Daily Southtown

ANGELO’S AWARDS

Marian Catholic’s Cantelo piles up MVP recognitio­n in summer action

- Pat Disabato

As soon as his 33-inch, 30ounce DeMarini Voodoo bat made contact with the baseball, Angelo Cantelo knew he would be circling the bases uninterrup­ted.

Not even the University of Minnesota’s spacious Siebert Field could prevent Cantelo’s massive home run from stretching beyond the wall in left field that’s 330 feet from the plate.

To apply a little icing on the cake, the right-handed Cantelo added a big-league bat flip while exiting the batter’s box.

“That’s the farthest ball I’ve ever hit in my life,” Cantelo said. “As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going to go a long way.”

It’s been quite a summer for the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Cantelo, a senior catcher/first baseman for Marian Catholic.

On July 29, Cantelo was named MVP of the Double Duty Classic after delivering three hits — including two doubles — to help his East team rally from a 7-1 deficit for an 11-10 win over the West at Guaranteed Rate Field.

That proved to be the appetizer to the main course.

Cantelo earned MVP honors last week at the 2018 Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities World Series. His mammoth homer Friday in the Senior Division championsh­ip game helped Chicago White Sox RBI rally from a 4-0 deficit to stun Arizona RBI 7-4.

The White Sox went 5-1 to earn the title.

To be a champion, one must possess a relentless pursuit of victory. Cantelo never doubted his team would turn the tide against Arizona.

“We had a good feeling we were going to come back,” Cantelo said. “Once we got to a second time around the batting order, we had a better approach at the plate.”

Cantelo hit a homer in the first game of the tournament Aug. 6 at

Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins. That drive landed a few rows beyond the sign 377 feet away in left-center field.

So how did it feel to hit a homer in a major league stadium?

“It was crazy,” Cantelo said. “I hit the ball and looked up, and it kept going. It got up a couple of rows over the wall. I got lucky.”

There’s nothing lucky about the way Cantelo performed during the summer.

It’s carried over from an impressive spring season the Blue Island native had for Marian Catholic. He hit .407 with nine doubles, three homers and 24 RBIs while catching all 36 games, totaling 249 consecutiv­e innings. That’s what I call a workhorse.

Cantelo’s motto? The more baseball, the better.

“I just enjoy playing the game,” he said. “I love it. I never thought about winning MVPs. I just want the team to do well. I’m willing to do whatever I can to help my team win games.”

On two occasions while he was playing with Marian Catholic, I saw him from his knees throw out runners trying to steal second base. Neither throw was higher than 4 feet off the ground, and both were right on the money.

Colleges are beginning to take notice. Cantelo was offered a scholarshi­p recently by Lewis. He visited Eastern Kentucky on Tuesday. He already took a trip with his mother, Janet, a Northweste­rn graduate, to Princeton and Columbia.

When you score a 28 on the ACT, have a 3.9 grade-point average and can hit a ball a country mile, it opens up doors.

Marian Catholic coach Tony DeCarlo was at a loss to explain why Division I colleges were slow on recruiting Cantelo during the spring. “Angelo can hit, he has a great arm and he’s a leader,” DeCarlo said. “Plus, he’s an excellent student. He’s the whole package.”

Cantelo is looking to find a college where he has a chance to contribute as a freshman and receive a top-notch education. “Wherever I go, I’m going to try my best,” Cantelo said. “If they want me to catch, play first base or a corner outfield spot, I’m willing to do it. It’s all about doing what’s best for the name on the front of your jersey, not the name on the back.”

Exactly.

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