Baseball Summer League State Tournament: Minooka stymies St. Rita
BY PAT DISABATO email@example.com July 22, 2013 6:32PM
St. Rita's Jake Drada slides safely into second against Minooka during the Phil Lawler Summer Classic at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., on Monday, July 22, 2013. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media ORG XMIT: .
Updated: July 22, 2013 8:43PM
Minooka has relied on quality pitching and defense this summer to advance to the Elite 8 of the Phil Lawler Summer Classic.
It’s a recipe that proved successful once again on Monday in a first-round contest against St. Rita.
Pitcher Mitch Malone allowed two hits over six plus innings and was supported by a flawless performance by his defense as Minooka recorded a 3-1 win over St. Rita at North Central College.
Minooka (14-5-1) advances to Tuesday’s quarterfinal game at 10 a.m. at Benedictine University.
St. Rita (12-5) played an elimination game later Monday.
“I just tried to go out there and throw strikes,” said Malone, a senior right-hander, who walked five and struck out four. “I knew St. Rita was going to be a tough opponent. I tried to win the battle.”
The Indians offense was by no means explosive, mustering up just four hits on the day. However, what Minooka lacked in hits it made up for in being opportunistic.
The Indians recorded single runs in the first three innings to grab a 3-0 lead. Minooka took advantage of some sloppy play by the Mustangs, who committed two errors that resulted in two unearned runs.
Neal Tyrell legged out an infield single to start the game and promptly stole second and third base. He would score when St. Rita pitcher C.J. Santoyo uncorked a wild pitch for a 1-0 edge.
“Sometimes you have to make things happen,” Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic said. “Neal did a great job beating that ball out and stealing two bases.”
Jon Vesper led off the Minooka second inning with a walk — one of nine free passes St. Rita issued — and advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Kenny Walsh and bunt single by Jake Null. Vesper would score on Santoyo’s errant pick-off attempt to third base for a 2-0 spread.
St. Rita gift-wrapped the Indians third run. Cole Thompson cracked a one-out double and scooted to third on a wild pitch. With the infield in, Joe Butler hit a one-hopper to second baseman Chris Delgadillo, who fired errantly to home plate, allowing Thompson to cross home plate for a 3-0 spread.
“Even down by three, I felt good about our chances with the way we’ve been swinging the bats,” St. Rita coach Mike Zunica said. “We came out really flat and I don’t know why.”
Malone didn’t allow a hit through the first four innings, silencing a St. Rita offense that had scored 43 runs the past four games. The Mustangs mounted a rally in the third when Delgadillo walked and Shane Peisker was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Malone, however, settled down to retire St. Rita’s two, three and four hitters to escape any damage.
The Mustangs broke up Malone’s no-hitter in the fifth and in the process, were able to push a run across the plate. Marty Bechina doubled to lead off the fifth and scored on a two-out single by Nate Soria to cut the deficit to 3-1. The inning might have been more productive, but Thompson made a diving stop of Jake Shepski’s grounder down the first base line to end the threat.
St. Rita appeared ready to stage one of its patented late-inning comebacks when Bechina coaxed a one-out walk in the seventh. When Malone fell behind 2-and-0 to Esteban Martinez, Petrovic called on reliever Trevor Maly to put out the fire. After walking Martinez to put runners on first and second base with one out, Maly induced Peisker to hit into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
“Trevor did a great job,” Petrovic said. “Got a guy to hit a ground ball, which we expected him to. Our defense is one of the best I’ve ever coached.”