JOLIET | Mitch Weissenhofer had the best view of Brett Lilek's bravura performance for Marian Catholic on Friday afternoon.
Weissenhofer caught Lilek's 11-strikeout showcase, one in which he threw 43 strikes and allowed only three balls to be hit out of the infield, two of them Nazareth Academy's only hits in Marian's 3-0 Class 3A state semifinal victory.
The stellar showing came on top of Lilek's 15-strikeout gem in the Spartans' sectional final romp over Lincoln-Way West.
It was nothing new to Weissenhofer.
"He just stays consistent," Weissenhofer said. "It's always as good as he is. He had the same stuff in the sectional final, but this was a better team than Lincoln-Way West."
Lilek, bound for Arizona State, pitched a game that the Sun Devils would have accepted. He was dominant throughout, with eight strikeouts in the first four innings – four of them called third strikes – and, aside from hitting Tim Getty, struck out the side to finish Nazareth off in the seventh.
The 11 strikeouts tied the Class 3A record for a state tournament game, matching Jake Odorizzi's effort for Highland against Crystal Lake Central in a 2008 semifinal.
Lilek, who missed five weeks during the season with tendinitis – hence his 7-4 record – was never ruffled. Instead, he flummoxed the Roadrunners.
"He was really keeping us off balance as hitters," said Nazareth pitcher Jake Bartels, who struck out twice and grounded to short. "He was tough to pick up on. On a few pitches, he was really bringing it, but the real game-changer for him was how he was able to spot the ball.
"He was moving the ball in and out, up, down. He wasn't throwing anything over the middle of the plate."
The only hits were by Kyle Piotrowski, a sharp single to center to lead off the game, and by Marc Perrone with one out in the third. Neither advanced. In fact, nobody got past second base, not with Lilek throwing strikes that reached 89 mph – the number matches his strikeouts for the season. And most of those pitches nibbled at corners.
"We start off with a fastball inside, and from then on, we just go," Weissenhofer said. "We go offspeed and keep mixing it up, going inside-outside.
"It was just amazing. I'm sure he had some nerves. All of us had nerves, but Brett just puts that aside and focuses on what he really wants."
Pacific 12 opponents of Arizona State have been warned.