Joliet Catholic pulls upset on Tigers

Updated: May 20, 2011 8:58PM

The young Joliet Catholic baseball team has thrived on pitching and defense all season.

On Friday afternoon at Plainfield North, junior right-hander John Chignoli took full advantage of his chance to start.

Chignoli, who started a couple of game early on but has pitched largely in relief since, worked 4 2/3 innings in the Hilltoppers’ 8-3 nonconference victory.

Senior right-hander Kyle Cunningham relieved and finished the deal as Joliet Catholic (21-8 and ranked fifth in the Joliet area) joined Providence as the only teams to knock off the No. 3-ranked Tigers (29-2).

They say you see something different in every game, and the unique aspect Friday was that every inning for North began with a base hit. And yet, Chignoli held the Tigers scoreless until they pushed two across in the fifth on Brian Evak’s bases-loade single to slice their deficit to 8-2.

“You know what played into that,” Hilltoppers coach Jared Voss said. “One time we got a guy out stealing, another time they put a bunt down and we got the lead runner, and we got a guy out at the plate (on a perfect throw by junior right fielder Nate Searing). So our defense did a lot of little things.

“That helped John (Chignoli), but he made the most out of his opportunity to start. I’ve been reading about their offense in the paper; they’ve been scoring lots of runs.”

“Pitching and defense have been doing it for us all year,” Cunningham said. “If you look back, at the beginning of the year we had a lot of 2-0, 2-1, 3-1 type of games, where the pitching and defense kept us in.”

Joliet Catholic got to starter and loser Joe Cresta, a junior right-hander, for two runs in the first inning on two walks, a Ryan Peter single, Alex Voitik’s sacrifice fly and Chris Tschida’s RBI single.

The Hilltoppers tacked on another in the second on an overthrow on Zach Melone’s sacrifice, after which right-hander Kyle Bledsoe relieved Cresta. A three-run third against Bledsoe featured a walk, hit batsman, two wild pitches, a Voitik single, Adrian Nunez’s sacrifice fly and the first of Melone’s two ringing doubles.

“Too many walks,” North coach John Darlington said. “That was the disappointing thing today, that our guys that we had out there didn’t throw strikes. When you get behind against a good team, it’s hard coming back.”

Darlington said his postgame talk centered on “how we have had a good season, but we can’t come out and just go through the motions and expect to beat good teams. We almost got beat last night, too (by Romeoville). If we continue doing this, we will make an early exit (in the postseason).”

The final two Joliet Catholic runs came across on Nunez’s single and Melone’s second double in the fifth. Sean Renzi doubled and scored on a passed ball for North in the seventh.

Peter and Melone each had two of the Hilltoppers’ nine hits. Cody Columbus chipped in with a double.

Evak and Evan Whaley had two hits for North, and Kyle Palandech doubled.

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