JOLIET – One big inning.
That’s all Joliet Catholic starting pitcher Nick Dalesandro needed to carry the Hilltoppers to a state title and end the dreams of St. Francis.
Dalesandro pitched a complete game shutout to knock off St. Francis in the Class 3A state final at Silver Cross Field in Joliet. The Spartans lost 5-0 despite outhitting JCA 7-4.
Francis (25-12) left 10 runners on base and didn’t take advantage of early opportunities. Senior catcher Brett Jungles doubled in each of his first two at-bats, including a leadoff double in the fourth inning, but was left stranded both times.
“I thought I stepped up pretty big with two doubles in the first four innings, but it’s a team game,” Jungles said. “When you strand runners someone has to just step up in the moment. We needed someone to step up big and we just couldn’t find that player today.”
The Hilltoppers (25-14) broke the game open in the bottom of the fourth with a five-run inning fueled by two errors and three hits. Francis sophomore starter Jason Sullivan limited JCA other than that inning and gave up just four hits in a complete game.
Despite the loss, Francis still got its hands on the first trophy in the program’s history.
“It’s a really special time for all of us,” said St. Francis senior Alex Alcantara. “If you would have told us the first day of practice we’re going to finish second in state I know most of us would have said no way. A lot of people counted us out so it was good to show a lot of people wrong.”