Baseball: Brett Lilek mows down Nazareth, Marian Catholic one step closer to state titleMarian Catholic pitcher Brett Lilek celebrates with Devin Pickett and the rest of the team after pitching a two hit shutout in their semifinal game with Nazareth Academy.
Updated: June 8, 2012 6:25PM
Whatever was ailing Brett Lilek and Marian Catholic are just distant memories now.
Lilek was dominant on the mound, allowing two hits and striking out 11, as the Spartans blanked East Suburban Catholic Conference rival Nazareth 3-0 Friday afternoon in the Class 3A state semifinals at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.
Marian Catholic (24-17), which hadn’t won a sectional before this season, will play LaSalle-Peru (34-6) in the 3A final Saturday at 11 a.m. The Cavaliers beat Triad 5-2 in the first semifinal.
Lilek (7-4) is an Arizona State recruit who was drafted in the 37th round of this week’s draft by the Seattle Mariners. He lived up to that resume on Friday in his first outing against Nazareth since 2010.
“High-end Division I guy,” Nazareth coach Lee Milano said. “If he hadn’t been shut down five weeks of the season, he probably would have been a higher round pick. ... It’s tough enough to hit him when he doesn’t have command.
“But he had command today.”
“He was just hitting his spots really well, moving the ball up, down,” Nazareth pitcher Jake Bartels said. “He was changing up his offspeed. He was really keeping us off balance as hitters.”
Marian, meanwhile, was scratching away against Bartels (7-3).
Lilek (2-for-2, RBI) singled with one out in the second and pinch-runner Eric Hurley scored on a triple to left-center by Erik Callaghan (2-for-3, RBI).
The Spartans made it 2-0 in the third when senior Rob Cifelli (2-for-3, run, RBI) hit his first prep homer to the Bud Beach, a small seating area in front of the main wall in right field.
“I didn’t think it was gone,” Cifelli said. “I don’t even know what that feels like.”
“Off the bat, I thought, ‘Maybe this is just going to be a popout,’” Bartels said. Then I saw our right fielder going back [and thought], ‘It’s going on the beach.’ ’’
Pat Schmidt’s leadoff triple to right and Lilek’s sacrifice fly in the sixth accounted for Marian’s final run and the Spartans’ ace did the rest.
“When Brett pitches, it’s especially challenging because you don’t want to wait back on your heels,” Cifelli said. “Last year you’d see a lot of errors because guys wouldn’t be expecting the ball. This year we’ve definitely turned that around.”
Lilek struck out the side in the fourth and seventh. He walked four, hit one and committed two balks, but picked off one runner and allowed just two runners past first base.
“I was excited more than nervous,” he said. “I’m doing it for my team. I wanted to get a state bid and we did. Now I want us to win state.”
Bartels went the distance, allowing eight hits and two walks while striking out four.
Despite the loss, Nazareth (30-10) is assured of its second consecutive state trophy.
“I really think it’s a testament to the kids,” said Milano, whose team was fourth last season. “We lost every starter from last year’s team. We started two sophomores and five juniors on any given day. Expectations for people outside the program were we would not be back here.”
The Roadrunners lost senior right fielder Sean Maloney to a dislocated shoulder in the fifth inning, Maloney, who originally dislocated his shoulder in the first game of the season and returned a week later, was injured while trying to catch Devin Pickett’s triple.