Nazareth shuts out Sycamore to return to Class 3A title game

John Hughes pitched five innings and Jaden Fauske two as the Roadrunners won 3-0 at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

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Nazareth’s Finn O’Meara (32) helps John Hughes (22) celebrate after pitching out of an inning without giving up a run to Sycamore.

Nazareth’s Finn O’Meara (32) helps John Hughes (22) celebrate after pitching out of an inning without giving up a run to Sycamore.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Sycamore threatened defending Class 3A state champion Nazareth in the first inning Friday, but Roadrunners starting pitcher John Hughes survived unscathed.

Then the Spartans had runners on second and third with no outs in the third before Hughes retired Sycamore’s third, fourth and fifth hitters to end the threat.

‘‘I live for those moments,’’ Hughes said. ‘‘In those moments, you are either going to fold or have confidence in yourself. I’ve just got to keep trusting my stuff. That’s what I did, and it ended up working out. There were definitely some stressful situations, but I got out of it.’’

Hughes pitched five innings and Jaden Fauske the last two as Nazareth beat Sycamore 3-0 at Duly Health and Care Field in Joliet.

‘‘I think maybe I get locked in just a little bit more [in the tough situations] and have a little bit more confidence in my pitches,’’ Hughes said.

Freshman second baseman Landon Thome, former White Sox slugger Jim Thome’s son, had two hits and two RBI to lead the Roadrunners’ offense.

‘‘Being around the older guys has really helped me mature in my game,’’ Thome said. ‘‘It’s been a really good year for us, but the job is not finished. We have to win one tomorrow.’’

Nazareth (33-6) has won its first five playoff games by a combined score of 53-3. The Spartans (33-6) hit plenty of balls hard, but they were in the wrong spots.

‘‘It’s a game that could have gone either way,’’ Sycamore coach Jason Cavanaugh said. ‘‘We had chances to score. A base hit here or there, and it turns out to be a totally different game. We weren’t able to drive in runs when we should. I’m not convinced they are the best team, but they were today.’’

Hughes allowed four hits, walked one and struck out three. He has allowed only two earned runs in 34 innings this season.

‘‘Second and third, nobody out, that’s the guy we want on the mound,’’ Roadrunners coach Lee Milano said. ‘‘[Hughes] is battle-tested at the highest level.’’

Center fielder Lucas Smith had two hits and scored twice for Nazareth, and first baseman Nick Drtina added two hits and a RBI.

The Roadrunners’ opponent in the title game will be Grayslake Central, which beat Effingham 9-1 in the first semifinal.

‘‘The plan is just what it was last year,’’ Drtina said. ‘‘Stay in the moment and compete in every pitch and at-bat and just fight and fight.’’

Sycamore starter Jimmy Amptmann allowed two runs and five hits in the first three innings, and Tommy Townsend yielded one run and four hits in the last four. The Spartans will face Effingham in the third-place game Saturday.

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