No. 15 Providence Outlasts No.1 JCA for WJOL/Don Ladas Memorial Title



By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

JOLIET - Another amazing chapter, in one of the most storied sports rivalries in Illinois high school sports history, took place at Silver Cross Field on Saturday night. The defending Class 4A State Champions from Providence Catholic outlasted the top-ranked Hilltoppers of Joliet Catholic Academy 17-12 in eight grueling innings. The game, at times sloppy on both sides, but an Instant Classic nonetheless, was for the 10th Annual WJOL/Don Ladas Classic Tournament championship. It was the fourth title for Providence (7-0) in the ten year history of the tournament, sponsored by WJOL radio 1340 AM in Joliet, honoring the memory of the late-great WJOL sportscaster Don Ladas.

Providence took a seemingly insurmountable 12-6 lead into the bottom of the seventh. Insurmountable against most teams, but not to the top-ranked Hilltoppers. Junior Jack Howard (4-for-6, 2B, RBI) singled home a run to make it 12-7 Celtics. Howard’s hit greeted Celtic ace senior Brent Villasenor, who replaced junior Reed McCool. Villasenor (3-0) fired two hitless innings to pick up the win in Providence’s 2-1, eight-inning thriller against Joliet West in the semifinals earlier in the day. JCA scored another run on an error to pull within 12-8. A ground out off the bat of Max Brzostowski (1-for-3, BB, HBP, 3RBI) made it 12-9. Sophomore KC Simonich’s booming two-run double pulled JCA within 12-11. Vanderbilt-recruit Drake Fellows was next. In this afternoon’s 16-0 JCA semifinal win over Plainfield Central, Fellows hit a monster three-run bomb and drove home four runs. On Thursday, he fired six solid innings, allowing one run and two hits with 10 strikeouts, in the Hilltoppers’ quarterfinal 12-3 win over Lockport.

The future Commodore ripped a single into centerfield, driving in the tying run and sending Silver Cross Field into hysteria.

Not so fast, said the defending Class 4A champs from Providence. Showing the metel of a true champion, the Celtics scored five times in the top of the eighth, to retake the lead for good. Junior Jimmy Jeffries (2-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI) got the party started with an RBI double. WJOL/Ladas Classic MVP Jackson Dvorak was hit by a pitch forcing in a run. Dvorak was on base five times in last night’s championship game. Three times he was hit by a pitch. He walked and singled in his six trips. Matt Diehl (4-for-6, 2B, SB, 2 RBI) followed with an RBI single which was followed by another RBI single by Colin Airola. Senior Justin Hunniford’s (2-for-4, SAC, RBI) sac-fly concluded the scoring.

Diehl said, “It’s great to win this tournament and especially defeating our rival and the No. 1 team, JCA, in the state. I had been in a slump and Coach Vitas talked with me and said just relax. It helped me and I really saw the ball well tonight and had a great game. It has been a tremendous run for us, with last years’ baseball state championship, the football state championship in the fall and now WJOL/Don Ladas Classic Classic champions tonight. It’s been really exciting.

Villasenor picked up the win for Providence in reflief, his second of the day, and junior righthander Connor Creed held Joliet Catholic at bay firing a scoreless bottom of the eighth.

The MVP Dvorak hit two home runs and had six RBI in the Celtics 17-9 quarterfinal win on over Lockport on Wednesday. On Saturday afternoon the hard-hitting junior singled home the walk-off game winner in the Celtics thrilling 2-1, eight inning semifinal victory over Joliet West.

“It feels great to win this championship but we now have to focus on next week, Dvorak said. “We have a number of games next week and we have to keep rolling. It’s a real honor to be named MVP of this great tournament.”

Zach Pych
, Mike Madej and Jackson Stulas all had two hits in the 19-hit Celtic attack

“I’m really proud of the way we battled in a grueling eight-inning game,” Providence coach Mark Smith said. “What I am most proud of is how the kids responded to JCA tying the game up at 12-12, with six runs in the bottom of the seventh. To show such great character to come back and score five runs to win this game is amazing.”

Joliet Catholic Academy (5-1) had a two-hit contribution from Mike Quiram and junior Dan Devine chipped in with a two-run single, way back in the second inning.

“Crazy game. Typical Joliet Catholic-Providence rivalry,” said JCA coach Jared Voss. “ Both teams battled tremendously. We would claw back and then they would pull back ahead. I am so proud of the way we came back with the six-run seventh to tie the game. We just couldn’t stop them from scoring.”

