Prep Baseball Report

PBR Fall Championship: Cangelosi Sparks take down CSA in upperclass title game

By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer

Two Illinois teams – two teams with some of the most Division-I-bound talent at PBR Fall Championship – met in the title game in the upperclass bracket on Sunday afternoon. It was the Cangelosi Sparks taking on the Chicago Scouts Association in what began as a back-and-forth brawl.

LHP Cole Kirschsieper (Lincoln-Way East, 2019; Illinois commit) set down CSA in order in the top of the first inning, handing it over to his offense who struck first. CSA starter RHP Jack Sauser (Normal University, 2019; Northwestern) hit 1B Justin Janas (Marist, 2019; Illinois), who came around to score all the way from first on a timely two-out triple from Dylan Post (Lincoln-Way Central, 2019; Houston). Post himself scored in the very next at-bat on a double off the bat of OF Alex Helmin (Providence Catholic, 2019; Arizona State).

However, the Sparks’ 2-0 lead disappeared as quickly as it arrived.

Almost immediately, OF Kendal Ewell (Marist, 2020; Eastern Kentucky), who has been red-hot at the plate all weekend, launched a home run over the center field fence to cut CSA’s deficit in half. Later in the inning, Mike Bolton (Brother Rice, 2019; Purdue) was hit by a pitch and used his premium speed to bolt around the basepaths to score the tying run on Ed Howard IV’s (Mount Carmel, 2020; Oklahoma commit) double.

The tie game didn’t last long, though. The Sparks countered in the bottom of the second, capitalizing on a couple rare defensive misplays for CSA, leading to a three-run inning. Post, again, chipped in, this time with an inside-out single into shallow left that scored Sparks’ fifth run.

CSA was held at bay for the next couple of frames and seriously threatened to get right back in the ballgame with the bases loaded and just one away. Howard barreled a fly ball to deep right, toward OF Austin Greco (Mundelein, 2020; uncommitted) who chased it down, limiting CSA to just a run on the sacrifice fly. Kirschsieper managed to dodge further damage with a strikeout to keep Sparks’ lead intact, 5-3.

The fifth frame was quiet until Helmin boomed another baseball, this time one that carried over the left field fence. The two-run shot padded Sparks’ lead, making it 7-3. Momentum had swayed the Sparks’ way in the previous half inning when INF/OF/RHP Jack Brannigan (Marist, 2019; Notre Dame) set CSA down in order with a fastball that clocked 94 mph multiple times, notching a couple Ks in the process, too.

Back-to-back walks to start the top of the seventh had CSA rallying against Brannigan, including a deep sacrifice fly to the left field warning track, again off the bat of Howard. But Brannigan cleaned things up from there and a great back-handed pick at shortstop by Christian Knapczyk (Joliet Catholic, 2020; Louisville) and strong arm across the infield ended the game, 7-3.

The Cangelosi Sparks will head back to Illinois as upperclass champions of the second annual PBR Fall Championship tournament.