Bob Landi expects his Montini baseball team to know when to be aggressive.
Right now, nobody's more aggressive than Kurtis Ligocki.
The senior went 2-for-2 with a third-inning grand slam and five RBI Thursday as fifth-seeded Montini rolled over No. 11 Lake View 12-2 in the semifinals of the Class 3A Lake View regional in Chicago. Ligocki delivered the game's decisive blow on the first pitch he saw from Lake View starter Adam Rivera, continuing a recent habit of his.
"Last game I went 3-for-3 with a single, double and a triple. They were all on the first pitch," Ligocki said. Rivera "threw it right down the middle -- a straight fastball -- and I just put good bat on it."
Even before Ligocki's blast -- which capped a six-run third and put Montini up 9-0 -- the Broncos weren't taking any chances against lower-seeded Lake View.
Landi made his own aggressive decision to start junior ace Ben Dobosenski, who delivered by scattering three hits through four scoreless innings. He threw effectively despite an injury sustained when he fouled a ball off of his foot during batting practice earlier in the day.
The injury forced Dobosenski to limit his repertoire to fastballs and changeups, though he still managed to strike out seven batters before exiting the game with his pitch count up around 90.
"We were worried about whether or not his foot was going to swell up and how he was going to be on the mound," Landi said. "We tried to keep things simple."
Montini struck first in the second inning when Rivera walked a pair of batters and Ligocki bounced an RBI single to left that Lake View's outfield misplayed, allowing a second run to score. Ligocki later scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
Dobosenski found himself in a nerve-wracking situation in the third with runners at the corners and only one out. But he escaped with a strikeout and a routine grounder to third, and Montini's offense exploded in the bottom half of the inning.
Sophomore Eddie Bava led off the third with a single, and Rivera sandwiched a pair of hit batters around an RBI single by junior Chris Bartosz. Rivera walked in another run to make it 5-0, then grooved a fastball that Ligocki lined over the fence in left for his first home run of the year.
Even with Rivera looking wild, Landi said he wasn't surprised to see Ligocki go after the first pitch.
"We tell the kids there are times to be aggressive and times not to be," Landi said. "Sometimes when a kid is struggling and he's walking kids, the first pitch to the No. 8 hitter he's going to throw a fastball, and he's not going to be too cute with it."
Lake View (11-20) stranded 10 men on base and didn't score until senior Josh Henry rapped an RBI single off of reliever Eric Frontzak in the fifth inning. The Wildcats left thinking that most of their wounds were self-inflicted.
"It came down to a few plays there," Lake View coach Brett Bildstein said. "Struggling to throw strikes and (Rivera throws) a fastball in there and (gives up) a grand slam. You've got two misplayed balls that really accounted for all of their runs."
Montini (20-16) will play No. 4 Glenbard South -- which beat Noble Street 16-1 on Wednesday to give coach Mike Riley his 500th victory -- for the regional championship at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Ligocki will get the start for Montini.
"We wanted to work toward Glenbard South," Ligocki said. "They're a very good hitting team, but we can just play our game and we'll do well."