No. 1 Joliet Catholic slips by No. 2 Lincoln-Way North in pitcher's duel



By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director

JOLIET, IL – With dozens of professional scouts in attendance on a cold spring day to see a premier pitching matching between Illinois' two top-ranked teams, No. 1 Joliet Catholic pulled out a thrilling 2-1 victory in the bottom of the seventh inning over No. 2 Lincoln-Way North on Thursday at Gillespie Field in Joliet.

Joliet Catholic senior catcher Nick Dalesandro led the way offensively for the Hilltoppers, going 2-for-2, with two walks and an RBI. With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Joliet Catholic sophomore three-hitter KC Simonich singled to left field over the third baseman’s head, setting the stage for Dalesandro’s heroics.

Lincoln-Way North senior right-hander Liam Jenkins, on in relief of ace left-hander Kyle Ostrowski, was pounding 89-93 mph fastballs in on the hands of Joliet Catholic hitters. Dalesandro inside-outed a pitch for a hard, line drive single to right field, and as Simonich was attempting to go  from first to third, the ball went under the glove of Lincoln-Way North’s right fielder, rolling to the outfield fence allowing Simonich to score the game winning run.

Dalesandro said, “facing two power arms like Ostrowski and Jenkins I knew I had to be patient and not try to do too much...go the other way. Kyle left one inside in the first at bat so I pulled it, and with the game winner, good things happen when you hit the ball hard”.

The previous six innings was a pitcher’s duel between Joliet Catholic junior ace Drake Fellows (Vanderbilt commit) and Lincoln-Way North senior lefthander Kyle Ostrowski (Purdue commit). Fellows pitched into the seventh inning, finishing with six innings and one earned run on five hits, eight strikeouts, and two walks. Battling control problems at times, Ostrowski allowed one earned run on one hit with eight walks and eight strikeouts. Ostrowski buckled down several times with runners on base, including coming up with a huge bases loaded strikeout in the bottom of the fifth. Jenkins threw a scoreless sixth, before allowing the unearned game winner in the seventh.

Joliet Catholic took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first thanks to back-to-back walks putting runners on first and second. After a wild pitch moving runners to second and third and a strikeout, Dalesandro ripped an 89-mph fastball into left-field scoring senior shortstop Mitch Boe (Iowa) to take a 1-0 Hilltopper lead.

Fellows made the lead hold up, weathering a first-and-third one-out jam in the top of the fifth inning with back-to-back strikeouts, reaching back for 91 mph. Fellows said, “I knew I had to rear back and get a couple strikeouts to get us going. Nick (Dalesandro) pumped me up, and our dugout fed off that situation.” Ranked No. 2 in Illinois’ 2016 PBR rankings, Fellows noted on facing Ostrowski (ranked No. 2 in the 2015 class), “I live for these moments, facing Kyle, the scouts, this is what I love to do, and I just went out and pitched”.  Dalesandro added, “Working with Drake is easy, he puts it wherever I setup and we have confidence in each other.”

Lincoln-Way North tied up the game at one in the top of the seventh.  Fellows was pulled after a walk to North’s Pat Troike; Troike advanced to second on a wild pitch and Fellows was pulled in favor of senior right-hander Danny Ehrsam. After a Kyle Lietz single to right put runners on first-and-third with no outs, Ehrsam induced a double play ball to second base, which allowed Troike to score, but stopped the rally. Ehrsam notched the victory for Joliet Catholic, his second of the young season after Dalesandro’s walk-off hit in the bottom half of the inning.

For Lincoln-Way North, Pat Troike finished 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. Senior second baseman Austin Konagel went 2-for-3 with two singles, also scoring Troike on his double-play ground out.

Joliet Catholic head coach Jared Voss noted, “We love these matchups, all the premier arms and scouts out here to see two great teams play. I thought Nick Dalesandro was the best player on the field today, he’s been relaxed at the plate hitting despite all the scouts, he hasn’t tried to do too much, takes his walks, and he came up big in another clutch situation yet again”.

The loss drops Lincoln-Way North to 0-3 on the season, but those losses are to No. 1 Joliet Catholic, No. 9 Lockport, and a young, rising No. 18 Brother Rice squad. Joliet Catholic improves to 2-0 with Marmion next on the slate on Wednesday.

Click Here to read Insider Scouting notes in the “Illinois Scouting Blog”.

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