Prep Baseball Report

No. 1 St. Rita rallies past South Elgin, advances to 4A final

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

JOLIET-  A bases-loaded walk to St. Rita senior first baseman Nick Goldsmith in the bottom of the sixth forced home junior Shane Peisker with the eventual game-winning run as the top-ranked Mustangs outlasted Cinderella South Elgin, 3-2, Friday night in the Class 4A state semifinals at Silver Cross Field.

The Mustangs (37-4) won their third consecutive one-run game in the tournament and will meet Chicago Catholic League Blue Division rival Providence (27-14) in the Class 4A Final at around 5:30 on Saturday. Providence survived a five-run Prairie Ridge seventh to win 8-7 and advance to Saturday’s all CCL-Blue championship game.

St. Rita struck first in the bottom of the second. Tennessee-recruit junior third baseman Tyler Halas led off the inning with a bad-hop single into left field. Halas would steal second and move into third on the errant throw. Goldsmith walked and with Xavier-bound catcher Nate Soria at the plate, a balk was called on South Elgin’s Michigan-bound starting pitcher Ryan Nutof (8-1).Halas scored the first run of the game and pinch-runner AJ Fuller went to second. Soria struck out for the first out of the inning. Junior shortstop Marty Bechina ripped a shot to left, but South Elgin left fielder Justin Bryski made the play of the day when he made a circus catch and then doubled Fuller off of second.

South Elgin (24-11) stole the tying run of the game in the top of the third. With one out, Storm leadoffman Dane Toppel walked. Junior second baseman Jared Krammer reached on a miscue by the Mustang second baseman. Toppel and Krammer perfectly executed the double-steal and Toppel scored the tying run an RBI groundout from Nutof.

In the fourth, the Storm took the lead on a walk to junior rightfielder Danny Asa.Bryski would strike again with a booming triple that would plate Asa for a 2-1 Storm lead.

Meanwhile Nutof and St.Rita’s Austin Peay-bound lefty Mike Costanzo were dealing on the mound. Nutof limited the Mustangs to just one hit through five innings with nine strikeouts.
Costanzo had allowed just one earned run and three hits through six with nine strikeouts.

In the bottom of the sixth, sophomore Danny Gleaves led off the inning with an infield hit. The fleet-footed Gleaves would steal second base, his 29th theft of the season, and scored on Peisker’s game-tying RBI triple to right.

“I was 0-for-2 going into that at bat and I really had to come through for the team,” said Peisker.”I hit the ball well and got it up into the air and things really worked out well for me and I was able to get Danny home with the tying run. Goldy did his thing and got the big walk and Mike pitched a gem for us on the mound.”

Notre Dame-bound Jake Shepski reached on a dropped pop-up and Halas walked to load the bases for Goldy’s heroics.

Costanzo (11-2) shut down the Storm with a flourish in the seventh, picking up his 10th and 11th punchouts to end the game.

“This is a great group of kids that will not go away,” said St. Rita coach Mike Zunica. They are fun to be around; they are fun to watch play.”

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