Everything’s coming up Rosa
Celtics player keys title-game win over Crusaders
What he couldn’t do with his arm, Dylan Rosa did to Brother Rice with his bat on Saturday.
Providence Catholic’s starting pitcher didn’t earn a win himself in the Class 4A Lockport Regional final, but he made sure the Celtics pocketed one as a team. Rosa’s two-out homer in the ninth inning broke a 4-all tie and gave Providence the edge it needed to grab a 5-4 triumph.
Reliever Brent Villasenor gained the mound victory, while the Celtics’ No. 1 hurler, Jake Godfrey, registered a save by whiffing two batters in the bottom of the ninth.
“It was a heartbreaker, but that’s part of the game,” Crusaders coach John McCarthy said. “There’s no easy way to go down [this time of year].
“It was a great game, one for the ages. I tip my hat to Providence. The better team [on that day] won.”
The homer wasn’t the only dagger Rosa stuck in Rice (26-11). He also stroked a two-RBI double in the fourth, part of a three-run Celtics uprising that staked them to a 4-1 lead. Zach Pych had an RBI single in the same inning, while Tom Jeffries got Providence’s scoring started with his two-out double in the second.
The Crusaders’ only responses through the first six innings were solo tallies in the second and sixth. Eric Lieser crossed the plate on a passed ball after singling in the second and Mike Schalasky singled home Kevin Biondic (double) for the later marker.
But in the seventh, Rice positioned itself for a comeback. Hits by Mike Massey (RBI double), Andrew Dyke and Kyle Hilliard (infield) were all part of the rally, as were Lieser’s RBI groundout and a Celtics error.
When Dyke was stationed at second, he represented the winning run, but there he remained. Villasenor fanned two consecutive hitters to spare Providence and eventually set the table for Rosa’s final heroics.
Ian McGinnis was the losing pitcher in relief of Brian Musielak, despite surrendering just two hits over four innings and striking out three.
“You feel like your heart got ripped out, but what a great game, from top to bottom,” McCarthy said. “It had everything — dramatics, tension, pressure, emotion — and our kids fought hard.
“It’s tough when you have to say goodbye, but at least we can leave with our heads held high. We didn’t give anything away. They beat us.”
Even without a regional championship in their grasp, the Crusaders continued their improvement under McCarthy. They stayed in the hunt for a Chicago Catholic League Blue title the entire way and their win total eclipsed last season’s by five.
“This [loss] was very tough to swallow, but adversity is part of life and we’re definitely going in the right direction,” McCarthy said. “It has a lot to do with our coaching staff, but it’s mostly the kids. You couldn’t ask for a better group of seniors.
“They could have left when I got here [in 2012], but instead they left an imprint on the program that will last forever. You grow to love the kids around you and we’re going to miss them. We’re proud of who they are and what they’re all about, and these kids are going to be successful long term.”
As for his returnees, McCarthy is anxious to prepare them for 2015, beginning with the upcoming summer season.
“It was a fun year, but hopefully they take this [defeat] and learn from it to become better,” he said.
Brother Rice 5
Prior to tangling with their Catholic Blue rival, the Crusaders beat the host Thunderbolts last Wednesday.
Mike Enriquez notched his eighth victory in 10 decisions by holding Andrew without an earned run, giving up only two hits and whiffing five. Two seventh-inning walks and a pair of Rice errors led to the T’bolts’ only scoring.
By that time, they were well in arrears, courtesy of both the Crusaders’ sticks and Andrew’s own mishaps. Schalasky (single), Hilliard (single), Kevin Sullivan (double) and Massey (sacrifice fly) each delivered an RBI, but Rice also benefited from a T’bolts throwing error, two wild pitches and a couple of free passes.
Providence Catholic 010 300 001 -- 5
Brother Rice 010 001 200 -- 4
Brother Rice 2B: K. Biondic, Massey. RBI: Lieser, Massey, Schalasky. LP: McGinnis (5-3).
Andrew 000 000 2 -- 2
Brother Rice 021 002 x -- 5
Brother Rice 2B: Sullivan. RBI: Hilliard, Massey, Schalasky, Sullivan. WP: Enriquez (8-2).