Lyons scored in every inning, and Alex Vannuchi pitched five frames of two-hit ball as the Lions pounded out 13 hits and smacked three home runs in a 10-0, six-inning victory Thursday over Maine West to win the Fenwick Regional final of the IHSBCA Phil Lawler Classic.
The Lions (28-4-1) advance to pool play, beginning at 10 a.m. Monday at Benedictine University in Lisle, for the first time since 2006. They will compete against seven other teams in a modified double-elimination format to determine the state’s summer baseball champion.
Thursday’s game was moved from River Forest site to the Lions’ Western Springs home field because wet grounds made the Fenwick diamond unplayable, and Lyons took advantage of the situation immediately.
The Lions scored two runs in both the first and second innings, one in the third fourth and sixth and three in the fifth, when Stewart Nelson (2-for-3, walk, three runs, RBI) and Keith Lehmann (2-for-3, three RBI) both hit long homers over the left-field fence, Lehmann’s coming with a man on.
“We left the bases loaded the first two innings and that had me a little worried that it might come back and haunt us because we were being a little too selective at the plate with three called third strikes in the first two innings,” Lyons coach George Ushela said. “But we played good defense today and Vannuchi pitched great.
“Last week after giving up three runs in the first against Willowbrook he had six straight hitless innings and he threw three more today, so he had nine innings in a row without giving up a hit. He kept their kids off balance, he had strikeouts and ground outs and they only hit one fly ball against him.
‘‘Our lineup is coming around and I’m encouraged. We’re back at the state and it’s going to be a fun, new experience for these kids.”
Vannuchi struck out five, walked one and allowed just two singles, both in the fourth inning off the bats of Maine West’s Raul Anaya and Tommy Hennessy. Anaya tallied the Warrriors’ only other hit of the in the sixth.
“Our defense really did a great job today — that’s my bread and butter,” Vannuchi said. “I’ve also been getting ahead in the count combined with the guys making plays behind me makes everything go when I’m out there. Today my curveball was really biting for me and falling in for strikes. When that’s working I usually do pretty well.”
Lyons’ Mike Lorenz, one of four players, along with Nelson, Lehmann and Tom Prescott (single, walk, RBI), who was on Lyons’ spring squad that finished second in the state, also reached base three times and scored three runs after a pair of singles and a hit by pitch. Sam Heilenbach provided some offensive punch with a solo homer and a walk with the bases loaded.