Top 10 Stories of 2014: No. 9 St. Rita's 26-Game Winning Streak

By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director

Over the next few weeks in addition to highlighting the Top 10 Player Profiles of 2014, we will also highlight the Top Ten Stories in Illinois High School Baseball during the 2014 calendar year.

Coming in at No. 9 is St. Rita’s remarkable 26-game winning streak to begin the 2014 season. The Mustangs spent a majority of the spring ranked No. 1 and finished the season as the Class 4A State Runner-Up with a 37-5 overall record.

The winning streak lasted all the way into May, snapped by St. Laurence in a tough Catholic League Blue Matchup (Game Story). The Mustangs and Vikings would go on to share the Catholic League Blue Conference Title (St. Rita’s first since 2007).

St. Rita defeated South Elgin in the state semi-finals 3-2 behind senior southpaw Mike Costanzo’s masterful 11-strikeout, complete game effort. Click Here to read the game story.

The Mustangs fell 4-1 to Providence Catholic in the title game, running into perhaps the top power arm in the state in the Celtics’ Jake Godfrey. Godfrey, continued his late season success by limiting St. Rita to two hits in his complete game effort.

Anything can happen in single-elimination playoff baseball, and running into one of the state's top pitcher's  in no way diminishes the accomplishments of one of Illinois’ top teams in the state during the 2014 spring.

Here’s a look at St. Rita’s State Finals Preview, highlighting some of their top players from the 2014 season:

St. Rita State Finals Preview

No. 1 St. Rita (36-4) vs. South Elgin (24-10)
St. Rita -
Notre Dame-bound Jake Shepski has taken the Mustangs to Joliet. In a six-day period between Wednesday, June 4 through Monday, June 9, the two-way talent won two games and saved another for the Chicago Catholic League Blue Division co-champions. A five-hit shutout against No.12 Lyons Township on June 4 was followed by his ninth save in nine save opportunities against arch-rival Mount Carmel to take home the Class 4A Reavis Sectional championship on Saturday. On Monday, another complete-game masterpiece was delivered by the senior right-hander, this time a six-hitter in the Mustangs thrilling 2-1 Standard Bank Stadium supersectional win over Downers Grove South, in Crestwood. In three games Shepski pitched 17 innings, allowing one run, 13 hits, with 10 strikeouts and three bases on balls. For the season Shepski is 7-1 with a 1.35 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 46 innings pitched.

Austin Peay-bound lefty Mike Costanzo has been the ace of the Mustang staff with a 10-2 mark with a 1.64 ERA. Costanzo has 96 punchouts in his 72.2 innings of work this season.

Shepski can hit, too, as evidenced by his robust .405 average with 12 doubles, seven triples, five homers and a team-leading 48 RBI.

Future University of Pittsburgh punter, senior 1B Nick Goldsmith is hitting .413 with nine doubles, two triples, nine bombs and 46 RBI. University of Tennessee-recruit 3B Tyler Halas is hitting .355 with a pair of bombs and 36 RBI. Halas is also 6-0 with a 1.79 ERA on the mound for St. Rita. Sophomore Danny Gleaves leads the Mustang attack with a .541 average with 17 RBI and 28 stolen bases.

St. Rita coach Mike Zunica is in his 18th season at 7740 South Western Avenue in Chicago with a 530-168 record. The Mustangs took home back-to-back Class 4A second-place trophies back to the South Side of Chicago in 2009 & 2010. This is the fifth trip to state for the Mustangs.

Complete List of Top Ten News Stories of 2014

No. 10 – South Elgin’s Improbable Third-Place Run

No. 9 - St. Rita's 26 Game Winning Streak

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