Baseball: Ben Santori, Brett Lilek lead Marian Catholic past SimeonBenjamin Santori, of Marian Catholic, is mobbed by his teammates after the last out against Simeon to clinch the class 3A supersectionals at Standard Bank Stadium for the Class 3A Supersectionals, Monday, June 4th, 2012 in Crestwood, IL. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 4, 2012 8:24PM
Marian Catholic’s Devin Pickett was unsure how to sum up his feelings Monday night after the Spartans clinched their first trip to the state semifinals in school history.
One thing that was clear in his mind, though, was the need to reward Marian pitcher Ben Santori.
“Wow, Benny stepped up big time,” Pickett said. “He’s come through so many times for us this year. I’m going to buy him a steak tonight or something.”
Santori threw eight shutout innings and Pickett slid around Simeon catcher Blake Hickman’s tag to score on Brett Lilek’s single in the top of the eighth as Marian pulled out a 1-0 win in the Class 3A Crestwood Supersectional.
The Spartans (23-17) will meet Nazareth in a state semifinal at noon Friday in Joliet.
Pickett reached on an error with one out in the eighth and stole second. With two outs, Lilek ripped a single to right. Shane Brown fired home, but Pickett slid around the tag.
“I was expecting a curveball,” Lilek said. “I got it and I just sat back and drove it. It was one heck of a slide from Devin. It was a storybook ending.”
Santori (3-2) struck out two in a perfect bottom of the eighth to finish his gem. He allowed three hits, struck out 12 and did not issue a walk.
“(Simeon) is a great team and it was hard to keep them down the whole game,” he said. “All my off-speed stuff was working today.”
The Spartans survived despite leaving 10 men on base as Darius Day went the distance for Simeon (31-8), allowing five hits and three walks while striking out six.
Simeon center fielder Corey Ray made a terrific diving catch to rob Pat Schmidt of an extra base-hit that likely would have scored two in the third.
Santori got Ray to bounce out to first to leave runners at second and third in the first. The senior struck out Terrance Robertson to end the Wolverines’ other major threat, stranding the potential winning run at third in the seventh.
“This is awesome,” Santori said. “We’ve left our legacy at Marian. I’m in shock.”