Baseball: Lincoln-Way North’s Mike Miller mows down Lockport
Updated: May 26, 2012 4:23PM
Mike Miller’s curveball was behaving as intended in the bullpen, so the Lincoln-Way North junior right-hander decided to open Saturday’s Class 4A regional final with consecutive breaking balls — both for strikes. And so it went, as Miller played a wicked game of three-pitch monte, baffling Lockport during No. 2 Lincoln-Way North’s 4-0 victory in Frankfort.
The 6-1, 170-pound Miller (9-0) masterfully shuffled his pitches, limiting a hard-hitting Lockport (24-13) team to three hits. He finished with nine strikeouts — eight coming in the first four innings — and two walks. A Lockport runner never reached third base.
“I felt good out there today,” Miller said. “In the bullpen everything was working for me. Everything felt good. I established the curveball early and spotted it all game.”
After winning its own regional championship, Lincoln-Way North (32-5) advances to Thursday’s sectional semifinal against Homewood-Flossmoor, which defeated Sandburg 6-3.
The Phoenix broke open a scoreless tie when junior left fielder Mike Irace and junior shortstop Josh Handzik opened the bottom of the third inning with consecutive singles. A sacrifice bunt by Jake McCabe moved them over, and Irace scored on a wild pitch. Junior right fielder Alex Neufield staked North to a 2-0 lead with a run-scoring single.
Irace and Handzik were back at it in the fifth, each scoring again on a sacrifice fly by McCabe and a RBI single by Corey Krupske. Irace (2-for-3) and Handzik (1-for-2) – the No. 7 and 8 hitters – scored all four of the team’s runs. Senior Dominic Hartman also had two hits.
“That’s our team,” said Lincoln-Way North coach Joe Skarbek. “It’s not the same guy every time. Everyone contributes. Every guy can hit in the lineup.”
Lockport junior right-hander Evan Martens (7-3) threw well in defeat. He struck out five in the first three innings and finished with six punchouts in six innings. He yielded no walks and nine hits. Martens, however, needed to be perfect with the way Miller was holding down the Porters’ offense.
“He was able to throw the curveball and command the strike zone,” Lockport coach Andy Satunas said. “He kept us off-balance, then we started to get a little anxious. … I haven’t seen anyone do that for seven innings like that. It was a heck of a performance.”