Joliet Catholic senior Nick Dalesandro was forced to sit on the bench and watch the Hilltoppers lose the WJOL/Don Ladas Tournament title game to arch rival Providence earlier this month.
“It was a big thing on my mind,” said Dalesandro. “I wasn’t able to play in the last game (against Providence) because I got ejected in the game before it over a controversial call. I wanted to beat these guys. They are a great team.”
Dalesandro wasted absolutely no time extracting his revenge Tuesday at Joliet Catholic, drilling a massive home run deep over the right field fence in the first inning. There was a strong wind to right throughout the Hilltoppers’ 12-5 win over Providence, but Dalesandro’s blast didn’t need any help.
“Yesterday we played in the same conditions and I was thinking pull pull pull,” said Dalesandro. “I kind of just took the ball where it was pitched today. I played the elements to the best of my ability.”
Dalesandro, a Purdue recruit, is one of the state’s top players. He’s ranked third in the state’s senior class and 42nd in the country by Prep Baseball Report. All that promise was on full display Tuesday. He finished 3-for-5 with three runs and five RBI. He doubled in the second inning and hit the center field wall on a long double in the third inning.
Joliet Catholic sophomore KC Simonich is as highly-regarded as Dalesandro. He’s ranked eighth in the state and 54th in the nation. Simonich followed Dalesandro’s first inning blast with one of his own, also to right field.
The strong wind was a nightmare for Providence starting pitcher Conor Hilty. The junior right-hander allowed six runs on seven hits in two innings.
It’s a great feeling walking into batting practice (with the wind blowing out),” said Simonich. “You still want to try and stick it up the middle but it gives you confidence.”
Simonich was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBI.
“Those guys have been good all year but it was definitely a good hitters day today, that’s for sure,” said Joliet Catholic coach Jared Voss.
The Hilltoppers (13-2) led 11-0 after three innings. Joliet Catholic starting pitcher Danny Belling was lifted after three innings. He allowed three hits, struck out three and walked one. Reliever Jared Jones was roughed up for five runs. He faced just six batters.
Hilltoppers senior Mike Quiram was brilliant over the final four innings to earn the win. He didn’t allow a hit, struck out five and walked one.
“My main goal was just to get out there and throw strikes,” said Quiram. “We had a lot of walks to start off that inning and I came in and my pitches were working good in the wind for some reason. Usually that doesn’t help it but today it did.”
Quiram was roughed up by the Celtics in the first matchup this season.
“Both of us are in our conference play now so we are saving our top pitching for conference games, so guys have to step up in these non-conference ones and Mike did a great job doing that,” said Voss.
Junior Mike Madej went 2-for-3 for Providence (13-3) and junior Tom Kelley was 1-for-3 with a run scored and two RBI.