NAPERVILLE – Sometimes you just run into a hot pitcher.
Nazareth baseball failed in its bid to make a third straight trip to state after getting no-hit by Grayslake Central’s Kevin Peloza on Monday.
The Rams won, 4-0, to claim the Class 3A North Central College supersectional and avenge last year’s loss to the Roadrunners in the same game.
Peloza had four walks and hit a batter, but was able to get out of early jams and retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced. Nazareth had the first two batters reach in the second inning and left the bases loaded in the third.
“He was tough, but we did hit some balls on the nose,” Nazareth assistant coach John Sime said. “We left a lot of people on base.
“I’m extremely surprised that we got no-hit because we hit all year long. We can’t remember if our program has ever been no-hit before.”
The Rams scored in the second inning on an unearned run and added three in the bottom of the sixth off the Nazareth bullpen.
Games like Monday’s show how difficult it can be to have sustained success in the baseball playoffs. Nazareth won its fifth sectional title in a row Saturday, which is the longest active streak in the state. Only Teutopolis, which has won four straight Class 2A sectionals, also has won sectionals in the past three years.
“I just think it is a huge credit to our coaching staff,” junior Jake Bartels said. “We have phenomenal coaches. They really push us hard. Our offseason workouts really push us. I think the big thing is we really come together as a family. Nobody plays for the name on the back of the jersey; we play for the name on the front. Everybody just wants to keep that tradition going.”
Nazareth finishes its season at 27-12-1 and will lose eight seniors, including two-time all-conference catcher Mike Stromberg.
“I think one of the good things is we had some rough patches over the year and at the end there we really came together and definitely finished as a family,” Stromberg said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to play my four years anywhere else. The easiest way to put it is it’s been a blessing.”
Four other seniors started – Patrick Houlihan, Mike Noesen, Kyle Piotrowski and Carl Jackson. Closer Dan Kienzle, Chaz Usher and Mike Robinson also graduate.