With many of the state’s top players busy playing with their travel teams as the high school summer regionals got underway, other kids are given the opportunity to step up for their team.
Take for example St. Viator pitcher Aaron Tres. Lions coach Mike Manno said that Tres falls in the fourth or fifth starter range for his team. But with the compressed schedule of the Phil Lawler Summer Classic, injuries and travel ball, Tres was needed for Wednesday’s Lake Park regional semifinal against the host Lancers.
And Tres delivered.
He tossed a complete game shutout, needing only 72 pitches, to lead St. Viator to an 8-0 win. The Lions will face Prospect, a 10-8 winner over Jacobs Wednesday, in the regional title game Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
“That means a lot because I always want to be one of the top guys to help my team,” Tres said. “It’s a great feeling. I was just locating my fastball to start off and get ahead. Then I was able to throw my curveball. It was effective today.”
Tres scattered four hits, walked one and struck out four in his shutout.
His offense took care of the rest. The Lions (15-16) were already up 2-0 by the top of the fifth, but they exploded for five runs to put the game away. Matt Darling, Mike Ragauskis, Connor Phelan and Matt Levin each had RBIs in the big five-run rally.
“We’ve kind of done that this summer,” Manno said. “We’ve had some big innings that put some teams away. Our kids have a great approach at the plate, staying a little bit more disciplined. When you’re in good counts, you should be able to hit.”
Lake Park (15-10) just ran into a buzz saw Wednesday, which coach Dan Colucci acknowledged.
“They played a great game today,” Colucci said. “They were the better team today. You’ve got to hand it to them. They’re well-coached, great athletes. But we’re excited about what we have coming back. I like the direction that we’re going.”
St. Viator had played a split squad all summer, finally coming together to play its top players in the playoffs. The result has them readying to play some familiar faces from Prospect Thursday for the right to make it to next week’s state tournament.
“Being split up, you could tell that there were kids that were performing well,” Tres said. “Coming together, we knew we were better than our record.”