Prep Baseball Report

Shane Peisker's Two-Homer Day Leads St. Rita Comeback Over Brother Rice

By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director

CHICAGO, IL – St. Rita senior centerfielder Shane Peisker was clutch early, and clutch late as the No. 1 Mustangs came from behind to defeat No. 20 Brother Rice 7-6 on Saturday afternoon in thrilling come-from-behind fashion in Catholic League Blue action.

With victories over No. 3 Providence on Monday and Wednesday, the young Crusaders were looking to take down the No. 1 ranked Mustangs, who had been scuffling recently with losses to Providence last Saturday, and St. Laurence on Wednesday.

Peisker gave the Mustangs an early 3-1 advantage in the bottom of the first with a no doubt three-run homer deep to right field off Brother Rice starting pitcher Mike Schalasky (5-1).

Brother Rice notched their first run in the first on an Andrew Dyke RBI double, then cut into the Mustangs lead in the second with an RBI single past shortstop by junior Mike Massey, a perfectly executed hit-and-run by the Crusaders to cut the St. Rita lead to 3-2.

Schalasky and St. Rita starter, junior righthander Max Franklin, both battled throughout their respective outings. Schalasky settled down after Piesker’s homer, working five innings, scattering seven hits, four runs, with five strikeouts and three walks.

Brother Rice added two more runs to take the lead in the fourth, with Massey coming up big again, scoring Colin Shea on his RBI single past shortstop to tie the game at three. An error on senior third baseman Max Hughes’ groundball to second allowed senior left fielder Danny Paluch to score, giving the Crusaders a 4-3 lead.

Rice added to the lead in the fifth, when Paluch walked with the bases loaded to score junior centerfielder Andrew Dyke, who singled earlier in the inning. The bases loaded walk ended Franklin’s day on the mound, and senior lefthander Matt Ryan (Butler commit) came in and ended the threat, inducing Massey to flyout to right field to keep the Mustangs within striking distance at 5-3.

Peisker walked to lead off the bottom of the fifth, then scored on a Cal Greenfield (two-for-three, double) RBI-groundout to make it 5-4 after senior shortstop Marty Bechina’s line shot double had put runners at second and third.

The Crusaders came right back in the top half of the sixth, stealing a run on a perfectly executed double steal. With two outs and runners on first and third, sophomore first baseman Ryan Kutt broke for second base. Cal Greenfield, St. Rita’s sophomore catcher, fired a strike to senior second baseman Tyler Halas (Tennessee signee). Kutt avoided the tag initially, allowing Dyke to score from third base before the third out of the inning. St. Rita coach Mike Zunica and Halas felt that Kutt was out of the baseline, but after some argument, the call stood, giving Rice a 6-4 lead entering the bottom of the sixth.

St. Rita chipped away once again in the sixth. Brother Rice junior Jack Butler relieved Schalasky in the sixth, and gave up an unearned run in peculiar fashion. Senior first baseman Tony Faron reached first base on a catcher’s interference call. After a strikeout and a flyout to center, Faron stole second, then took third on the errant throw from the catcher. Mateo Zunica’s hard hit groundball to the right of Brother Rice second baseman Ryan King scored Faron, as the fleet-footed Zunica narrowly beat out the throw after King’s backhand play.

Chasing one run heading into the bottom of the seventh, things looked bleak for St. Rita with Brother Rice sophomore ace Ryan Kutt entering the game in relief. Peisker erased any doubt with a line shot home run to right field over the 350-foot sign on the first pitch he saw from Kutt.

“I was definitely surprised to get a first pitch fastball since he (Kutt) has a really good breaking ball, but he made a mistake on the inner half and I didn’t miss it.” The Naval Academy signee added on his 2-for-3, four-RBI day, “It felt good to have a big day, especially since I was supposed to bunt in my first at bat (a missed sacrifice attempt). I guess it worked out though in the end.”

With the game now tied at six and one out, a St. Rita senior stepped up big once again: this time Michigan State-bound shortstop Marty Bechina. Bechina (two-for-four, double, triple) drove a ball to deep center field, just outside the reach of Dyke, who crashed into the brick center field wall at full speed. The ball bounced away after the collision, putting the winning run 90 feet away. After back-to-back intentional walks to load the bases, senior first baseman Tony Faron stepped to the plate.

Brother Rice brought the infield in, and Faron’s hard hit ground ball found its way past a diving Mike Massey to give the Mustangs a hard fought, comeback victory 7-6.

St. Rita pounded out 11 hits total, with Zunica, Peisker, Bechina, and Greenfield all having two hit days. Senior lefthander Conner McAlilly earned the win (3-1 on the year) in relief after recording a one-pitch flyout for the final out of the top of the seventh. For Brother Rice, Massey and Dyke both had two hits, with Massey adding two RBI.

St. Rita coach Mike Zunica said, “We hit a wall this week and were served a bit of humble pie (two losses after earning No. 1 rankings in national polls). Despite that we believe in these kids, some people felt we were overrated, but these guys responded to adversity this week and today. It’s tough to have that target on your back, I’m proud of the way we bounced back today.”

St. Rita improves to 27-2 (11-2 in CCL Blue) on the year, while Brother Rice drops to 21-7 (9-4 in conference play). The two rivals square off once again in CCL Blue action on Monday at 4:30 at Brother Rice.

Look for in-depth insider scouting notes on Monday in the Illinois Scout Blog.

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