Shamrocks suffer heartbreaking loss to end season
The below story was written by recent graduate, former Shamrock baseball player and aspiring sports broadcaster, Anthony Pasquale ’18.
In an effort to survive and advance, the Shamrocks fell in heartbreaking fashion to Montini Catholic 7-3 at Kerry Wood Cubs Field Wednesday night.
When Michael Crawford ’19 came streaking down the third base line to score the go ahead run in the bottom of the sixth, it looked as if the Shamrocks were bound to redeem last year’s squad and advance to the Sectional Championship for the first time since 2006.
But that was just not the way it played out for these Shamrocks.
Perfectly placed ground balls by the Montini hitters and superb evasion of jams by Montini pitchers made it extremely difficult for the Shamrocks to win.
A run scored on an error early to put Montini on the board.
“Don’t fall in the trap now!”
After hearing these words from Coach Dan Kusinski ’75, junior Michael Hegarty hit an opposite field single and senior Luca Paolucci drew a walk.
Then a bloop double down the left field line from Crawford tied the game at one in the fourth.
The fifth was a challenge for the Shamrocks. After issuing a leadoff walk, a bunt single and another walk, Luke Hillmann ’20 athletically grabbed a grounder and threw home to get out number one. Hillmann struck out the next batter, but the third strike trickled away from Nicholai Burmeo ’20 behind the plate, and run number two for the Broncos scored.
A leadoff double from senior Sam Correa followed by Burmeo reaching on an error set the table for the Shamrocks in the fifth. Ryan Beer ’19 missed a go-ahead home run by a few inches, and Montini was able to battle out of the jam … again
Hillmann battled on the mound for the Shamrocks. He gave up one earned run across five plus innings of work, and left the game trailing 2-1.
Tyler Ferraro ’20 was next up on the mound for Saint Patrick, and retired three straight batters in the top of the sixth.
Paolucci and Crawford reached in the bottom of the sixth, and Regional Championship hero AJ Fitzpatrick ’20 did it with the bat again, but this time by virtue of a squeeze bunt that scored Paolucci and tied the game. Crawford then scored on a swinging strike that got away from Motini’s catcher, and the Shamrocks bench exploded with excitement.
Unfortunately, it did not last.
The seventh was no easy task for Ferraro and the Shamrocks. A ground ball turned double down the line followed by a walk with no outs put the Shamrocks in a jam. Ferraro was taken out after giving up a single that scored a run.
A carousel of pitchers followed Ferraro, and the Shamrocks surrendered a five spot in the seventh.
Down 7-3, the Shamrocks had their work cut out for them in the bottom of the seventh, to keep their season alive.
And they battled, just as they have all season long.
But Montini did what they did all game long, and fought out of a jam.
Montini advances to take on Ridgewood in the Saint Patrick Sectional Championship, the same team that ended the careers of Tommy Busam, Bobby Fiorante, Marty McGovern, myself and my brother, Michael Pasquale, a year ago.
Congratulations to all the seniors who played their last game in green and gold: Ryan Beer, Sam Correa, Michael Crawford, Nick Gremo, Jamil Huertas, Anthony Manaves, Sean Mullaney, Luis Neris, Ryan O’Connor, Luca Paolucci, Michael Serwa and Adrian Zietara on great careers with Saint Patrick that concluded with back-to-back regional titles.
This perhaps could’ve been the last game the Shamrocks will ever play at Kerry Wood Cubs Field, and they fought hard.
The Shamrocks will return nearly all of their pitching next season, and valuable offensive pieces in Fitzpatrick and Burmeo to name a couple, and this team is primed to continue its recent post season success.
Anthony Pasquale ‘18 is a Sophomore and Evans Scholar at the University of Illinois, majoring in Journalism. He is currently broadcasting with the Big Ten Network and writing with The Champaign Room and Cubs Analyst.