No. 1 St. Rita edges No. 4 St. Laurence in 10 innings

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

BURBANK, IL – All the hype. All the history. All expectations. And yet, somehow every time St. Rita and St. Laurence square off, it never disappoints.

On Monday, another indelible chapter was written between the Chicago Catholic Blue powers, as No. 1 St. Rita outlasted No. 4 St. Laurence, 2-1, in 10 innings to remain unbeaten before a packed crowd.

With the win, St. Rita (26-0, 11-0) put two games between St. Laurence (21-3, 9-2) atop the Chicago Catholic Blue standings, with the second game of the series set for Wednesday at St. Rita.

This game featured stellar pitching performances from St. Rita’s Mike Costanzo and St. Laurence’s Brad Wood, both of whom went eight strong innings, deadlocked at 1-1. In the end, St. Rita finally broke through when Jake Shepski’s liner up the middle glanced off reliever John Riordan’s glove, allowing pinch-runner C.J. Weydeman to score the eventual game-winner. Pinch-hitter Anthony Faron started the inning with a single up the middle.

Shepski, a Notre Dame recruit, also pitched two spotless innings of relief to cement the victory.

“I’ve been humbled many times before here, so it feels good in my senior year to come out on top,” said Shepski, who finished 2-for-5 in the game.

Although Shepski (3-0) earned the win out of relief, both Costanzo and Wood pitched well enough to win. Costanzo, an Austin Peay recruit who is 7-0 this season, allowed four hits, struck out six and walked three in eight innings. The left-hander seemingly got stronger as the game went on. After St. Laurence touched him for a run and two hits in the second inning, Costanzo didn’t yield another hit until the seventh.

“I don’t care, just as long as we win,” said Costanzo about the no-decision. “This was like a state (championship) game (atmosphere).”

Wood, a Northern Illinois recruit, was equally impressive. The right-hander didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, and finished a gritty eight-inning outing having yielded four hits against an offense that had blasted five homers against Providence on Saturday, including four against top-ranked Jake Godfrey. Wood struck out seven and walked three.

St. Laurence came out of the gate hot when first baseman Roger Wilson led off the second inning with a single, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. The following batter, catcher T.J. Marik, who will be teammates with Costanzo at Austin Peay next year, ripped a run-scoring double to left-center field with no outs. St. Laurence had runners on first and third with one out, but Costanzo buckled down to get out of the jam.

It looked like that one run would hold up for St. Laurence, but the Mustangs finally broke through in the sixth inning. Junior Tyler Halas, who was robbed of an RBI double in the fourth inning on junior left fielder Sean Burnette’s spectacular diving catch in the left-center gap, opened the sixth inning by reaching on an error. Senior first baseman Nick Goldsmith followed with a single up the middle. Wood, as he had done all game, buckled down to get the next two batters out. He looked like he was in the clear when he got second baseman Chris Delgadillo down to his final strike, but the IPFW recruit rapped a multi-hopper up the middle to score Halas and tie the game, 1-1.

“I thought it was a tight day for both teams,” said St. Rita coach Mike Zunica. “It was cold, windy, tough day to hit, and good pitching. … That was a good baseball game.”

St. Laurence had scoring opportunities early on, but after the Vikings had a runner on second base with one out in the fourth inning, Costanzo proceeded to retire the next nine hitters. Kevin White’s one-out single in the seventh was the first time a Viking had reached base.

“I feel really bad for Brad,” said St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus. “He pitched a great game. We didn’t take advantage of some early opportunities and it hurt us. But the kids fought hard.”

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