Scouting the Class 3A baseball finals

Updated 6/6/2013 8:29 PM

Grayslake Central (26-13) vs. St. Francis (24-11)

When: 10 a.m. Friday

Where: Silver Cross Field in Joliet

How they got here: Grayslake Central beat Johnsburg 4-2, Lakes 2-1, Lake View 8-0, Wauconda 6-4 and Nazareth 4-0. St. Francis beat Plano 6-3, Kaneland 3-2, Burlington Central 2-1, Sycamore 1-0 and Metamora 7-3.

Coaches: Grayslake Central coach Troy Whalen holds a 252-152 record in 11 years at the helm. St. Francis coach Rich Janor's record in 10 years is 190-145.

Tournament history: Grayslake Central finished third in Class 3A in 2009. St. Francis is making its first trip to the state semifinals.

Top hitters: Grayslake Central's strength lies in its balance. Kyle Balling, Kyle Clark, Ryan Fontana and Matt Loeffl each have at least 20 RBI and represent four of the first six batters in the lineup. Three hitter Balling boasts a team-high .407 batting average. Clark and Fontana have the team's only home runs. As always, St. Francis relies on its overall team speed. Tim Zettinger leads with 15 steals while Alex Alcantara and Jack Petrando are right behind with 12 apiece. Cleanup hitter Josh Croci, who drove in 3 runs in Monday's supersectional, has driven in a team-high 25 RBI. Three hitter Petrando leads with a .370 batting average and 2 homers.

Key pitchers: Kevin Peloza and Jack Spicer combine for 16 of the Grayslake Central's 26 victories. Peloza, who has a 0.65 ERA and 84 strikeouts, was masterful in a no-hitter against Nazareth in the supersectional, but to pitch this one he'd need to come back on three days rest. St. Francis has settled into a successful rhythm by using Jason Sullivan and Jack Petrando as postseason starters, with Andrew Brundage in relief. Sullivan, 8-1 with a 1.75 ERA, pitched 6 innings on Monday so, like with Peloza, that'd leave Petrando, 6-1 with a 1.83 ERA, as the freshest arm.

Advancement: Winner plays the winner of Joliet Catholic (23-14) vs. Mt. Vernon (31-8) at 11:30 a.m. Saturday for the Class 3A title. The loser plays for third place at 9 a.m. Saturday.

-- Kevin Schmit

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