Disabato: Southland baseball teams have what it takes for title in Classes 4A and 3A
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @disabato May 28, 2014 9:20PM
Sandburg's Sean Leland. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 30, 2014 12:44PM
With the high school baseball playoffs in full swing, the most common question I’m asked is, “Which team do you think will win a state championship?”
In most years, I could produce a clear-cut favorite to advance to the state finals in Joliet.
That’s not the case this postseason. In Class 4A, there are at least a half-dozen teams capable of advancing to Silver Cross Field on June 13 — and it’s not because of a watered-down talent pool. In fact, it’s the opposite. There’s an abundance of talented teams in the Southland, which makes the prediction business a very hazardous one.
That said, here’s a list of Southland teams I consider worthy of a state championship run in Classes 3A and 4A, beginning with the latter (listed in alphabetical order):
Lincoln-Way North (26-2): Arguably the most explosive hitting team in the area, though the Phoenix barely escaped Shepard’s upset bid Wednesday. Led by Erik Eggert, Connor Grove, Zach Hoekstra and Mike Rissley, the Phoenix can score runs in bunches. Lefty Kyle Ostrowski, along with Joey Fredrickson, leads a deep staff.
Mount Carmel (30-6): The Caravan has a dangerous lineup, featuring Ako Thomas, Josh Stowers and Malik Carpenter and a catcher, Scott Kapers, who is tough to run against. Mount Carmel lacks a power pitcher, but Marko Boricich, Richard Fordon and Co. are savvy.
Providence (22-14): The Celtics upended one of the area’s hottest teams, Lockport, in its own yard Wednesday, 4-2. Pitchers Jake Godfrey and Dylan Rosa have nasty stuff and could be ready to put it all together. The Providence offense, led by Ben Salvador, Phil Kunsa and Rosa, has potential. A sleeper.
St. Laurence (31-5): The Vikings boast two lockdown pitchers in Brad Wood and Mike Kornacker and, if needed, can call on Alex Hitney from the bullpen. This senior-dominant team is battle-tested, with Mike Miller, Roger Wilson and T.J. Marik leading he way.
St. Rita (32-4): The Mustangs limped to the finish line, losing four of their last nine in the regular season. However, this team can flat-out rake. Speedy Danny Gleaves is a menace on the bases, and sluggers Jake Shepski, Tyler Halas and Nick Goldsmith can inflict damage. Lefty Mike Costanzo must return to form if the ’Stangs have any chance.
Sandburg (23-8): There isn’t a more dominant three-man staff than Bryan Pall, Sean Leland and Matthias Dietz. A combined sub-1.00 ERA is testament to that. However, the Eagles struggle to score runs. If the offense finds its mojo, watch out.
First off, the champion of the Joliet Catholic Regional will be the favorite to win state. Whether it’s Lemont, which beat Oak Forest 5-0 on Wednesday, Lincoln-Way West or Joliet Catholic, that will be the team to beat. The fact all are in the same regional should cause the IHSA to alter its playoff format. It’s borderline criminal that only one of these three teams, with a combined mark of 86-17, will advance beyond regional play.
De La Salle (21-13): The Meteors’ path through the regional and sectional is lined with gold. With Alex Padilla and Ivan Guzman, the Meteors have two quality pitchers. A lack of hitting is a concern, but that shouldn’t pose a problem competing in the Brooks Sectional.
Joliet Catholic (28-7): The 1-2 pitching punch of Nick Dalesandro and Drake Fellows is as good as any in the state. The offense is potentially explosive, with Mitch Boe, Rylan Bannon, Aaron Markley and Dalesandro.
Lemont (29-5): Pitcher Jake Latz has an 0.00 ERA. That’s as close to unbeatable as it gets. Lefty Charlie Wright is a more than capable No. 2. The key is going to be the offense, led by Jake Terrazas, Mike Wisz and Mike Papierski, consistently producing.
Lincoln-Way West (29-5): The Warriors boast superb pitching in Steve Skolarz, Luke Morgan and Dylan Eller and exceptional defense. But can the offense, led by Zach Speaker, Dan Brokop and Morgan, generate consistently against quality pitching?
Also, keep an eye on Morgan Park and Evergreen Park in 3A.