The Steven Bajenski Memorial Tournament trophy is crossing the state line for the first time in its three-year existence.
Andrean put the finishing touches on an impressive four-game run of the tournament, knocking off defending Bajenski champion Joliet Catholic 8-3 Saturday in the title game at Standard Bank Stadium.
“One of my assistants said to me before the tournament, ‘Do you think we can win this?’” Andrean coach Dave Pishkur said. “I said, ‘I don’t think so.’ To go through the four teams we beat, our team played well.”
The 59ers defeated Brother Rice (4-0 final), Lemont (8-6) and Providence (10-0) before beating JCA.
Andrean (24-4) jumped on JCA (28-7) for six runs in the first inning, taking advantage of three walks by pitcher Kyle Polaski to the first five hitters.
A bases-loaded walk to Kevin McCune made it 1-0, followed by a two-run single by Frank Podkul and two-run double by David Cox that bounced down the right-field line for a 5-0 spread. Cox then stole third base and when the throw sailed into left field, he trotted home for a 6-0 edge.
“I was down 0-and-2 [in the count], waited and didn’t try to do too much with the pitch,” Podkul said. “We were just taking it one pitch at a time.”
The 59ers tacked on two more runs in the second after two outs. Matt DeSomer kept the inning alive with a double and scored on an error to make it 7-0. McCune then slapped a double to right that plated another run for an 8-0 advantage.
“We knew they were capable of putting up a big inning like we did,” Podkul said. “We knew the game wasn’t over.”
JCA had the makings of a productive inning in the fourth. Mitch Boe recorded the Hilltoppers’ first hit of the game, singling to center, and Aaron Markley walked. Pitcher Jimmy Skiff, however, was able to work out of the jam, registering a strikeout, fielder’s choice and flyout.
The Hilltoppers finally broke through in the fifth. Mike Quiram led off with a double and Zach Jackovich followed with a single to put runners on the corners with no outs.
JCA looked poised for a big inning until Skiff struck out the next two hitters. Boe, though, laced a two-run single to put JCA on the board and cut the deficit to 8-2.
The Hilltoppers managed to plate another run when Boe scored from third base on a wild pitch to fashion the final score.
Cullen Carey supplied Andrean with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
“They came out impressively,” JCA coach Jared Voss said. “They were fast on the bases and they took advantage of some things.”