Good pitching and defense is a recipe for success on the baseball diamond.
Brother Rice flashed both on Saturday against De La Salle.
Brian Musielak kept Meteor hitters off balance and received a strong effort by his defense as Brother Rice downed visiting De La Salle 4-0 in a Catholic League crossover contest.
“The defense kept me in the game,” Musielak noted. “We would have been down without the defense.”
Musielak wasn’t overpowering, but effectively mixed pitches and location to keep the Meteors off balance.
“Brian was changing speeds, mixing location and pitched his tail off,” Brother Rice coach Johnny McCarthy said. “The guys made some nice plays behind him.”
Shortstop Kevin Sullivan and center fielder Erich Lieser robbed De La Salle’s first two batters of the game —Tom Duddleston and Jalen Davis — with great plays. Catcher Kyle Hilliard also threw out a runner attempting to steal second base.
But it was left fielder Andrew Dyke who made the play of the game.
De La Salle (6-5, 3-3) trailed 1-0 when it loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth. Davis and Joe Gazzi (3-for-4) singled and Trevino Rodriguez walked, bringing Nick Pettigrew to the plate. Pettigrew was 2-for-2 at that point and looked like he was going to be 3-for-3 when he lashed a shot into the left-center field gap that likely would have cleared the bases.
However, Dyke raced to his left and made a magnificent diving catch to preserve the lead. It was that type of day for the Meteors, who recorded nine hits and stranded 10 runners. Glenn Kubek had two hits for De La Salle.
“That was the turning point of the game,” said De La Salle coach Mark Higgins, a 2002 Brother Rice graduate. “I didn’t think there was any way he was going to make that play.”
The Crusaders (15-3, 4-0) scored three runs in the sixth to put the game away. Lieser, who drove in Rice’s first run on a single in the fourth, ripped an RBI double that plated Kevin Biondic (single) for a 2-0 advantage. Mike Schalasky added a run-scoring single and Sullivan walked with the bases loaded for a 4-0 spread.
“Brian Musielak was really good for us,” said Lieser, an Oak Forest resident.
Alex Padilla, working on three days rest, took the loss for the Meteors.
Musielak finished the game strong. The last four outs he recorded were all strikeouts, including the side in the seventh.
“It’s cool to strike out the side in the seventh,” Musielak said. “I felt good the whole game.”