Prep Baseball Report

No. 1 St. Rita Knocks Off Conference Foe Mt. Carmel in Sectional Semifinal

By: Adam Panayotovich
Area Scout

CRESTWOOD, IL - The first game of a Sectional Semifinal double-header at Ozinga Field saw a pair of CCL rivals in St. Rita and Mt. Carmel go head to head for the fourth time in the 2019 season. St. Rita claimed the 3-0 regular season sweep, but this time the season was on the line in the IHSA State Playoffs. Behind the arm of sophomore southpaw Al Holguin, the St. Rita Mustangs won 3-2 over the Caravan in front of a raucous crowd sending the states' top ranked team to the Sectional Championship on Saturday.

Holguin, an imposing framed 2021 at 6-foot-2, 220-pounds, cruised through a gritty Caravan lineup facing the minimum through the first three frames. The left-hander allowed only two hits through five innings while not allowing a single runner to touch third base. Holguin sports a low effort and clean delivery with a fastball that ranged 82-85 mph. He utilized a three pitch mix throughout the duration of his start that kept the Caravan offense at bay. 

St. Rita took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the first inning when Brendan Carrane (St. Louis commit) came into score on a sacrifice fly from Gavin Mottl. Carrane singled up the middle to leadoff the game, advanced to second on a Jalen Greer (Missouri commit) walk, took third on a wild pitch, which set up Mottl for the first run producing opportunity. Mottl worked a 10+ pitch at-bat before sending the deep fly to centerfield.

The final two runs for the Mustangs came in the very next inning. Matt Callahan and Bobby Atkinson reached via back-to-back walks to start the 2nd and Matt Dunleavy flared a single to left/center loading the bases. Reed Ohlson then sent a sacrifice fly to centerfield on the third pitch of the at-bat scoring Callahan. Three batters later, Pat Raines, who pinch ran for Atkinson, scored on a wild pitch that ticked off the top of Caravan C Jack Gilbert’s glove. 3-0 score in favor of St. Rita.

The Caravan received all their offensive run production in one swing in the 6th inning. With things looking a little grim for MC, Tony Livermore (Northwestern commit) led off the frame with a hustle double to right/centerfield. Next man up Josh Houston then delivered a two-run home run that wrapped just inside the right field foul pole (below). Holguin maintained his composure after the momentous two-run shot ending any additional threat.

After getting two quick outs in the top of the 7th, Holguin departed when Ed Howard (Oklahoma commit) sent a screaming line drive back up the box, his second of the game. Justin Valdez enters and plunks Livermore bringing Houston back up to the plate with two on and two out. On a 3-0 count, Valdez offers a tailing fastball off the outside corner that Houston rolled over to first baseman Chris McDevitt who steps on the bag and sends the Mustang dugout into an uproar and onto the Sectional Championship.

Nick Miketinac took the loss on the chin for the Caravan as the junior right-hander worked through some tough calls all game long, while surrendering only two hits, both singles. The uncommitted junior finished with a line: 4.2IP, 2H, 3ER, 6K, 5BB. Tommy Egan came on in relief of Miketinac going an inning and a third of no hit ball with two punch outs and three walks.

On 104 pitches, Holguin earned the victory going six and two-thirds on five hits and two earned while fanning four and walking one.

With the win, St. Rita advances to the Sectional Championship on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. back at Ozinga Field against the Nazareth Road Runners.