Baseball: Nazareth knocks off Crystal Lake South in state semifinals

  • Crystal Lake South's Mark DeCicco fires a pitch Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game against Nazareth at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

    Crystal Lake South's Mark DeCicco fires a pitch Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game against Nazareth at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

  • Nazareth's Sebastian Gutierrez fires a pitch Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game against Crystal Lake South at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

    Nazareth's Sebastian Gutierrez fires a pitch Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game against Crystal Lake South at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

  • Nazareth's David Cox tries to turn a double play as Crystal Lake South's Dayton Murphy slides in hard to break it up Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

    Nazareth's David Cox tries to turn a double play as Crystal Lake South's Dayton Murphy slides in hard to break it up Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

  • Crystal Lake South's Dayton Murphy tries to turn a double play as Nazareth's Josiah (Luke) Brabham tries to break it up Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

    Crystal Lake South's Dayton Murphy tries to turn a double play as Nazareth's Josiah (Luke) Brabham tries to break it up Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

  • Nazareth's Jacob Castaneda slides in safely with a stolen base as Crystal Lake South's Dayton Murphy tries to corral the throw Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

    Nazareth's Jacob Castaneda slides in safely with a stolen base as Crystal Lake South's Dayton Murphy tries to corral the throw Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

  • Crystal Lake South's Mark DeCicco throws to first Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game against Nazareth at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

    Crystal Lake South's Mark DeCicco throws to first Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game against Nazareth at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

  • Crystal Lake South's Dayton Murphy throws to first Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game against Nazareth at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

    Crystal Lake South's Dayton Murphy throws to first Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game against Nazareth at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

  • Crystal Lake South's Ysen Useni heads to third with a triple Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game against Nazareth at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

    Crystal Lake South's Ysen Useni heads to third with a triple Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game against Nazareth at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

  • Crystal Lake South's Joey Weldon catches a fly ball Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game against Nazareth at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

    Crystal Lake South's Joey Weldon catches a fly ball Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game against Nazareth at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

  • The Nazareth bench starts to celebrate in the last inning of their 16-3 win over Crystal Lake South Friday, June 10, 2022, in the IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

    The Nazareth bench starts to celebrate in the last inning of their 16-3 win over Crystal Lake South Friday, June 10, 2022, in the IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

  • Crystal Lake South players leave the field after their loss to Nazareth Friday, June 10, 2022, in the IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

    Crystal Lake South players leave the field after their loss to Nazareth Friday, June 10, 2022, in the IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet. Mark Busch/mbusch@shawmedia.com

 
 
Updated 6/10/2022 8:48 PM

Nazareth is no stranger to the Class 3A state tournament semifinals, with five appearances since 2011.

The Roadrunners just haven't been able to get over the hump and win the big one.

 

Nazareth will get that chance after outpitching and outslugging Crystal Lake South, 16-3, Friday at Joliet's Duly Health & Care Field.

The Roadrunners (33-7) poured on 14 hits, and senior pitcher Sebastian Gutierrez went the distance to set up a state championship game against Glenwood (27-6) -- a 2-1 winner over Washington in the first semifinal -- at approximately 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

South (19-14), which had allowed only 10 runs in five postseason games, will meet Washington (34-6) for third place at 9 a.m.

The Roadrunners' previous four state appearances have resulted in fourth place (2011), third (2012), second (2015) and third (2018). Coach Lee Milano, now in his 23rd year, said his team will not approach its final game of its season any differently.

"It's just another game," Milano said. "That's our approach. We never play our opponent, we play the game of baseball. Our goal on offense is to score one run an inning, and our goal on defense is to avoid the big inning. That's given us a chance to win every game this year but two."

South, unlike Nazareth, was unable to avoid the big inning Friday, with the Roadrunners plating six runs against Gators starting pitcher Mark DeCicco in the top of the third. Four of the runs scored with two outs.

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After DeCicco struck out Cole Reifsteck to start the inning, Lucas Smith reached on a hit-by-pitch and Cooper Malamazian on a walk. The next batter, Luke Brabham, then hit a solid base hit to center to score Smith. A fielder's choice off the bat of Nick Drtina scored Malamazian, and the next four batters all came through with hits.

Nazareth's David Cox scores a run as Crystal Lake South's Kyle Kuffel waits for the throw Friday, June 10, 2022, during their IHSA Class 3A state semifinal game at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

Freshman Jaden Fauske, a Louisville commit, hit a two-run double down the left-field line to score Drtina and David Cox. Sam Wampler followed with a bloop hit to center field to bring in Fauske. Luca Fiore then snuck in a double just out of the reach of a diving Joey McEnery in right field for another run and an 8-0 lead.

Cox, who finished 3 for 4 with a double and three runs scored, said the Roadrunners caught on to some of DeCicco's tendencies early that allowed them to jump on the Gators starter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I noticed our first couple of batters, they went first-pitch off-speed," Cox said. "Nick [Drtina] got his hit, I saw a grip, and I knew a fastball was coming, and I just caught it out in front."

The Gators made five errors, including two errors on pickoffs. A potential double play was also was botched.

"They made some adjustments, we didn't help ourselves either," South coach Brian Bogda said. "Nazareth's a real good offensive team and took advantage of some mistakes that we made. These guys would say it was one of our worst games of the year. [Nazareth] put the pressure on us and we gave them some runs. Kudos to them for taking advantage of it. That's why they won the game."

South got all three of its runs in the bottom of the fourth after loading the bases with two outs. DeCicco smacked a two-out triple to left field, followed by back-to-back walks by Chris Kahnle and Joey Weldon.

No. 9 hitter Ysen Useni came up and smacked a three-run triple past Fiore at first base and down the right-field line, scoring all three runners and cutting Nazareth's lead to 10-3.

"It was good, it kind of help jump-start the offense," DeCicco said of his triple to start the fourth. "We're a really good, two-out hitting team, and I feel like that's when we have our best scores and bats on balls."

Any momentum for the Gators was short-lived. Nazareth scored one run in the fifth, one in the sixth and four in the seventh.

Brabham was 2 for 5 with four RBIs, Fauske knocked in four runs, and Malamazian and Wampler (2 for 3) both added two RBIs. Gutierrez allowed three runs on two hits in the complete game with seven strikeouts and five walks.

For the Gators, DeCicco gave up eight runs (six earned) on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings with two strikeouts and one walk. Ryan Skwarek allowed eight runs (six earned) on six hits in three innings, and Aidan Stratton tossed a scoreless inning of relief.

South sophomore shortstop Dayton Murphy still was able to appreciate the big stage despite the lopsided result.

"We were the underdogs the entire time," Murphy said. "You just have to enjoy each and every moment. It doesn't happen to every team, not every kid gets this moment. We still have a lot to accomplish. We can't hang our heads, we have to get the next one."

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