Baseball: Lincoln-Way West’s shutout of Joliet Catholic a numbers-cruncher
By Dennis Nelson For Sun-Times Media June 5, 2012 7:32PM
Shortstop Tyler Thorson and his Minooka teammates will meet Lyons at 5 p.m. Friday in a Class 4A state semifinal. | Bradley Leeb~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:42AM
A David slaying Goliath it was not.
However, Lincoln-Way West’s 3-0 shutout of Joliet Catholic in a Class 3A Lincoln-Way West Sectional semifinal bears some interesting facts and figures.
The Hilltoppers (29-8-1) were blanked for just the second time this season, this time by Lincoln-Way West freshman Steven Skolarz. The Joliet Catholic offense had averaged 5.9 runs per game during the season and came into the game with a .318 team batting average.
The Hilltoppers mustered just five hits and committed seven errors. During the season, Joliet Catholic averaged 1.17 errors per game.
Skolarz, who wasn’t on the Warriors’ varsity at the start of the season, threw 73 strikes in 113 pitches. He struck out seven and walked three to help West to its second straight tournament upset.
“I was excited and I knew it was going to be a great challenge for me,” Skolarz said. “I just had to stay focused on one pitch at a time and execute the game plan.
“I just wanted to work ahead and command the strike zone with all of my pitches. Talking with senior catcher Jake O’Leary helped me out as well.”
How did Skolarz keep Joliet Catholic’s hitters off balance?
“By moving the location around and mixing up my pitches well,” he said.
West (24-14) was beaten 11-2 Saturday in its sectional final by Marian Catholic. Despite the loss, the Warriors finished among the top 16 teams in the state in Class 3A.
Class 4A Andrew Sectional top seed Providence also was rudely ushered from the tournament via a 10-5 loss to Marist, which scored four runs in the fifth and six more in the sixth to stun the 2011 Class 4A runner-up.
Providence (28-8) outhit Marist 10-9, but committed four errors, a season high. Providence averaged less than an error per game (28 in 35 games) heading into the contest.
It marked the first time since 2007 a Joliet-area parochial school did not advance to the state semifinals in their respective class. Joliet Catholic finished among the top four in the state in 2008, ’09 and ’10.
The Joliet area was not shut out of the fun. Minooka (27-13) beat Naperville Central 6-3 at the University of Illinois Supersectional on Monday in Champaign.
Minooka lefty Josh Jimenez (11-2) outdueled Naperville Central ace Ian Lewandowski, who was 8-1 with a 1.17 ERA heading into the game. The Indians sent eight batters to the plate in the fifth inning, scoring four runs to break a 2-all tie. They tagged Lewandowski for four earned runs on eight hits in five innings.
The victory could mean something special is cooking for the Indians. The previous time the two teams met in a state tournament contest, Naperville Central won 9-0 on its way to winning the 2006 Class AA state title.
Minooka is making its third trip to the state semifinals. The Indians will meet defending Class 4A state champion Lyons (26-12-1) at 5 p.m. Friday.