Photo by Jeff Vorva
Brother Rice first baseman Ryan Kutt hustled but could not catch a foul popup in Monday’s loss to Plainfield South.
Brother Rice had one of the best baseball teams in the state and nation this spring and came up short in the Illinois High School Association state tournament by falling in the sectionals.
The Crusaders were hoping for some kind of state championship hardware to show for it. While the Lawler Summer Classic State Tournament technically is more of a Chicago-area event rather than an all-out state event, they were gunning for the title but fell short in a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Plainfield South in a game that started on Thursday and ended on Monday night at Boomers Stadium in Schaumburg. The game was postponed in the bottom of the third after lighting was spotted and storms hit the area.
Brother Rice’s Ryan Kutt, who drove in a run in the first and another in the fifth, threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh and Plainfield celebrated.
“As a pitcher, you have to bear down,” the Illinois-bound Kutt said. “Sometimes it’s not going to go your way and this was one of those days. It took a wrong bounce. That’s just baseball.’’
Kutt and teammates Jake Ridgway, Jack Guzek and Ryan Palmblad were named to the All-Tournament team.
Despite the disappointing finish, the game produced an unusual and dramatic moment for Zach Litke.
In the bottom of the third, the Cougars scored a run and had the bases loaded with one out and the Crusaders made a pitching change when lightning was spotted northwest of the park. Litke was introduced as the pitcher so he said he came into Monday’s game figuring he was going to throw a pitchout for his required pitch before the Crusaders brought in the more experienced Kutt in.
But Crusaders coach John McCarthy informed Oak Lawn’s Litke he would pitch to the first batter – Marco Escobar – and Litke responded by coaxing Escobar to hit into a double play.
“He showed us he’s got the guts to get the job done,” Kutt said.
“I was definitely excited to get that chance – but I knew it was going to be tough,” Litke said. “The bases were loaded. I had to do something. I knew I had to keep it low.’’
The climb to the championship game was not easy.
The Crusaders lost their quarterfinal game on July 18, 4-0, to St. Charles North at Naperville Central in a game that was postponed four hours and changed venues after North Central College was deemed unplayable because of a previous night’s storm. But that portion of the tournament was double-elimination so they stayed alive.
The next day, they needed to win two games to stay alive and the Crusaders had their aces on the mound. Kutt threw a shutout in an 8-0 victory over Lyons Township and Guzek also recorded a shutout in a 4-0 revenge victory over St. Charles North at Benedictine University.
That set up a semifinal battle with Huntley at Boomers Stadium and it was pitcher Palmblad’s turn to put zeros on the board as he shut the Red Raiders out in a 3-0 victory.
To get to the final eight, the Crusaders won the Richards Regional with an 8-0 victory over Chicago Christian, a 12-3 win over St. Laurence and an 8-5 championship win over Marist.