Mike Costanzo, of St. Rita, delivers a pitch against St. Laurence at St. Laurence, Monday, May 5th, 2014 in Burbank. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 7, 2014 6:39AM
Two star pitchers going head-to-head.
A great rivalry in the Catholic League Blue, maybe the state’s strongest conference.
An undefeated streak on the line, a playoff-like atmosphere in the air.
Monday’s showdown between rivals St. Rita and St. Laurence had it all, and it was only fitting that the game went extra innings to decide a winner.
On this day, visiting St. Rita made the plays late. The undefeated Mustangs squeaked out a 2-1 victory over St. Laurence in 10 innings in Burbank.
“I’ve been in that position, and they’ve (St. Laurence) walked off (with a win) on me before,” St. Rita’s Jake Shepski said. “I’ve been humbled many times and it feels good senior year to come out and be on top this time.”
Shepski closed things out offensively and defensively for St. Rita (25-0, 11-0), coming up huge at the plate and on the mound.
In a 1-1 game in the 10th, the senior’s hard grounder up the middle bounced off the glove of St. Laurence reliever John Riordan, allowing courtesy runner C.J. Weydeman to score. Weydeman ran for Tony Faron, who led off the inning with a single.
“Whatever gets the job done, right?” Shepski said with a smile. “I struggled a little bit at the plate today but I was doing my best to battle and try to get this win for us.”
Working with the lead after already having pitched in the ninth, Shepski proceeded to set St. Laurence down in order in the bottom half of the 10th. The senior threw a perfect two innings in relief.
St. Rita finally had the win, St. Laurence’s Brad Wood lining out to second to end the game.
“That’s a good baseball game right there,” St. Rita coach Mike Zunica said. “If you’re a fan, you’ve got to enjoy that. St. Laurence made some great plays defensively. That’s a push.”
Shepski (3-0) came into the game in relief of Mike Costanzo, the star southpaw who dueled with St. Laurence starter Wood.
Costanzo went eight innings, scattering four hits and three walks with six strikeouts.
Wood went nine innings for St. Laurence (21-3, 9-2), allowing just five hits and four walks with seven strikeouts.
“I could care less (about getting the win personally),” Costanzo said. “I told Shep (Shepski) ‘I don’t care how we win. I don’t care how it looks. As long as we’re winning, I don’t care.’ ”
St. Rita tied the game in the sixth on a Chris Delgadillo RBI double.
St. Laurence went up 1-0 on a T.J. Marik RBI double in the second.
“It was definitely exciting,” Wood said. “We had a really big crowd today and it seemed like every pitch everyone was yelling and screaming, really into it. It got the adrenaline going for sure, especially with the big plays.”