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By Drake Skleba

Senior Writer

JOLIET -
Another amazing chapter, in one of the most storied sports rivalries in Illinois high school sports history, took place at Silver Cross Field on Saturday night. The defending Class 4A  State Champions from Providence Catholic outlasted the top-ranked Hilltoppers of Joliet Catholic Academy 17-12 in eight grueling innings. The game, at times sloppy on both sides, but an Instant Classic nonetheless, was for the 10th Annual WJOL/Don Ladas Classic Tournament championship. It was the fourth title for Providence (7-0) in the ten year history of the tournament, sponsored by WJOL radio 1340 AM in Joliet, honoring the memory of the late-great WJOL sportscaster Don Ladas.

Providence took a seemingly insurmountable 12-6 lead into the bottom of the seventh. Insurmountable against most teams, but not to the top-ranked Hilltoppers. Junior Jack Howard (4-for-6, 2B, RBI) singled home a run to make it 12-7 Celtics. Howard’s hit greeted Celtic ace senior Brent Villasenor, who replaced junior Ryan McCool. Villasenor (3-0) fired two hitless innings to pick up the win in Providence’s 2-1, eight-inning thriller against Joliet West in the  semifinals earlier in the day. JCA scored another run on an error to pull within 12-8. A ground out off the bat of Max Brzostowski (1-for-3, BB, HBP, 3RBI) made it 12-9. Sophomore KC Simonich’s  booming two-run double pulled JCA within 12-11. Vanderbilt-recruit Drake Fellows was next. In this afternoon’s 16-0 JCA semifinal win over Plainfield Central, Fellows hit a monster three-run bomb and drove home four runs. On Thursday, he fired six solid innings, allowing one run  and two hits with 10 strikeouts, in the Hilltoppers quarterfinal 12-3 win over Lockport.

The future Commodore ripped a single into centerfield, driving in the tying run and sending Silver Cross Field into hysteria.

Not so fast, said the defending Class 4A champs from Providence. Showing the metel of a true champion, the Celtics scored five times in the top of the eighth, to retake the lead for good. Junior Jimmy Jeffries (2-for-4, 2B,3RBI) got the party started with an RBI double. WJOL/Ladas Classic MVP Jackson Dvorak was hit by a pitch forcing in a run. Dvorak was on base five times in last night’s championship game. Three times he was hit by a pitch. He walked and singled in his six trips. Matt Diehl (4-for-6, 2B, SB, 2 RBI) followed with an RBI single which was followed by another RBI single by Colin Airola. Senior Justin Hunniford’s  (2-for-4, SF, RBI) sac-fly concluded the scoring.


Diehl said, “It’s great to win this tournament and especially defeating our rival and the No. 1 team, JCA, in the state. I had been in a slump and Coach Vitas talked with me and said just relax. It helped me and I really saw the ball well tonight and had a great game. It has been a tremendous run for us, with last years’ baseball state championship, the football state championship in the fall and now WJOL/Don Ladas Classic Classic champions tonight.It’s been really exciting.



Providence junior right-hander Connor Creed fired a scoreless bottom of the eighth to earn the victory for the Celtics.

The MVP Dvorak hit two home runs and had six RBI in the Celtics 17-9 quarterfinal win on over Lockport on Wednesday. On Saturday afternoon the hard-hitting junior singled home the walk-off game winner in the Celtics thrilling 2-1,eight inning semifinal victory over Joliet West.

“It feels great to win this championship but we now have to focus on next week, Dvorak said. “We have a number of games next week and we have to  keep rolling. It’s a real honor to be named MVP of this great tournament.”

Zach Pych. Mike Madej and Jackson Stulas all had two hits in the 19-hit Celtic attack

“I’m really proud of the way we battled in a grueling eight-inning game,” Providence coach Mark Smith said. “What I am most proud of is how the kids responded to JCA tying the game up at 12-12, with six runs in the bottom of the seventh. To show such great character to come back and score five runs to win this game is amazing.”

Joliet Catholic Academy (5-1) had a two-hit contribution from Mike Quiram and junior Dan Devine chipped in with a two-run single,way-back in the second inning.


“Crazy game. Typical Joliet Catholic-Providence rivalry, “ said JCA coach Jared Voss. “ Both teams battled tremendously. We would claw back and then they would pull back ahead. I am so proud of the way we came back with the six-run seventh to tie the game. We just couldn’t stop them from scoring.”