Crusaders top Mustangs in slugfest

  • Written by Steve Millar


Pettis' three RBIs, defensive plays by Peyton and Doligale lead Rice into sectional final

By Steve Millar

In a game in which 26 combined runs were scored, two of the biggest plays for Brother Rice came on the defensive side Thursday against St. Rita.

Sophomore catcher Joey Peyton’s pickoff throw and junior right fielder Danny Doligale’s throw to nail a runner at the plate helped the Crusaders hold on for a wild 15-11 win over the Mustangs in a Class 4A St. Laurence Sectional semifinal.

Brother Rice (26-12) advanced to take on Mount Carmel, 18-5 winners over St. Laurence on Wednesday, in Saturday’s sectional final.

After trailing 9-2, St. Rita (21-17) cut the deficit to 9-7 and had runners at the corners in the fifth innings when Peyton caught a runner leaning off third base, picking him off to end the inning.

The Mustangs’ Brendan Carrane then led off the sixth with a triple and Jalen Greer followed with a potential sacrifice fly, but Doligale nailed Carrane at the plate with a laser of a throw to keep the lead at two.

“I wasn’t really getting it done with the bat, so I had to find a way to contribute to the team,” Doligale said. “Doing it defensively is always good. Going in full-steam ahead and throwing someone out is fun.”

The clutch throw turned the tide back in the Crusaders’ favor.

“I thought Danny’s throw changed the game,” Brother Rice coach John McCarthy said. “I felt like momentum was going the other way. That’s what the playoffs are all about. You have to make special plays. He did that.”

The Crusaders rode the momentum into the bottom of the sixth, when they put up six runs to open a 15-7 lead. Jacob Koos delivered a pinch-hit two-run single in the inning, Kendall Pettis produced an RBI single and Mike Bolton drove in a run with a triple.

Pettis, an Oklahoma recruit, capped a huge day. The leadoff hitter went 5-for-5 with a double, four singles and three RBIs.

Pettis said it was the first five-hit game of his career.

“I’ve been struggling lately, but over the last couple days I worked a lot, made sure I got some swings in and it definitely helped,” Pettis said. “I’m glad I did that.”

Bolton, Dillan Fike (3-for-3) and Ryan Maher all drove in a pair of runs for the Crusaders.

St. Rita did not go down without a fight, scoring four runs in the seventh.

David Gleaves and Mike Skoraczewski drew bases-loaded walks, Carrane drove in a run with a single and Greer was hit by a pitch to drive in a run and make it 15-11.

The Mustangs had the bases loaded with one out but Ryan Palmblad, Brother Rice’s fourth pitcher of the inning retired the final two hitters to earn the save.

Palmblad struck out Bobby Atkinson to end the game.

Jake Zylman homered and drove in two runs, while Mike Botthoff had a two-run single for St. Rita.

“When we got together going to the top of the seventh, we said ‘Let’s lay it out there and see what happens,’” St. Rita coach John Nee said. “We talk about trying to find a way to get the tying run to the plate and we did that with our three and four hitters at the plate. I’ll take that any day.”