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Baseball: Mike Costanzo stands tall, sends St. Rita past Mount Carmel for sectional title

St. Ritposes with Sectional Championship plaque after beating Mount Carmel 4-3 for 4A Softball Reavis Sectional Championship. Saturday June 7th

St. Rita poses with the Sectional Championship plaque after beating Mount Carmel 4-3 for the 4A Softball Reavis Sectional Championship. Saturday, June 7th, 2014, in Burbank. | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 9, 2014 6:36AM



Mike Costanzo hasn’t lost many games during his three-year varsity career at St. Rita. Mount Carmel, however, had the senior left-hander’s number.

The Caravan beat Costanzo three times, including a 12-4 romp on May 17.

“I’ve been lit up all three times,” said Costanzo, who has won 28 games in his varsity career. “I’ve been tattooed.”

That changed Saturday during the biggest game of the season. Costanzo limited Mount Carmel to two runs over six innings and St. Rita held on for a 4-3 win to claim the Class 4A Reavis Sectional championship.

St. Rita (35-4) advances to Monday’s Crestwood Supersectional against Downers Grove South. The two teams squared off earlier this season, with Rita prevailing 7-6. The defending Class 4A state champion Caravan finished at 31-8.

“I couldn’t eat this morning and I woke up at 6 (a.m.) and couldn’t get back to sleep,” said Costanzo, who allowed four hits, four walks and struck out two. “That team is no joke over there. That’s one of the best lineups we faced all year.”

A fielding error by Costanzo in the top of the first inning allowed Mount Carmel to grab a 1-0 lead.

St. Rita forced a 1-1 tie in its half of the first against starter Marko Boricich as Tyler Halas blooped a single to scored Danny Gleaves (2-for-2).

The Mustangs took the lead for good at 2-1 in the second thanks to a Caravan error. St. Rita opened that up to 4-1 in the fourth with Shane Peisker’s RBI single and Halas’ fielder’s choice.

“The last two or three weeks we’ve been playing great baseball, great defense,” Mount Carmel coach Brian Hurry said. “A couple of plays we didn’t make were uncharacteristic for us.”

The Caravan committed three errors on the day.

In true St. Rita/Mount Carmel fashion, though, drama unfolded in the seventh.

Costanzo walked Greg Ploszaj to lead off the inning, forcing St. Rita coach Mike Zunica to call on Jake Shepski, who registered a complete-game win Wednesday.

After Shepski retired two straight hitters, Jeremy Hoston and Malik Carpenter singled, cutting the lead to 4-2, and Josh Stowers walked, loading the bases.

“When they got that first hit up the middle (Houston RBI hit), I thought I’d get the next guy,” Shepski said. “But they kept getting guys on.”

That is, until Shepski got Scott Kapers to pop out to shortstop Marty Bechina to end the game.

“We had the tying and winning runs on base,” Hurry said. “I’m proud of the way the kids kept battling.”



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