Nazareth Academy Claims Back-to-Back 3A State Championships


By: Diego Solares
Area Scout, Illinois & Missouri

The 2023 3A IHSA state championship matchup pitted the defending champion Nazareth Academy Roadrunners against the Grayslake Central Rams. 

After a scoreless first, Nazareth threw up a three spot in the bottom of the second to get on the board. Finn O’Meara (2023; DePauw) drew a two-out walk, stealing second a few pitches later. Collin Roche (2025) turned around a two-strike heater for a single to left field, plating O’Meara. The next four Roadrunner bats walked, resulting in two runs. 


The Roadrunners scored three more runs in the bottom of the fourth. Jaden Fauske (2025; Louisville) led the inning off with a triple, and Lucas Smith (2023; Illinois-Chicago) followed with a walk. Smith swiped second, putting himself into scoring position, with Louisville commit Nick Drtina (2024) at the plate. Drtina delivered, squeaking a two-run double down the left field line and scoring both runners. He’d come around to score later in the inning on an infield single from O’Meara


Grayslake Central scored runs in the top halves of the fifth and sixth innings. Adam Fitzgerald (2023) sprayed a single to center field for an RBI, and the Rams plated another on a fielder’s choice. 


Nazareth would add onto their lead in the bottom of the sixth when David Cox (2024; Northwestern) launched a no-doubt home run well past the left field wall. With three outs to go, the Roadrunners lead 7-2. 

Cooper Malamazian (2024; Indiana) toed the rubber in the seventh looking to close things out for his squad. The first runner reached on a single, but Malamazian followed that up with a punchout. He’d then go on to induce a 6-3 unassisted double play to end the game. 


With the win, the Roadrunners cemented themselves in the history of Illinois’ high school baseball as back-to-back champions, finishing the season with a 34-6 record. Grayslake Central concludes their memorable year as runner-ups, finishing 33-8. 

NOTABLE PERFORMERS: 

+ Nick Drtina (Nazareth Academy): 1-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI
+ David Cox (Nazareth Academy): 2-for-4, HR, RBI
+ Finn O’Meara (Nazareth Academy): 2-for-3, BB, RS, RBI, 3 ⅓ IP, 2 H, 4 BB, 4 K
+ Cooper Malamazian (Nazareth Academy): 2 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 1-for-3
+ Jaden Fauske (Nazareth Academy): 2-for-3, 3B, RS
+ Adam Fitzgerald (Grayslake Central): 2-for-4, RBI
+ Sam Cooper (Grayslake Central): 1-for-2, RBI

THIRD PLACE GAME RECAP: 

In the day’s first game, Sycamore topped Effingham in extra-innings to take home the 3A IHSA third-place trophy. 

Effingham scored first, pushing their only run of the game in the top of the fourth inning on a bases-loaded walk. 

Quiet for five innings, the Spartans’ offense tied things up in the bottom of the sixth. Joey Puleo (2023) reached base on an error, moving to third following a single from leadoff man Kiefer Tarnoki (2023; Lake Land JC). Matthew Rosado (2024) peppered a single to right field, scoring Puleo, and tying the game up at 1-1. 

Neither team scored in the seventh, sending us to extras early on in Joliet. The same happened in the eighth and Effingham failed to score in their half of the ninth. 

Jimmy Amptmann (2023; Heartland CC) started the bottom of the inning with a single down the left field line. Kyle Hartmann (2024) followed with a single of his own, putting the winning run in scoring position with nobody out. 

A sacrifice bunt moved Amptmann and Hartmann over a bag, forcing Effingham to intentionally walk Lucas Winburn (2023; Kaskaskia JC) and load the bases. Effingham recorded the inning’s second out on a 5-2 grounder, but a wild pitch by the Flaming Hearts’ pitcher brought the runner home from third, winning the game for Sycamore. 


Three different Spartans threw well in the Sycamore win. Owen Piazza (2023; Aurora) hurled a pair of scoreless innings in a start, turning the ball over to Winburn, who didn’t allow an earned run over three innings of work, punching out five. Rosado closed things out, tossing four hitless frames, while striking out seven. 

Despite the loss, Effingham starter Josh McDevitt (2023; Missouri) was his usual dominant self. The future Mizzou Tiger fanned 14 batters over eight innings on the mound, scattering five hits, and allowing just a run, which was unearned. 


Sycamore completes a historic 2023 season with a 34-6 record. 

NOTABLE PERFORMERS 

+ Josh McDevitt (Effingham): 8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, BB, 14 K
+ Owen Piazza (Sycamore): 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, K
+ Lucas Winburn (Sycamore): 3 IP, H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 K
+ Matthew Rosado (Sycamore): 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K
+ Kiefer Tarnoki (Sycamore): 2-for-4
+ Kyle Hartmann (Sycamore: 2-for-4

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