Baseball: Freshman Steven Skolarz blanks top-ranked Joliet CatholicSteve Skolarz, of Lincoln-Way West, delivers a pitch against Joliet Catholic at the Lincoln-Way West Sectionals, Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 in New Lenox, IL. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 30, 2012 10:10PM
The kid is a freshman, you just never would imagine it.
Young Lincoln-Way West right-hander Steven Skolarz, who began the season on the freshman level and was promoted from the sophomores to the varsity with about three weeks left in the regular season, enjoyed his version of a walk in the park Wednesday night, blanking Joliet Catholic 3-0 in the semifinals of the Class 3A Lincoln-Way West Sectional.
Skolarz allowed five harmless singles and three walks while striking out seven to continue the upset trend in the tournament. The Warriors, the No. 6 seed, had knocked off No. 3 Lemont 3-2 in last week’s regional final before taking down the No. 2 Hilltoppers.
Lincoln-Way West (24-13) will meet No. 5 seed Marian Catholic for the championship at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“I just blank everything out and pitch,” Skolarz (3-1) said of demonstrating a calm beyond his years. “I love pitching and living in the moment.
“But yeah, I am kind of shocked by what happened tonight.”
“It was a good day to pitch and Steve took advantage of it,” West coach Jake Zajc said. “There’s a lot of little things he has to pick up as freshman, but he’s like a sponge. He was poised and patient. We knew he was capable, but going out and doing it is another thing.”
West scored its three runs in the bottom of the fourth, the first on the second of two Joliet Catholic errors in the inning and the last two on Nick Andrade’s clutch two-out single. “Nick’s hit was really big,” Zajc said.
Junior right-hander Cal Placher, the first of four pitchers for the Hilltoppers (29-8-1), took the loss.
“He (Skolarz) did a good job and we didn’t score,” Joliet Catholic coach Jared Voss said. “He pitched a heck of a game and made big pitches in big situations.
“We worked hard all year to be in this situation, so it’s disappointing. But 29 wins is a good season.”