Matt Reed's puffy right elbow wasn't the worst of it.
Despite a second state berth in as many months, Reed and his Libertyville baseball teammates were stinging bad following a 4-1 loss to St. Rita in the semifinals of the Phil Lawler Summer Classic at Benedictine University in Lisle on Wednesday night.
"We played young tonight," coach Jim Schurr said after his Wildcats had as many errors (4) as hits in seeing their summer end. "We had two seniors on the field (center fielder Reed and second baseman Noah Greenberg), and that's how we played."
St. Rita incoming senior left-hander Mike Costanzo turned in a veteran performance, striking out 13 while scattering 4 singles and walking five, as the Mustangs advanced to today's 7 p.m. summer state championship game against Lyons.
"Good off-speed, good curveball," said Reed, who started in left field for Libertyville's Class 4A state runner-up squad in the spring. "He was throwing hard."
Next to Mundelein's UIC-recruit Mitch Schulewitz, Schurr called Costanzo "as good as anybody we faced all spring." Costanzo's fastball touched consistently in the mid-80s. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder has been St. Rita's ace since his sophomore year.
"We haven't had too many guys like that," Mustangs coach Mike Zunica said.
Libertyville had Costanzo in his only real trouble in the bottom of the first inning. Jimmy Govern led off with a single, and Costanzo then hit Reed on the right elbow to put runners on first and second with none out.
"It got me right on the bone," said Reed, who stayed in the game. "I just lost bat speed from there. It really stiffened up on me by the end of the night. I just tried to battle through it."
An errant pickoff throw put Govern and Reed on second and third, respectively, but Costanzo got a strikeout for the first out. Mitch Townsend's groundout scored Govern, but Costanzo got another swinging strike three to prevent further damage.
"We missed out on that opportunity in the first, and from there we were just kind of a little flat," Reed said.
Aided by a first-inning double play triggered by shortstop Govern and a jump throw from deep in the hole by Govern to get a second-inning forceout, Libertyville junior lefty Andrew Plunkett held St. Rita scoreless until allowing a pair of unearned runs in the third. Tyler Haas' sacrifice fly tied the score at 1-1, and A.J. Fuller's bases-loaded walk gave the Mustangs the lead.
St. Rita scored another unearned run off Plunkett in the third.
Schurr wasn't happy after the game about his team's physical and mental errors.
"We set the bar real high for next season," said Greenberg, who along with Govern, Townsend and pinch hitter Jake Vogt singled for Libertyville. "I know that us two as leaders (Reed and I), we're going to get on the younger guys to get their work in during the off-season. We're going to be back (at state) next year -- in the spring and the summer."
St. Rita, which got 3 hits from first baseman Tony Faron, added another run in the sixth on Nate Soria's sacrifice fly. Libertyville put Nick Rossetti (walk) and Vogt (single) on base in the seventh, but Costanzo got back-to-back strikeouts to end it.
"We set the bar so high for ourselves (in the spring)," Reed said. "Now that we were at the top, we just want to get back there, and nothing but that is going to be good enough."
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