St. Rita Hammers Lyons To Win Summer State Title

By Drake Skleba
Senior Writer

LISLE - St. Rita senior right-hander Jake Shepski pitched in four of the Mustangs five IHSBCA/Phil Lawler Summer State Final contests. The Notre Dame-bound Shepski was the winning pitcher in three of those, including a three-hit shutout in Thursday

night’s IHSBCA/Phil Lawler Summer State Championship Game played at Benedictine University. Shepski’s teammates gave him a rocking-chair lead, scoring four in the first and seven more in the second as St. Rita routed Lyons Township 11-0 in five innings.

Shepski’s unprecedented feat of winning three games in the IHSBCA/Lawler State Tournament Finals earned him the 2013 Jack Kaiser Most Valuable Player Award. Shepski was brilliant in his four appearances, pitching 11 2/3 innings of shutout baseball. Shepski allowed seven hits and had 14 punchouts, including six in the state championship game.

“I felt great out there tonight. I had everything working and it all worked out for the best,” said Shepski. “I want to thank my teammates for making the MVP award possible. They always had my back throughout the tournament. Winning this state championship is a great accomplishment which we can use as a springboard to a spring state championship next year.”

It was the second Phil Lawler Summer Classic State Championship plaque that head coach Mike Zunica’s Mustangs have taken home to 7740 South Western Avenue. In the inaugural Lawler Classic in 2009, led by PBR All-Stater and 2009 Jack Kaiser Memorial MVP Award winner Mark Payton, the Mustangs rolled to their second IHSBCA crown rolling past Sandburg 10-0. Zunica’s first IHSBCA title came in 2005.

St. Rita (17-5) struck for four runs in the top of the first inning. The normally reliable Lion defense imploded, making three errors and giving up three unearned runs. Junior second baseman Tyler Halas had a two-run single in the inning while All-Tournament selection AJ Fuller singled home Halas with the final run of the inning.

The Mustangs broke the game open with a big seven-spot in the top of the second. All-Tournament Selection Nate Soria, who led the tournament with seven RBI, singled home a run.

“This feels great to win the state championship here tonight,” said Soria. “We really came together as a team and played well to win this championship.”

All-Tournament Selection junior Anthony Faron singled home a pair for an 8-0 Mustang advantage. 

“We jumped out to an early lead and never looked back tonight,” said Faron. “We came out and did our own thing today and really played well. I was just trying to get good pitches to hit. I got a lot of fastballs this week. Had good swings and hit the ball hard.”

Senior 3B Jake Drada singled home another run while Fuller struck again with an RBI single. Mustang number No. 9 hitter senior left fielder Chris Delgadillo singled home the first run of the inning and then as the Mustangs sent 11 men to the plate, Delgadillo singled again tying a record held by many.  

For the defending IHSBCA/ Phil Lawler Summer State Champions from Lyons Township (26-7), the night could not have gone any worse. With Shepski pitching in a rocking chair, the hard-hitting Lions could only muster three singles. Only Josh Kuntz, All-Tournament Selection junior John Heilenbach and Charlie Harrigan hit safely.

2012 IHSBCA/Phil Lawler Summer State All-Tournament Selection, Lyons Township Max Larson was once again All-Tournament in 2013. John Hielenbach’s cousin, Lion 1B Sam Heilenbach also was named All-Tournament. Junior lefty Quinton Hughes, who fired a one-hit shutout in the semifinals against St. Charles East, was also named to the All-Tournament team.

For St. Rita the All-Tournament team would not be complete without St. Rita’s Austin Peay-bound lefty Mike Costanzo. Costanzo fired a four-hitter at Libertyville in the semifinals with 13 strikeouts and nailed down a save in one of MVP Shepski’s three victories.

“It is just so great to see these kids get this championship after a heart-breaking spring,” said Zunica. “We coach high school sports to see our kids have success. This group has achieved that and will forever be bonded by this state championship. They may come back here when they’re 60 years old and know that they are the 2013 Lawler Classic State Champs.

Jake wanted the ball every day, just as 2009 MVP Mark Payton did, and Jake was outstanding and truly deserved the MVP award.”

The rest of the 2013 IHSBCA/Phil Lawler Sumer State All-Tournament Team:

LIBERTYVILLE: Junior Mitch Townsend; senior Noah Greenburg; junior Nick Rossetti

ST. CHARLES EAST: senior RHP Mike Boehmer; junior Jake Rykoskey   

PLAINFIELD EAST: senior Jovany Urbieta; junior Mike McGee

MINOOKA: senior Neal Tyrell

2013 Jack Kaiser Memorial Most Valuable Player Award

ST. RITA senior RHP Jake Shepski

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