Joliet Catholic bats get hot against SandburgSandburg’s Matt Shimonis dives safely back into second as
Joliet Catholic’s Chris Tschida takes the pic off throw in
Orland Park Tuesday. July, 19, 2011.
Ray Luna ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 19, 2011 10:46PM
Having already thrown six strong innings, Joliet Catholic pitcher Kevin Duchene was more than prepared to go out to the mound for the seventh.
But given Tuesday’s extreme heat and humidity, Duchene wasn’t about to pass up the rest and insurance runs his offense provided him.
The Hillmen added five insurance runs in the seventh to blow open a close game, and Duchene closed out his complete-game effort in Joliet Catholic’s 11-3 Sandburg Regional quarterfinal win in the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association playoffs.
“I didn’t have my best stuff, and it felt like it was 100 degrees out there today,” Duchene said. “You just have to get through it. That long inning, that prolonged it. It gave me a little bit more rest, and I felt good (in the seventh).”
With his fastball his only consistent pitch working, and working with a small strike zone, Duchene allowed just six hits and struck out three, letting his defense aid the cause.
The senior took the mound in the bottom of the first already staked to a four-run lead as the Hillmen jumped on Sandburg starter Ryan Donegan.
Alex Voitik’s RBI double to left field scored Nate Searing to start things off, with Chris Tschida and Adrian Nunez adding RBI singles and Ryan Peter coming through with an RBI groundout. Joliet Catholic slapped out six hits in the inning.
“It always happens like that,” Voitik said. “Baseball is a weird game. Everyone gets hits and it keeps going; same thing with defense. The momentum carries on through the game.”
After surrendering a single to Adam Zehme in the second, Duchene retired 11 of the next 12 batters he faced.
“Pitch to contact, that’s all you need to do,” Voitik said. “We have a pretty solid defense that will make the plays.”
Sandburg (12-4) finally got to Duchene in the sixth, scoring three runs, but that was all the offense could muster.
Leading 6-3, Joliet Catholic batted around in the seventh, scoring five runs on four hits. Voitik hit a solo homer to left to start the explosion.
“I just swung the bat,” the junior catcher said with a smile. “I was aiming opposite field, but it didn’t work that way. You’ve just got to get out there and do what you need to do, swing the bats.”
Given a long rest as his offense rounded the bases in the top of the inning, Duchene set down Sandburg 1-2-3 in the bottom half.
Voitik finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs. The bottom third of Joliet Catholic’s order, including Brock Pluth, Andrew Gudac and Zach Melone (3 RBI), managed eight hits and scored four times.
Joliet Catholic will face either Lincoln-Way East in Wednesday’s semifinals.