The action shifts north for the final weekend of the 2014 high school baseball season in Illinois. After crowning the Class 1A and 2A champs at Peoria’s Dozer Park last weekend, Silver Cross Field in Joliet will play host to the Class 3A and 4A semifinal and state championship tilts on Friday and Saturday, June 13-14. The 2014 state tournament marks the 75th annual edition of the state tournament, the seventh year of the four-class series and the 10th season that the Joliet Slammers’ home park will serve as the host.
The Class 3A tourney kicks off with a pair of first-time state final qualifiers in Metamora and Lemont meeting at 10:00 a.m. That game is followed by a noon matchup between Grayslake Central, who placed third a year ago, and a Sacred Heart-Griffin squad in search of its third state title and first since 1987.
Providence Catholic and Prairie Ridge and their three combined state championships open Class 4A semifinal play at 3:00 p.m. on Friday. The last game on Friday features St. Rita, who has played in two title games since 2009, against first-time state final qualifier South Elgin.
Saturday’s first pitch will occur at 9:00 a.m. with the Class 3A third-place game, followed by the 3A championship, 4A third-place game and 4A title game. Fans can watch every inning from Silver Cross Field live on the NFHS Network via www.IHSA.tv, as IHSA TV veterans Dave Bernhard and Lee Hall return to call the action.
METAMORA REDBIRDS (26-12) vs.
LEMONT INDIANS (33-5)
Metamora suffered a huge setback when Arizona commit and ace pitcher Trent Johnson was lost for the season with an injury in March. Head coach Eric Stone steadied the ship and has found pitching depth in sophomores Alex Lewis (7-1, 1.31 ERA) and Geremy Guerrero (7-1, 1.19 ERA, 72 K), with the latter tossing a one-hit shutout in Monday’s Super-Sectional win. At the plate, the Redbirds are led by junior SS/RF Ethan Skender (.397, 35 RBI, 11 HR) and junior 3B/C Caleb Brachbill (.379, 28 RBI).
Second-year head coach Brian Storako has guided Lemont to its first state final berth in school history by navigating a schedule that includes a win over defending 4A champ Mt. Carmel. The Indians success starts with the senior pitcher-catcher battery of Jake Latz (9-0, 0.25 ERA, 103 K) and Mike Papierski (.404, 26 RBI, 7 HR), LSU commits who were both also drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays last week. While Latz is the ace, senior lefty Charlie Wright (7-1, 0.77 ERA) provides the pitching depth that makes Lemont a contender.
GRAYSLAKE CENTRAL RAMS (29-10) vs.
SACRED HEART-GRIFFIN CYCLONES (37-3)
Grayslake Central is back in the state finals under head coach Troy Whalen for the third time since 2009, having placed third in 2009 and again last year. Five starters return from that team including a pair of offensive catalysts in junior 2B/SS Jay Hoffman (.434, 45 R, 17 RBI) senior SS/C Freddie Landers (.385, 33 R, 28 RBI). Most of the starting pitching from a year ago has turned over, but strong performances from junior lefty Justin Guryn (11-4, 1.48 ERA, 94 K) and senior Russell Lundius (7-1, 1.62 ERA) have made for a smooth transition and return state final trip.
Sacred-Heart Griffin looks to close its year by winning a baseball state championship to go along with the football title it earned back in November (when its efforts to help Washington made national news). With its Super-Sectional win, the Cyclones matched the win total of the 1987 SHG squad, which captured the school’s second state title. Cincinnati Reds draftee Mitch Trees (.404, 37 RBI, 5 HR) was the hero, as the catcher’s three-run home run in the seventh put SHG on top 5-2. The Cyclones have also received star performances from senior pitcher Connor Etheridge (13-0, 0.70 ERA) and junior lefty Ben McElwee (9-0, 0.85 ERA) in 2014.
PROVIDENCE CATHOLIC CELTICS (26-14) vs.
PRAIRIE RIDGE WOLVES (24-16)
It’s hard to ever call a decorated program (2 state titles in 7 appearances) like Providence Catholic an underdog, as the Celtics proved that their rugged schedule may have produced some losses this season, but it also prepared Mark Smith’s team for a postseason run. Leading the way is senior pitcher and Atlanta Braves draft pick Jake Godfrey (6-6, 3.02 ERA, 90 K) and junior Brent Villasenor (7-1, 2.22 ERA). Dylan Rosa (.403, 52 RBI, 10 HR), a three-year starter in the infield who also pitches, and senior outfielder Ben Salvador (.382, 37 R) pace the Providence offense.
Prairie Ridge makes its first state final appearance since 2008, when the school won the Class 4A crown in its first-ever state final trip. Glen Pecoraro’s squad started the year 2-8, losing seven one-run games this year overall, but got hot late and enters Friday having won 14 of its last 16. Junior Benjamin Cilano (5-0, 0.65 ERA) is the leader of a pitching staff that has several capable arms, including senior Jack Myers (2.21 ERA). The Wolves offense likes to play small ball, making the clutch hitting of seniors Marcus Sargeant (.319, 27 RBI) and Kyle Buresch (.296, 27 RBI) all that much more important.
ST. RITA MUSTANGS (26-4) vs.
SOUTH ELGIN STORM (24-10-1)
Mike Zunica has built St. Rita into one of the top baseball programs in the state, as the Mustangs are making their fifth overall state final appearance in 2014, all of which have come since 2004. St. Rita has placed second twice and hopes that the senior pitching combo of lefty Mike Costanzo (10-2, 1.64 ERA) and Jake Shepski (7-1, 1.35 ERA) can deliver the school’s first state championship. The lineup features several potent bats as well, including sophomore outfielder Danny Gleaves (.541, 46 R) and senior Jake Shepski (.405, 48 RBI, 5 HR). The Mustangs beat defending 4A champ Mt. Carmel twice this season and are also 3-0 against fellow state qualifier Providence Catholic.
Jim Kating has quietly built South Elgin into a title contender, beginning his tenure with a 10-win season in 2007 that culminates with the school’s first-ever state final appearance in 2014. The Storm was 6-7 through 13 games, but has lost just three times since May, including rolling through five postseason opponents by a combined margin of 46-10. Junior infielder Dane Toppel (.410, 34 R, 19 RBI) has been dialed-in at the plate in 2014, while the pitching tandem of senior Ryan Nutof (8-0, 0.39 ERA, 102 K) and senior Tyler Brown (5-3, 2.35 ERA) make South Elgin tough to beat when they are throwing.
Silver Cross Field (Joliet)
Friday, June 13
Class 3A Semifinals
Metamora vs. Lemont
Grayslake Central vs. Sacred Heart-Griffin
Class 4A Semifinals
Providence Catholic vs. Prairie Ridge
St. Rita vs. South Elgin
Saturday, June 14
Class 3A Finals
10:00 a.m. - Third-Place
12:00 p.m. - Championship
Class 4A Finals
3:00 p.m. - Third-Place
5:00 p.m. - Championship
All games available live on www.IHSA.tv
WFMB 1450 AM (Springfield)
Sacred Heart-Griffin games
WJOL 1340 AM (Joliet)
Arena Sports Network
RESULTS & BOX SCORES
IHSA Baseball Page
$6 per day
HISTORY & RECORDS
2014 3A State Series
2014 4A State Series
Record Book & Past Champions