Baseball: Lehman, Lyons Township hold off Reavis
Lyons Township's Keith Lehmann (left) and Matt Robare (right) celebrate Evan Booth’s home run against Morton Saturday in the Reavis Class 4A Regional title game Saturday. | Ray Luna~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 25, 2012 3:17PM
The Lyons Township baseball team won the Reavis Class 4A Regional title Saturday with a 12-2 win over Morton in five innings.
The Lions were scheduled to play St. Laurence Wednesday in the Mount Carmel Sectional.
LT began the defense of its Class 4A state championship with a couple of oddities Thursday at Reavis.
LT opened its half of the bottom of the first inning with a pair of home runs on back-to-back pitches. The second home run bounced off the outfielder’s glove and went over the fence.
But perhaps an even stranger situation occurred in the seventh inning when starting pitcher Keith Lehmann re-entered the game as a reliever to close out the Rams. Fifth-seeded LT won 10-7 over 10th-seeded and host Reavis.
It was a nail-biter for LT (22-12-1) in the top of the seventh when left-hander Alex Vannucci relieved Lehmann, but could not record an out after facing five batters. A 10-3 LT lead entering the inning turned into 10-5 when Lehmann came in to finish the inning with the bases loaded and no outs. Lehmann gave up an RBI single to Dan Meskill and then hit Leo Hernandez to allow another run to score.
Lehmann (8-2), a junior right-hander, worked out of the inning by striking out Tom Pindelski and then Lehmann started a double play on Richie Velez’s comebacker to the mound to end the game.
“That was pretty wild,” Lehmann said. “Games like that happen in baseball. Anything can happen. The team was good at the bat, but we walked a couple of guys and I was hunting for the strike zone.”
“We wanted Vannucci to get experience. I don’t know if he was ready or not. I’m glad it’s over,” LT coach George Ushela said.
Lehmann threw 124 total pitches, 82 for strikes, but tossed 14 pitches in a relief role after pitching the first six innings. He allowed seven hits, three runs (one earned), did not allow a walk and struck out 10.
“My arm feels fine, but it usually hits in two days,” Lehmann said. “It was tough, but I’m glad I could get back out there and save my team.”
Reavis (17-19) took a brief lead in the first inning on Jake Stano’s two-out RBI single to score Mike Lally (2-for-4, 2 runs).
But LT answered in the first when Evan Booth took Zach Mackowiak’s first pitch over the left-field fence for his fifth homer of the season. Steve Heilenbach hit his sixth homer on the following pitch. His line drive to left fielder Joe O’Hara bounced out of the palm of O’Hara’s outstretched glove and went over the fence for a rare unearned home run.
“I caught a glimpse of it,” Heilenbach said. “I saw it was a liner and I thought it would be good for an out. I guess it hit off his mitt, because I heard the crowd going.”
LT scored six runs and sent 11 players to the plate in the fifth. In the fifth, Brad Tayler added a two-run homer, his second of the year. All of LT’s runs came off Mackowiack (6-4), who allowed 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. Mackowiak threw three wild pitches in the fifth, two allowed runs to score.
Mackowiak, David Beltran, Stano (2-for-3, run) and Josh Arnold played their final games for Reavis, which won seven consecutive conference games at one point during the season.
“They battled, this team,” Reavis coach Don Erickson said. “They never gave up, which is important whether we were down 10 or up five. The kids never gave up. I like that.”