Baseball: Nolasco blast caps Stevenson’s 7th inning rally at Mundelein

Matteo Nolasco turned a gloomy rainy game into a burst of sunshine for Stevenson Tuesday in Mundelein.

Nolasco belted a two-run, two out homer in the top of the seventh. The blast went into a stiff East wind and ended up clearing the bushes in left field to lift Stevenson to a 5-3 win over the Mustangs.

“I just tried to take a breath and be in the moment,” said Noalasco, a junior who drilled his first career varsity home run.

“It is not very often that you are put in situation where you can decide a game. So I just tried to think about it as another at-bat. It was a fastball, above the belt.”

Nolasco’s homered right after the sun appeared after a rainy start to the game.

The blast highlighted a three-run seventh for the Patriots (11-7, 5-1). It was a much needed win for Stevenson, which had dropped a 3-2 decision to Mundelein (11-4, 5-1) on Monday.

“We fought today,” Stevenson coach Nick Skala said. “Yesterday, we didn’t get it done, I felt that the pressure was building. It took just one big hit for us.”

Stevenson had appeared to be done when it headed to the top of the seventh.

In the previous inning, the Patriots had loaded the bases with no outs and the game tied 2-2. Kosuke Sakamoto, who bats seventh, was hit by a pitch, Nolasco walked and Will Nack, who bats ninth, was hit by a pitch.

But Mundelein’s Dylan Trahan got out the inning with a pop out, line out and strikeout.

“That’s momentum stuff,” Skala said. “And in our league, it is going to take all 21 outs to beat you. Matteo came up with that big swing later for us.”

Then Mundelein took the lead when Tyler Przespolewski doubled home Jake Junia, who had reached base on an error. The Mustangs tried to add an insurance run, but Stevenson relief pitcher Ben Fawcett threw out Przespolewski at the plate when Przespolewski attempted to score on a suicide squeeze.

Nick Rayyan opened the Patriots seventh with what appeared to be an easy grounder. But just before it reached the Mundelein infielder, it hit a rough spot and bounced up, catching everyone, including Rayyan, off guard. He was able to beat out the play for an infield hit.

“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about my at-bat when I was in the infield the previous inning,” said Rayyan, who had two hits on the day, “I led off yesterday and it didn’t end so well for me. But today, with this infield, anything can happen. And it did.”

Courtesy runner Brayden Fell moved around the bases on a bunt and a long fly ball. He then scored with two outs when an attempted pickoff throw sailed into left field to tie the game at 3-3.

The first four innings were played in just under 40 minutes and in the rain. Junia, who had singled with one out, gave the Mustangs a 1-0 lead. He scored when Przespolewski reached on a two-out error.

Stevenson came back to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth thanks to a pair of walks, an error and a single. Nack, who walked with one out, scored on an error and Brandon Schultz, who also had walked, scored on Frank Costabile’s RBI single.

Mundelein was able to tie the game in their half of the fifth. Nick Szalony, who was hit by a pitch, would later score on a fielder’s choice by Johnny Weiss.

“The swings of baseball, you never know what is going to happen,” Mundelein coach Randy Lerner said. “Fields, errors, good plays, bad plays, that’s part of the game. I thought both days were good. They were back and forth with momentum and energy.”

  Stevenson’s Matteo Nolasco is greeted at the plate by his teammates after hitting a two-run home run in the top of the seventh inning during a baseball game played on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 in Mundelein. Joe Lewnard/
  Stevenson starter Drew Clark pitches during a baseball game played on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 in Mundelein. Joe Lewnard/
  Stevenson’s Ben Fawcett celebrates after pitching in relief for the win in the Patriots’ 5-3 victory over Mundelein during a baseball game played on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 in Mundelein. Joe Lewnard/
  Mundelein starting pitcher Sean Sanderson makes a delivery toward the plate during a baseball game against Stevenson, played on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 in Mundelein. Joe Lewnard/
  Mundelein third baseman Griffin Troha throws from his knees to nab Stevenson batter at first base on a sacrifice bunt during a baseball game played on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 in Mundelein. Joe Lewnard/
  Mundelein’s Jake Junia celebrates as he heads home with the go-ahead run to give the Mustangs a 3-2 lead over Stevenson during the bottom of the sixth inning of a baseball game played on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 in Mundelein. The lead was short lived however, as Stevenson scored twice in the top of the seventh and won 5-3. Joe Lewnard/
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