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Disabato: Paint it Blue: It’s Catholic League foes in final

Providence's JustHunniford pumps his fist after hitting an RBI double against Prairie Ridge. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

Providence's Justin Hunniford pumps his fist after hitting an RBI double against Prairie Ridge. | Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 14, 2014 3:18PM



So after all the pitches, plays, hits and excitement, we are left with a pair of conference foes to battle it out for baseball supremacy in Class 4A.

St. Rita vs. Providence for all the marbles at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.

Be there, be square South Siders.

“It’s pretty neat, a great honor for our conference,” St. Rita coach Mike Zunica said. “There are a lot of great baseball teams.”

But the only two standing in 4A happen to be members of the Catholic League Blue.

On paper it would appear to be a major mismatch. That is, if you look at the respective won-loss records and head-to-head results. St. Rita is 37-4, Providence 27-14. The teams have met three times and each one resulted in a dominant win by St. Rita: 8-1, 14-1, 10-4.

But how’s the old saying go? That was then, this is now.

“They’re one of the hotter teams in the playoffs,” St. Rita first baseman Nick Goldsmith said. “We can’t really think about what we’ve done against them in the past.”

That’s a sound strategy because anyone underestimating Providence’s ability to win Saturday is delusional.

“Me, personally? You’d love to see the conference represented in the state championship,” said Providence coach Mark Smith of playing St. Rita for the state title. “Rita has beat us up three times. For us to win will be a monumental task.”

When Smith uttered those words, a smirk appeared on a few of his players faces.

This clearly is a different Providence team than the one that lost to St. Rita during the regular season. The Celtics have won six straight, including a come-from-behind 8-7 win over Metamora on Friday.

Providence has resembled the comeback kids throughout the postseason, rallying for victories on five occasions.

Now the Celtics hand the ball to Jake Godfrey, who has three wins and a save during the postseason. Additionally, Godfrey suffered an embarrassing 14-1 defeat to St. Rita in May. He surrendered nine runs, including four homers, in 11/3 innings.

In other words, Godfrey will be looking to redeem himself. Any person with an ounce of competitiveness would.

When asked after Providence’s win over Metamora who was going to be his starting pitcher Saturday, Smith initially was uncertain.

“I’m not sure,” Smith said. “It’s going to have to be a complete team effort.”

A few seconds later, Godfrey interjected and cleared up any doubt when he pretty much demanded the ball despite throwing 19 pitches and picking up the save Friday.

“I’m going to go (Saturday),” Godfrey said.

St. Rita, which won its first 26 games, has been the No. 1 team for most of the regular season. While Providence has won two state championships (1978, ’82), the Mustangs have yet to bring home the state’s top prize. No way they underestimate the Celtics with so much at stake.

“We know Godfrey is going to have a different approach,” St. Rita outfielder Shane Peisker said. “We have to respect him and play our hardest.”

The odds are stacked a little greater against the Celtics. Senior outfielder Phil Kunsa was ejected from Friday’s game and will have to sit out the state championship. Kunsa has 12 doubles, 11 homers and 46 RBI. However, not even his ejection in the first inning could deny the Celtics a victory.

“Things are going our way,” Providence senior Dylan Rosa said.

St. Rita used a magnificent performance from ace Mike Costanzo on Friday to upend South Elgin 3-2 and advance to the title game. The Mustangs will hand the ball to Jake Shepski, a Notre Dame recruit, to face Godfrey, an LSU recruit.

Really? Can it get any better?



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