Sat May 19, 2012
By Drake Skleba
JOLIET- The final score was an afterthought in a championship semifinal between No. 3 St. Laurence and No. 22 St. Rita, in the Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament at Silver Cross Field in Joliet on Friday night.
“Do it Stevie's Way” is the slogan for the tournament that honors the memory of the late Stevie Bajenski (1992-2009). Stevie was a student and a hard-nosed varsity baseball player at Mount Carmel High School of Chicago. Stevie passed away on August 10, 2009 due to complications from heart surgery.
Having heart problems his entire life, Bajenski out-worked, out-hustled and “Did it Stevie's Way” to become a valuable member of the 2009 Caravan varsity baseball team.
In an exhibition of how not to “Do it Stevie's Way,” St. Laurence and St. Rita put on a ugly display in the bottom of the seventh inning of their semifinal game.
St. Rita had wiped out a 5-1 St. Laurence lead, scoring three runs in sixth and two more in the top of the seventh, to take a 6-5 lead as the game went to the bottom half of the seventh.
With one out, St. Laurence junior DH Zach Lewis popped up to St. Rita senior first baseman Rick Faron. Seconds after Faron caught the pop up for the second out of the inning, Lewis with elbows raised, crashed into Faron. Faron, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, retaliated at Lewis' clear attempt to hurt him.
Faron, a 6-foot, 225-pound All-State defenseman for the State Champion St. Rita hockey team, swung and connected with Lewis' jaw. Both team's benches poured on the field, and for 10 minutes, players and coaches from both squads rumbled at home plate. Every individual on each team's roster were involved in the melee.
In one of the most disgusting scenes this reporter has ever covered, what I witnessed on the field made me absolutely sick.
After 10 minutes the umpires restored order and met with St. Rita head coach Mike Zunica and St. Laurence head coach Pete Lotus, at home plate. The conversation lasted another 10 minutes as the bantering between the coaches continued.
Finally, the game continued and St. Rita's sophomore closer Jake Shepki (4-1) retired St. Laurence senior Mike Solofra to mercifully put an end to this total embarrassment for everyone involved with a 6-5 Rita victory
With the 6-5 St. Rita (21-11) come-from-behind win, the Mustangs will meet Stevie's team, the Mount Carmel Caravan (29-6) in the Tournament Championship Game Saturday at 7 at Standard Bank Stadium.
Watch the game LIVE at www.prepbaseballreport.highschoolcube.com.
No.6 Mount Carmel, behind Caravan sophomore Austin Dotsen, knocked-off No. 1 Providence Catholic 4-1 in the other semifinal played at Benedictine University in Lisle.
No. 1 Providence (26-7) will meet No. 3 St. Laurence (28-5-1) for third place at 4 on Saturday at Standard Bank Stadium.
New Trier (20-9) defeated Marian Catholic 7-2 at Benedictine and will face Oak Park (24-8-1) for fifth place Saturday at 1 at Standard Bank. Oak Park beat Oak Lawn 8-7 in eight innings at Silver Cross.
Oak Lawn (20-13) will play Marian Catholic (17-15) for seventh place on Saturday at 10 at Standard Bank.
The seventh and fifth place games can be seen LIVE at www.highschoolcube.com.