The 2015 IHSA Class 3A & Class 4A Baseball State Finals return to Silver Cross Field, home of the Joliet Slammers, in Joliet on Friday and Saturday, June 12-13. Friday’s semifinals will unfold at 10:00 a.m. and noon, respectively, with the Class 4A semifinals following at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Saturday’s action starts at 9:00 AM with the Class 3A third-place game, which will be followed by the 3A state championship at 11:30 AM. The Class 4A third-place and title games follow in the afternoon. All eights games this weekend will be broadcast live by the NFHS Network on www.IHSA.tv as IHSA TV veterans Dave Bernhard and Mark Lindo return to call the action.
A preview of Friday's semifinal games is below:
Class 3A Semifinals
WHEATON ST. FRANCIS (26-9) vs.
NAZARETH ACADEMY ROADRUNNERS (31-8)
First-year head coach Nick Hall has St. Francis in the state finals for the second time in program history. The program’s first turn was a second-place finish in 2013 where then sophomore Jason Sullivan took the loss in the title game despite allowing just two earned runs on four hits. Sullivan is enjoying a banner senior season as a pitcher (11-1, 0.80 ERA) and hitter (.432, 32 RBI), while senior second baseman Jake Radel (.417, 39 RBI) and junior catcher Brett Whelton (.438, 4 HR) provide pop to the lineup.
Nazareth went 6-5 down the stretch of the regular-season, but as usual, Lee Milano’s squad was ready for the postseason, where they ripped through their five opponents by a combined score of 49-11. A deep Roadrunner pitching staff features five pitchers with more than 30 innings pitched this season, including seniors Donald Kelly (8-2, 1.53 ERA) and Matt Wilson (7-0, 1.71 ERA). Nazareth has plenty of capable hitters as well, but no one has been a bigger catalyst in 2015 than senior outfielder Ryan Kramer (.455, 39 R, 23 RBI, 4 HR).
MORGAN PARK MUSTANGS (25-12) vs.
HIGHLAND BULLDOGS (26-13)
Morgan Park's inaugural state final trip marks the first by a Chicago Public School since Clemente in 2002, while Ernest Radcliffe’s squad will also be the first CPS team to bring home a state baseball trophy since Simeon placed fourth in 1998. The Mustangs enter as winners in 11 of their last 12 games, thanks in part to strong pitching from junior pitcher Jarren Norman (5-4, 4.00 ERA). Morgan Park depends on sophomore outfielder Darius Hill (.397, 34 R) and sophomore third baseman Donivan Williams (.359, 18 RBI) to set the tone offensively.
Highland returns to the state finals for the first time since 2008, when Joel Hawkins’ Bulldogs opened four-class baseball with their first state title in school history. After dropping the final four games of the regular-season, including a doubleheader to Mt. Vernon, Highland avenged that defeat in the Sectional final with a one-run victory. Senior lefty Grant Geppert (8-3, 1.89 ERA, 74 K) is the ace of the staff and a strong presence in the lineup (.378, 34 R, 29 RBI), while senior Jim Smith (.467, 33 R) and Cody Bentlage (.348, 21 RBI) set the tone for the Bulldog offense.
Class 4A Semifinals
CHICAGO MT. CARMEL CARAVAN (35-4) vs.
JACOBS GOLDEN EAGLES (29-10)
Since taking over at Mt. Carmel in 2000, Brian Hurry has turned the Caravan into one of the state’s top programs. Mt. Carmel is making its fifth state final appearance this weekend, including a state title in 2013. Three regulars return from that title team, including senior second baseman Ako Thomas (.408, 39 R, 4 HR) and senior outfielder Josh Stowers (.383, 25 RBI). Nelson Munoz didn’t make an appearance in the state finals two years ago, but the senior has developed into the Caravan ace (13-0, 2.25 ERA, 85 K) as a senior in 2015.
Head coach Jamie Murray has had an immediate impact on the Jacobs program, winning 97 games thus far into his fourth season, not to mention the first state final appearance in school history this weekend. Seniors Ryan Sargent (5-2, 1.54 ERA, 64 K) and Ryan George (8-0, 2.08 ERA, 60 K) pace a deep Golden Eagle pitching staff that has seen nine different pitchers record victories this year. The Jacobs offense depends on production from standout senior shortstop Matt Kozlak (.333, 27 R).
OAK PARK-RIVER FOREST HUSKIES (30-7) vs.
PROVIDENCE CATHOLIC CELTICS (29-11)
Chris Ledbetter and company add another chapter to Oak Park-River Forest’s storied baseball tradition. The 2015 edition of the Huskies are making the 14th state final appearance in school history and vying for a fourth state title, which would be the second under Ledbetter (2012). Chris Atwood, a 6-4 lefty, has been the team’s top pitcher (7-2, 2.04 ERA) and a capable hitter (.379, 43 R) this season, while senior catcher Patrick Rumoro (.377, 40 RBI) and senior outfielder Ryan Fish (.354, 39 R) spark the offense.
Mark Smith helped Providence capture its third state title in school history a year ago, and despite a 5-7 stretch to the close the season, playing in the rugged Chicago Catholic League prepared the Celtics for another deep postseason run. The pitching staff has turned over since last year, creating the opportunity for seniors Brent Villasenor (8-3, 2.36 ERA) and Jake Carlsen (6-2, 2.23 ERA) to step into the ace roles. Offensively, junior infielder Mike Madej (.416, 45 R, 31 RBI) continues to hit at a torrid pace after accumulating three hits in last year’s championship game.
76th annual State Series
8th year of 4-Class Series
Silver Cross Field (Joliet)
Updates/delays posted on Twitter at @IHSAWeather
Friday, June 12
Class 3A Semifinals
St. Francis vs. Nazareth
Morgan Park vs. Highland
Class 4A Semifinals
Mt. Carmel vs. Jacobs
Oak Park-River Forest vs. Providence Catholic
Saturday, June 13
Class 3A Finals
9:00 a.m. - Third-Place
11:30 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
WJOL 1340 AM (Joliet)
RESULTS & BOX SCORES
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HISTORY & RECORDS
2015 3A State Series
2015 4A State Series
Record Book & Past Champions
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