Lilek dominates Nazareth to send Marian Catholic to 3A title game

By Sean Duncan

JOLIET – Brett Lilek was back to his dominant ways Friday. The senior left-hander threw a two-hit masterpiece with 11 strikeouts to shut out Nazareth 3-0 in the Class 3A state semifinal Friday at Silver Cross Field.

Lilek, an Arizona State recruit who’s been one of the top prospects in the state since his freshman year, finished the game with gusto, striking out three to send the Spartans (24-17) to the Class 3A state championship game, where they will take on LaSalle-Peru on Saturday. Marian Catholic is seeking its first state championship.

“It seems like everything is clicking on all cylinders right now,” said Lilek, who struck out 15 in the sectional final victory on Saturday.

Lilek, who was selected in the 37th round by the Mariners, walked four. His fastball sat in the 86-88 range for the entire game, climbing to 89 on occasion. He also spotted his changeup and slider at will.

Offensively, Marian Catholic got on the board with junior shortstop Erik Callaghan’s run-scoring triple. Then in the third inning, senior centerfielder Rob Cifelli hit a solo homer into the Bud Beach short porch in right field. It was the 5-foot-6 Cifelli’s first home run in his decorated high school career. Cifelli finished 2-for-3.

Lilek helped himself with a sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring Patrick Schmidt, who tripled. Lilek finished the game 2-for-2, and Callaghan went 2-for-3. Senior right fielder Devin Pickett also added a triple.

Sophomore right-hander Jake Bartels (7-3) was a bright spot for Nazareth (30-10). The physical 6-foot-4 Bartels yielded eight hits, three runs and struck out four in six innings. The Roadrunners will earn their second straight state trophy after taking fourth last year.