Risky double steal sends Marian Catholic to Class 3A title game

Marian Catholic was running at will on Champaign Central on Friday in the Class 3A state semifinals at Silver Cross Field in Joliet. The Spartans had four stolen bases in the first six innings of the game.

So with everything on the line, Marian Catholic coach Tony DeCarlo rolled the dice and called a double steal with runners on first and second and the game tied in the top of the seventh.

“If we get thrown out at third everyone is thinking what are you doing,” DeCarlo said. “But we had been running all day. [If Beal was thrown out at third] We’d have Mark [DiLuia] at the plate with one out at the very least we would have a runner in scoring position with two outs. We had confidence Christian was going to get there.”

Beal slipped as he took off for third and would have been dead to rights, but the throw flew into the outfield and he made it to third safely. Then DeCarlo rolled the dice again.

“I was hesitant to even send him home,” DeCarlo. “I guess it was just what my gut said.”

Beal was beat by the throw to the plate, but it bounced away and he scored to give Marian Catholic a 4-3 win over Champaign Central.

“Throughout the journey this season [DeCarlo] has told us to have confidence in ourselves,” Beal said. “He believed in us 100 percent, even when we had that rough patch in May. He believed in us more than we believed in ourselves and kept reminding us that we were the best team in the state. It’s a testament to the coach he is and the man he is.”

Beal, a Miami (Ohio) recruit, was 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI.

Senior Mark DiLuia pitched a complete game to get the victory. He struck out eight, walked two and allowed six hits.

“After the second inning I was in a groove,” DiLuia said. “I got through innings pretty fast. In the fourth inning they got that bloop single and it started things for them to scratch across that run. I knew it was going to be a ballgame there. Three runs weren’t going to win it.”

The Spartans could have won the game in the top of the seventh, but a misplayed ball in the outfield extended things by one batter.

“The pitch limit was coming up, I knew that was my last batter and I could empty the tank,” DiLuia said. “I had to calm down and get that one out. I made a good pitch to get strike three.”

Marian Catholic (24-15) will play the Marmion-St. Viator winner in the Class 3A title game on Saturday.

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