St. Rita’s Mike Skoraczewski makes contact against Brother Rice during Tuesday’s Richards Regional quarterfinal game. (Gary Middendorf / Gary Middendorf/Daily Southtown)
St. Rita senior Mike Skoraczewski has had something to prove this summer.
After playing sparingly during the spring, the speedy second baseman is trying to make the most of his opportunities during the summer league.
He did that Tuesday against Brother Rice, going 3-for-3, with a run and an RBI to lead the Mustangs to a 3-1 victory in a Richards Regional quarterfinal of the Phil Lawler Summer Classic.
The Mustangs (9-3-1) advance to a 10 a.m. Wednesday semifinal against Bremen, an 11-0 winner over Montini. Mount Carmel vs. Homewood-Flossmoor will follow at 12:30 p.m., with the championship set for 3 p.m.
All games will be played at Richards.
"Everyone in here is getting a chance to show what they can do," Skoraczewski said. "It’s a good chance to show that I can play. I was just trying to help the team out, hitting-wise."
It wasn’t only Skoraczewski’s bat that made an impact against Brother Rice (8-6-1). He also did some damage with his legs, exhibiting an aggressive approach on the bases.
With the game tied 1-1 in the sixth inning, Skoraczewski raced from first to third base on David Gleaves’ bunt. Skoraczewski used a nifty slide to slip his hand on third base to avoid being tagged out.
He eventually scored the go-ahead run on an error that gave St. Rita a 2-1 lead.
"I hesitated a little and had a good slide to get in there," Skoraczewski said. "Thank God. I would have gotten yelled at if I didn’t."
Skoraczewski, batting ninth in the order, provided the Mustangs with some insurance in the seventh on an infield single that scored Noah Miller for a 3-1 advantage. Miller had doubled.
John Nee, in his first summer as St. Rita coach after taking over for the retired Mike Zunica, likes what Skoraczewski brings to the Mustangs’ lineup.
"He’s a scrapper," Nee said. "He’s a guy we think can help us in the spring. He has taken full advantage of his opportunities."
Another kid who took advantage was pitcher Matt Callahan. The junior right-hander allowed one run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He walked five and struck out two.
Callahan came through with big pitches in clutch situations, stranding 12 runners.
"I kept telling myself, take it one pitch at a time," Callahan said. "Let my infielders work for me."
He also credited Jake Zylman.
"His leadership," Callahan said of his catcher. "He’d come out (to the mound) to make sure everything was all right. He’s a great guy to have behind the plate."
St. Rita reliever Diego Koval earned the save, stranding two runners in the sixth and seventh innings.
Joe Payton (2-for-2, 2 walks) reached base four times for the Crusaders. Senior lefty Ryan Palmblad scattered seven hits and struck out four while going the distance.
"Ryan was fantastic and attacked the zone," Brother Rice coach John McCarthy said. "We came up short. We’ll come through next time."