Baseball: Kevin Duchene, Joliet Catholic blank Benet
Joliet Catholic senior left-hander Kevin Duchene was Phil Humberesque — as in perfect — for most of Wednesday’s 7-0 East Suburban Catholic victory for the No. 5 Hilltoppers over Benet at Gillespie Field.
But with two outs in the top of the sixth inning, Redwings senior outfielder Bobby Tumpane, a left-handed hitter in the 9-hole, rolled a ground ball up the middle on an 0-2 count. Second baseman Zach Melone got there but his quick throw to first was late.
“When the ump called him safe, I couldn’t believe it,” Melone said. “He probably beat it, but we just couldn’t catch a break there.”
“Zach made an unbelievable effort,” Joliet Catholic coach Jared Voss said.
The Redwings (10-10, 2-3) added two solid singles in the seventh to soften the blow. But Duchene (5-0), who finished with 13 strikeouts, no walks and threw 68 of 90 pitches for strikes, actually lowered his 0.25 ERA.
And yes, he knew the perfect game was brewing. “People were talking about it in the dugout,” he said. “I’d rather they didn’t, but it’s hard to avoid when you have a bunch of 17- and 18-year-old boys in there.”
Duchene, who pitched a one-walk no-hitter in the regional last year and has had “a couple five-inning no-hitters that I don’t even count,” was in a rhythm. Most of his strikeouts came on breaking balls.
“I found my groove,” he said. “My slider and curve were spot-on. That’s the first time I had pinpoint control with both pitches.”
Voss said the Illinois-bound Duchene “is a pitcher. There are high school kids around the country who throw harder and probably will be drafted in the first couple rounds, but Kevin can pitch.”
The Hilltoppers (17-5-1, 6-1) backed Duchene with a 13-hit attack against junior right-hander Jordan Rajewski. Melone, Chris Tschida, Ira Hughes and Adam Collins had two hits. Tschida and Adrian Nunez tripled and Alex Voitik doubled.