Roger Simon had to wait an entire year to get some payback after being the losing pitcher in Loyola Academy’s slaughter-rule loss against Evanston in last year’s Class 4A regional tournament championship baseball game.
Thursday, Simon said no to the Wildkits.
The Rambler right-hander hurled a two-hit shutout, drove in a run, and even stole home on his way to a 5-0 elimination of the Wildkits at the Loyola Sectional semifinals.
Loyola, now 19-13, advanced to the title game Saturday against Glenbrook South. Evanston bowed out with a 21-10 record after only mustering singles by Alex Vasquez in the fourth inning and Brandon Brokowski in the seveneth.
Simon did require last-out relief help when Evanston loaded the bases via Brokowski’s hit, an error and a walk. Reliever Michael Southard induced Addison Blough to bounce out to second to end the game – and Evanston’s season.
If there is a high school baseball coach in the state of Illinois who already can’t wait till next year, it’s Evanston coach Frank Consiglio. The Wildkits will bring back almost their entire talented pitching staff and their only major hole to fill in the everyday lineup is at shortstop with the graduation of the gifted Vasquez.
That didn’t make it any easier for Consiglio to watch the 2022 campaign come to an end.
“That kid [Simon] just came out and dominated us. We didn’t do anything at the plate,” Consiglio said. “There’s nothing worse than when you don’t hit. It’s deflating, and it’s hard to get momentum when you just feel shut down. That’s a feeling that’s hard to get over.
“We just had nothing to get excited about [on offense]. We needed to put the pressure on them and compete, but we didn’t. We gave up the first run on a play that was inexcusable – a steal of home that has never happened before in my career – and I think they only had one hard-hit ball out of their six hits.
‘But we didn’t make adjustments at the plate, and that made the day easy for them.”
Simon did issue five walks while striking out eight, but until the seventh the Wildkits only had two of those runners advance as far as second base. And both times that happened with two outs.
ETHS pitcher Hank Liss, who no-hit the Ramblers in that regional showdown in 2021, didn’t allow a hit Thursday until the fifth. He still trailed 1-0 at that point.
Liss hit Simon with a pitch with one out in the Loyola half of the third. The Rambler senior stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch with two outs. Then, after a 2-1 pitch to Max Oliveira, Simon caught the Evanston battery napping, swiping home on catcher Brokowski’s toss back to Liss on the mound,
Loyola chased Liss in the fifth. Simon’s RBI single to left scored the second run and, after Liss intentionally walked Oliveira to load the bases, reliever Owen Brooks yielded a two-run single up the middle by cleanup hitter Haden Kriston that broke the game open.
“This was a fun team to be around and it’s never easy to say goodbye,” Consiglio added. “This abrupt ending means now I’m really going to miss these guys.”