Updated: July 6, 2014 9:59AM
After pitching primarily out of the bullpen this season, St. Rita’s Jake Shepski made his first start May 17 against Mount Carmel.
With the season on the line, Shepski intends to make the most of it each and every time he’s handed the ball, whether it’s a start or in relief.
The right-hander threw a gem Wednesday, going the distance as St. Rita prevailed 2-0 over Lyons in a Class 4A Reavis Sectional semifinal.
St. Rita (34-4) will play Mount Carmel or St. Laurence at 11 a.m. Saturday
“With the playoffs, you’re in it all the time (mentally),” Shepski said. “That mentality is always there, and you can’t let runners bother you. Once you’re playing for your team, you don’t have anything to worry about.”
Shepski (6-1) allowed five hits, walked one and struck out seven. His success came after an experimental bullpen session last week.
“(Wednesday) was the first time I came out throwing some sidearm,” Shepski said. “I threw it in a bullpen (session) and was pumped to try it. I threw for strikes then, threw for strikes (Wednesday), and it ended up working out.”
Shepski outdueled Lyons’ Sam Heilenbach, who went six innings, giving up two runs, (one earned) on just two hits. He struck out 10.
“It’s survival,” St. Rita coach Mike Zunica said. “Heilenbach is a good pitcher. Tip your cap to him and (Shepski).”
After a Shepski walk in the fourth, courtesy runner Matt Murawski stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. When Lyons catcher Kyle Dilcher’s throw sailed into the outfield, Murawski trotted home for the game’s first run.
In the fifth, St. Rita’s Marty Bechina scored in eerily similar fashion, stealing second and third before coming home on another throwing error to give St. Rita a 2-0 lead.
“That’s what it takes in playoff baseball,” Bechina said. “We got two ugly runs, and it was our worst hitting performance of the year. We still found a way.”
Heilenbach, Dilcher, Josh Kuntz, Charlie Harrigan and Maximiliano Larsen all had hits for Lyons (27-9).
“We competed. Shepski is probably the best pitcher we’ve seen,” Lyons coach George Ushela said. “They capitalized on our errors. I’m proud of our kids. They compete, and kids make errors. Kyle Dilcher is a heck of a great kid, and those two errors don’t define him.”
Class 3A Brooks Sectional
De La Salle 5, Latin 0: Alex Padilla pitched a three-hitter and struck out 16 to lead De La Salle (23-13) in the semifinal. Joe Gazzi (3-for-4) scored two runs for the Meteors and Trevino Rodriguez (1-for-2) added two RBI.