Strong arms lead Lake Zurich in playoffs
Updated: July 28, 2011 12:04PM
Lake Zurich baseball coach Gary Simon can’t recall any of his teams ever posting a trio of consecutive shutouts, but the Bears’ pitching-rich staff managed to pull off the rare feat during this year’s IHSBCA State Summer League Tournament.
The Bears, who eventually lost to Libertyville 12-8 in a Libertyville Regional semifinal, opened the tourney by blasting Zion-Benton 10-0. Austin Foote earned the win, firing six shutout innings. The 6-foot-3 left-hander allowed four hits while striking out nine and walking one.
“Austin pitched very well at the end of the summer,” said Simon, aware that Foote allowed only one run in his final two starts, spanning 13 innings.
The big hit on offense belonged to Ian Ryan, who blasted a three-run triple.
With the club set to play a second game on July 18 in 90-degree heat, Simon turned to lefty Wyatt Spector, who outpitched Grayslake Central’s Mark Ash to help LZ secure a 2-0 win.
“Wyatt was just dominating,” Simon said. “Our pitching coach, Larry Lewis, was a big-league pitcher whose best pitch was a slider. That pitch has really helped Wyatt out.”
Spector, who hopes to pitch at the next level, has added velocity to his fastball. Against the Rams, he made sure that a two-run single by Tanner Kiser in the first inning held up.
Simon then received a bit of good fortune prior to facing Grayslake North. Star right-hander Mike Lutz, who has spent most of his summer on travel teams, volunteered to take the ball on July 19.
“I said, ‘Thank God,’ because I knew Grayslake North was tough,” Simon noted.
Lutz did not disappoint, firing a two-hitter with nine strikeouts and merely one walk in a 2-0 Bears victory.
“Mike just totally dominated,” Simon said. “In the past, he tried to throw everything the same speed. But his change of speeds (vs. the Knights) was awesome, and he threw everything for strikes.”
Lutz was helped out by the hitting of Mike Shastany (2 doubles) and James DeGeorge (2 hits, RBI).
All of the good vibes ended against Libertyville, however, as the Bears dug a 9-0 hole through two innings on July 20.
“I saw a lot of guys with their heads down,” the coach said. “I said, ‘We can come back.’ ”
The Bears almost climbed the mountain, closing to within 12-8 and loading the bases in the seventh inning. But the rally came up just short.
The loss overshadowed the hitting of Jacob LaRue (3 hits), DeGeorge (3 hits), Shastany (double) and Sean Eder (double).
“LaRue had the best game of his high school career,” Simon said.
Throughout the tournament, Simon saw strong play by infielders Joey Pizzolato (shortstop), LaRue (second base), Shastany (third base) and Kiser (first base).
Simon also praised the hitting of Shastany and DeGeorge. The top two batters in the lineup both hit close to .600 during the week.