The York baseball team’s offense might have been somewhat cooled off Wednesday, but not enough to keep the Dukes from reaching the Fenwick Regional final.
Thanks to a great complete-game two-hitter from pitcher Greg Castello, the Dukes’ two runs in the top of the sixth inning were enough to defeat Nazareth 2-1 in the regional semifinal of the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Phil Lawler Summer Classic state tournament at the Priory in River Forest.
As the No. 13 seed in the regional, York (13-17) will play for the regional final at 2 p.m. today (Thursday) at the Priory (Harlem Avenue and Greenfield Street) against St. Joseph, a 3-2 winner over 2011 Class 4A state champion Lyons Township in Wednesday’s other semifinal. Top-seeded Nazareth (24-3) was the defending summer state champion and had taken fourth in Class 3A in June.
The regional champion advances to next week’s eight-team state tournament. York had scored 26 runs in its first three regional victories.
“You know what? We just keep rolling along,” York coach Dave Kalal said. “It was a great game by both teams. The pitching was outstanding, the defense was outstanding, timely hitting for both teams. It was just a great high-school game that probably took an hour and 25 minutes. I don’t really know what to say.
“It’s just a lot of fun. I said to the kids, just enjoy it, enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the intensity of it. We live to see another day.”
Leadoff hitter River Pitlock opened York’s sixth with a double and Jake Rzeszutko beat out an infield grounder on the first-base side of the mound. After Rzeszutko advanced to second on a wild pitch, Pitlock scored on Peter Doughty’s ground out to shortstop. Rzeszutko, who reached third on the play, then scored on Anthony Santos’ ground out to shortstop.
In the fifth, York’s Mike Trumbull hit a one-out triple and Josh LoCicero singled and took second when the base was not covered, but an infield ground out and strikeout kept the game scoreless. Nazareth then scored in the bottom of the fifth when Castello hit the first two batters he faced, followed by a sacrifice and an RBI ground out to second base.
“They just keep bouncing back. They’re resilient. They don’t quit. They keep fighting,” Kalal said. “They battle until the end. They want to win. They want to make a name for themselves and they want to make a name for the program and that’s what we’re shooting for. When people talk about teams that have won state championships, we want to be included in that same sentence with them. This is just another stepping stone up the mountain.”
Castello finished with seven strikeouts and no walks. He allowed only a two-out single in the first and leadoff single in the fourth with that runner being stranded at third. Pitlock threw a two-hit, complete game in Tuesday’s 7-0 quarterfinal victory over Oak Park-River Forest.
“Castello was outstanding. Even when he got himself in trouble a couple of times, he just pitched his way out of some jams,” Kalal said.
Nazareth pitcher Ryan Marske also was solid, giving up just seven hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Markske retired the first 11 Dukes in order before Doughty hit a two-out single in the fourth. Josh Paparone and Trumbull added hits in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively.
Marske was 9-1 for the Roadrunners during the high-school season but had pitched only three innings for the summer team before Wednesday because of commitments with his traveling team. Nazareth has seven returnees from its downstate spring lineup, four strong pitchers but no field players.
“My hat’s off to their kid. (Marske) just kept us off balance the entire game from the first inning on,” Kalal said.
Even though York has won two Illinois high-school state championship (1993 and 1960), this summer success is fairly uncharted territory. This past high school season, the Dukes lost their 4A Willowbrook Regional championship game to Glenbard West.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever been in the Sweet 16 of the summer state playoffs so this is good for us,” Kalal said. “The last two springs we’ve been in the regional championship game so we’re familiar with these big games. We’ll handle ourselves like champions and we’ll compete like champions and hopefully we can just scoot away with another victory.”