Tina Akouris’ baseball notebook

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Joliet Catholic used its speed and a healthy dose of small ball to wrap up the Class 3A state baseball championship with a 5-0 victory over St. Francis Saturday at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.

Hilltoppers coach Jared Voss won the second state championship of his career at the school. He said it’s a no-brainer why his players are fast and why they rely more on small ball than the long one.

“We feel with the schedule we play, we have to play fast,” Voss said. “Our area, the Joliet area, is spectacular in baseball and our kids know they have to (be quick and play small ball) if we are going to compete.”

The Hilltoppers’ 25-14 record included a 5-4 mark against area schools. They were 2-0 vs. Lemont, 1-1 vs. Providence, 1-0 vs. Plainfield Central, 1-0 vs. Plainfield East, 0-1 vs. Joliet West and 0-2 vs. Minooka.

It’s just a number

When Marian Catholic won the 3A title last year with a 25-17 record, the Spartans broke the previous record for most losses by a championship team. The mark previously was held by coach Jaime Garcia’s 1982 Providence team, which finished 42-16 and won the Class A title.

On to Omaha

Two former Herald-News Players of the Year are going to Omaha, Neb. for the College World Series, and their two teams will oppose each other when play begins Saturday.

Sophomore first baseman Sam Travis of Indiana, formerly of Providence and the 2011 POY, hit a tiebreaking two-run home run in the fifth inning Sunday as Indiana (48-14) beat Florida State to complete a two-game sweep in their super-regional.

Travis helped the Hoosiers become the first Big Ten team to make the CWS since Michigan in 1984. 

And former Joliet Catholic star Nick Ratajczak is a key component in the lineup for Louisville (51-12), which stunned highly regarded Vanderbilt 2-1 to clinch that super regional in two games.

Ratajczak, who won his POY award in 2009, is hitting .285 with six doubles, three triples, two homers and 34 RBI. He has a .392 on-base percentage.

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