No. 3 St. Rita wins another one-run thriller

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

NEW LENOX – In 2012, more often than not, St. Rita ended up on the short end of many tightly contested one-run games.

That was then.

With a new-found camaraderie, the No. 3-ranked Mustangs have been on the happier-end of tight games this season. On Saturday, they continued its winning ways by edging Providence Catholic, 3-2.

On Wednesday, the Mustangs came through with a thrilling one-run victory over Providence by an identical 3-2 score.

“I really do not have an answer as to why we are winning close games this season,” said St. Rita head coach Mike Zunica. “The only answer I can up with must be the tremendous chemistry that this team possesses. The kids are really pulling for one another and that togetherness helps us win in close ballgames.”

The game started out as a great pitchers’ duel between St. Rita senior right-hander Patrick Henry (5-0) and Providence’s senior right-hander Yianni Pavlopoulos (1-2).

Both pitchers matched zeros in the first two innings.

In the top of the third, the Providence defense imploded, making three errors as the Mustangs jumped out in front 2-0. One of the two runs was unearned. Junior Chris Delgadillo and junior Nate Soria had the Mustang RBI’s.

Providence (9-9; 3-6) answered with a clutch two-out RBI single from senior first baseman Shawn Cavallone, to bring the Celtics within a run.

St. Rita (22-2; 10-0) added an insurance run in the top of the fourth on an RBI single from John A. Logan College-bound CF Anthony Ray. Ray was 2-for-2 in the game, scoring a run and swiping two bases.

“Great team win today. Patrick pitched his heart out and Mike did a great job closing the game,” said Ray. “We played great defense and I had to do everything I could to help us win.”

Providence threatened in the fifth, when Henry plunked a pair of Celtic hitters with one out. The bout of wildness brought Mustang junior lefty ace Mike Costanzo (7-0) into the game. Henry allowed one run and four hits in his stellar 4 1/3 inning performance.

“It was great to pitch against Providence today,” said Henry. “I’m friends with a number of the Providence players and I really wanted to pitch this game against them today. … Mike was great closing out the game for me. I’m doing much better than I expected.  I hope I can continue to pitch well for my team.”

Costanzo quickly put out the fire by retiring the two Celtic hitters he would face in the fifth.

“It was a good team win for us against a very good Providence team,” said Costanzo. “Patrick pitched well for us and Anthony had a good day at the plate. It was good to nail down my first save of the season.”

In the bottom of the seventh, the Celtics would close to 3-2 on another RBI from Cavallone. Costanzo ended the game with a flourish, blowing a fastball past Celtic DH Phil Kunsa, which gave the Mustangs sole-possession of first place in the mighty Chicago Catholic League’s Blue Division.

“Patrick did a great job starting the game for us,” said Zunica. “Things worked out just as we had planned, getting Mike in the game to finish up for us. Anthony had a great day for us at the plate and on the base paths.” 

No. 5 St. Laurence (16-5; 9-1) defeated No. 6 Mount Carmel (20-4; 9-1) by a 7-4 margin at Viking Field in Burbank. With the Viking win, St. Rita 10-0 takes over sole possession of first place in the Blue. St. Laurence and Mount Carmel are a game back at 9-1.

On Monday at St. Rita, the Vikings and the Mustangs will collide at 4:30. You can watch the game LIVE at The PBR’s Drake Skleba will have all of the CCL-Blue showdown

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