Baseball: Lyons drops Marist, continues defense of its titleCody Bohanek, of Marist, singles against Lyons at Standard Bank Stadium for the Class 4A Supersectionals, Monday, June 4th, 2012 in Crestwood, IL. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 4, 2012 11:03PM
There were times during its 12-loss regular season that Lyons didn’t resemble a state championship caliber squad. The Lions had some uncharacteristic lapses on defense and failed to execute on offense.
The one constant, however, was the pitching staff, which came through in flying colors on Monday against Marist at the Class 4A Crestwood Supersectional.
The tandem of Matt Robare and Steve Heilenbach tamed a Marist offense that had scored 40 runs in four playoff games, and led Lyons to a 3-2 victory at Standard Bank Stadium.
The Lions (26-12-1) stand two wins away from registering their second straight Class 4A title and fourth in the program’s history (1967, 2003, 2011). They’ll take on Minooka Friday at 5 p.m. at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.
“We had some fielding lapses and struggled to hit the ball at times, but our pitching has been solid,” Lyons coach George Ushela said. Our hitting has come around. I like our chances this weekend.”
While Robare and Heilenbach starred on the mound, it was Keith Lehmann who did the damage at the plate for Lyons.
Lehmann drilled a two-run double in the first inning and added an RBI single in the third to stake Lyons to a 3-0 lead.
“I can’t even put into words how great this feels,” Lehmann said. “I don’t even know. It’s unreal.”
Marist (29-12) stranded 13 runners on the night, including eight in scoring position.
Credit for limiting the RedHawks damage goes to Robare and Heilenbach. Robare worked out of bases loaded jams in the first and second innings. In the fourth, Marist loaded the bases again with no outs. That’s when Ushela called on Heilenbach. A two-base throwing error by Lehmann allowed Marist to cut the lead to 3-2.
But Heilenbach then retired three straight hitters, two on strikeouts, to preserve the one-run lead.
“We just couldn’t squeak one through the infield or hit a gapper (with runners on base), which is what we’ve been doing,” Marist coach Tom Fabrizio said. “We were a couple of bounces away from tying the game. I’m proud of how hard the guys played.”
Evan Booth (3-for-4) played a major part of the Lions offense. He doubled to start the game and scored on Lehmann’s double. In the second, he recorded a two-out hit and again scored on a Lehmann hit.
“Evan has really come on,” Ushela said. “I told him in the summer, I don’t know where you’re going to play, but you’re going to play. He’s been our leader. He’s stepped up.”
Lehmann recorded two hits off Marist starter Mike Hearne, who will attend Notre Dame in the fall.
“I was just picking the ball up really well out of the pitcher’s hand,” Lehmann said. “I was able to take a couple up the middle. It’s always a great momentum swing to get runs early.”
The RedHawks had a golden opportunities to score in the fifth and sixth innings. Heilenbach, however, doused both fires, stranding three runners, including two in scoring position. The senior right-hander allowed two hits, walked two and struck out five over four innings.
“Steve came in and did a really good job,” Ushela said. “He’s a three-year starter. He wanted the ball. He’s got nasty stuff.”
Hearne allowed six hits, walked four, hit two batters and struck out five in a 102-pitch effort.
“It was a good season,” Fabrizio said. “Mike (Hearne) battled for seven innings. I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish.”