Prep Baseball Report

No. 5 Joliet Catholic back in familiar position: Class 3A state semifinals

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

CRESTWOOD - Trailing Harlan and the Falcons’ ace junior right-hander Semaj Patterson 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth, the fifth-ranked Hilltoppers struck for four runs to rally past Harlan, 5-3, and win the Class 3A Standard Bank Supersectional on Monday.

With the win, the Hilltoppers will play about four miles from their Larkin Avenue campus at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Friday at around 1. The Hillltoppers’ opponent will be the winner of the Class 3A Sauget Supersectional between No. 12 Bloomington (29-9) and No. 20 Mount Vernon (30-8-1), to be played in Sauget at 5 on Tuesday.

Harlan had just broken up a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fourth, with two runs highlighted by RBI singles by senior first baseman Jerome McKinney and junior catcher Christian Bland. The Falcons broke through against JCA starting and winning pitcher sophomore right-hander Nock Dalesandro (6-2). Dalesandro went four innings-plus, allowing three runs, two of which were earned, four hits and had seven strikeouts.

In the fateful fifth, JCA junior Aaron Markley reached on the first of three Falcon miscues in the inning. Western Illinois University-bound shortstop Chris Tschida singled. Dalesandro sacrificed the runners into scoring position and Patterson (10-4) retired Holy Cross College-bound catcher Alex Voitik for the second out of the inning. Senior first baseman Ryan Peter came through with a clutch two-out RBI single, to bring the Hilltoppers to within one at 3-2.

The play of the game came next, when Hilltopper junior DH John Kalisik ripped a shot into the left field corner scoring Markley with the tying run. The ball was booted by the Falcon left fielder for the second error of the inning, allowing Tschida to score the lead run. A wild throw from the outfield, resulted in the third error of the inning and allowed 

Kalisik to circle the bases and score the fourth Hilltopper run of the inning.

“I hit an inside pitch hard for what I thought would be a double,” said Kalisik. “I kept running to third and then headed home as things really got wild.” 

Senior RHP Cal Placher replaced Dalesandro with a man on and nobody out in the bottom of the fifth. Placher walked the first hitter he faced and then struck out the next two Falcon hitters and picked up the third out on a fly ball to sophomore right fielder Keegan Tyrell.

In the sixth, the never-say-die Falcons had singles from junior left fielder Isaac Bracey and Bland to put runners on first and third with nobody out. Senior Terrell Steward lifted a shallow fly to Dalesandro in center, who caught the ball for the first out of the inning and then fired a strike on the fly to Voitik, who put the tag on Bracey trying to score from third. Placher struck out the final Falcon hitter to get out of the jam.

“I heard Keegan Tyrell yelling ‘This is you, gun-him down,” and I threw a strike on the fly to Adam who put the tag on the runner for the second out of the inning,” said Dalesandro. 

In the bottom of the seventh, Placher disposed of the Falcons 1-2-3 and sent the Hilltoppers home to Joliet for the fourth time in six years. The Hilltoppers finished second in 2008, won the 3A title in 2009 and finished fourth in 2010.

“This is so exciting to see my three captains, Tschida, Voitik and Peter, who have been with us since they were sophomores, to be rewarded for all of their hard work,” said Joliet Catholic Academy head coach Jared Voss. “Cal Placher did a great job in relief for us. Cal has been solid for us as both a starter and a reliever.”

Harlan wraps up a tremendous season for 21-year head coach Kenny Fullman, at 26-11-1.

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