Baseball: Lyons Township KOs top-seeded St. Laurence
Updated: June 18, 2012 4:40PM
The defending Class 4A state champions aren’t ready to bow out quite yet from the state playoffs.
Senior Steve Heilenbach hit a two-run home run and scattered four hits while going the distance as fifth-seeded Lyons Township stunned top-seeded St. Laurence 8-3 Wednesday in the Mount Carmel Sectional semifinal.
Heilenbach opened the game’s scoring with a smash to left field that scored Evan Booth in the top of the third inning. Booth added his own two-run home run in the fourth to give LT (24-12-1) a 4-1 lead. Both Heilenbach and Booth hit their seventh home runs of the season. The Illinois State-bound Heilenbach is the only senior and one of two returning starters from LT’s state championship team a year ago.
“I knew it was gone. That one was over the scoreboard,” said Booth, who had three RBI. “When Steve gets ahold of of one, you don’t even question it.”
Heilenbach (4-4) gave up St. Laurence’s first run in the third inning on Brad Wood’s RBI single, which scored T.J. Marik after his ground-rule double. The Vikings (30-7-1), who are ranked No. 7 by YourSeason.com, scored twice in the fifth when Brandon Mallder scored on a wild pitch and Wood followed with a run off Kevin Smith’s groundout.
Heilenbach allowed four hits, walked four and struck out seven. He struck out five of the first seven batters he faced and gave up two hits in the third inning. Heilenbach threw 113 pitches, 60 for strikes and worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third by getting Creighton-bound Smith to ground out with two outs.
“It’s always great when you get out to a fast start,” Heilenbach said. “I got the first three batters out (by strikeouts). I was just challenging hitters. My change-up worked well and my fastball had a lot of movement.
St. Laurence starter Zack Lewis (6-2) came up lame during his at-bat to Booth with one out in the third. Lewis stayed in the game, but walked Booth, and then Heilenbach homered on Lewis’ first pitch in the next at-bat.
“The biggest thing was throwing strikes (for Lewis),” Vikings coach Pete Lotus said. “He had a little issue with his hamstring. I decided to bring Brad out there.”
Lewis lasted only three innings and allowed two hits and two runs. Wood had troubles of his own in relief in the fifth after he was hit on his left non-throwing arm on a come-backer by Tom Prescott. Wood gave up hits to three of the next four batters he faced, walking another batter, and would be charged with four runs in the inning, six runs overall.
“During the majority of the season, pitching has carried us,” Lotus said. “There have been times when we haven’t hit much.”
LT’s probable starter for the sectional final at 11 a.m. Saturday is junior right-hander Keith Lehmann (8-2). LT will play second-seeded and No. 6-ranked Mount Carmel (31-5) or third-seeded and No. 9-ranked St. Rita (24-12).
“We have finally come together,” LT coach George Ushela said. “They were a little bit resistant. We went two weeks without practice (making up postponed games). We needed to practice.”