Baseball: Lyons’ Keith Lehmann stymies Joliet Catholic

Story Image Lyons Township's Mike Lorenz (28) dives for a ball in right field against Joliet Catholic in the Lawler Summer Classic Monday, July 23, 2012 at Benedictine University in Lisle. The Lions advance by beating the Hilltoppers 6-2. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
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Updated: July 23, 2012 10:34PM

Keith Lehmann was as sharp as he needed to be Monday morning, and that was more than enough to keep Lyons rolling.

The rising senior ace pitched a four-hitter as the Lions knocked off Joliet Catholic 6-2 at Benedictine University in Lisle in the first round of the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Phil Lawler Classic.

Lyons (29-4-1) will play Maine South at 10 a.m. Tuesday at North Central College in Naperville with a semifinal berth on the line.

Lehmann wild-pitched home a run in the first and gave up another run on three walks and a hit in the third, but settled down after that. He walked five, hit one and struck out five.

“I felt fine,” he said. “It was obviously pretty hot so I was a little fatigued.

“I was kind of leaving my fastball up a little it and my pitches weren’t working as well as I wanted them to. It’s just one of those days. ... Every fifth outing you have those where you can’t find it.”

Fortunately for Lehmann, his defense was flawless. The Lions didn’t make an error, turned two double plays and bailed out their pitcher with an odd forceout to end the third.

The Hilltoppers had the bases loaded with two out when Alex Voitik sliced a sinking liner to right. Mike Lorenz came up short on an attempt to make a diving catch, but got the ball to second baseman Sam Cybulski, who threw out Ryan Peter at the plate for the third out.

“That was a heads-up play by Mike,” Lehmann said. “He knew he didn’t catch it, so he threw it in as quick as he could.”

The Lions broke the 2-2 tie in the fifth on Sam Heilenbach’s two-run double to the gap in left-center. No. 9 hitter Kyle Dilcher, who finished 3-for-4, singled home Heilenbach for a 5-2 lead.

“That was timely hitting,” Lehmann said of Heilenbach’s hit. “It got the train rolling a little bit.”

Stewart Nelson’s RBI single in the seventh accounted for the final margin. Nelson and Lorenz also had three hits for the Lions, who scored on a wild pitch and an error in the first inning.

And so Lyons continued the run it’s been on for the past couple years, which included an IHSA Class 4A state title in 2011 and a state runner-up finish last month.

“We’re saying we can hang with anyone, we’re a good team,” Lehmann said.

“We haven’t lost too much,” Lyons coach George Ushela said. “The big thing is keeping them confident, not cocky.”

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