Baseball: Keith Lehmann’s bat, Alex Vannucci’s two-hitter vault Lyons into semis

Updated: July 25, 2012 5:29PM

Keith Lehmann looked to be in some pain in the bottom of the seventh inning Wednesday morning.

But the Lyons mainstay was feeling pretty good a few minutes later after the Lions punched their ticket to Thursday’s semifinals of the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Phil Lawler Summer Classic.

Lehmann’s two-run double gave pitcher Alex Vannucci all the offense he needed as Lyons edged Maine South 2-1 at North Central College in Naperville. The Lions (30-4-1) will play Jacobs at 12:30 p.m. Thursday with the winner advancing to the 7 p.m. title game that night. Both games will be at Benedictine University in Lisle.

Maine South, which later was eliminated with a 7-5 loss to Joliet Catholic, took a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning against Lyons as rising senior Jack Touhy was cruising along with a one-hit shutout.

Lyons No. 9 hitter Matt Aikens led off with a single to right and Stewart Nelson hit into a forceout. A stolen base and Mike Lorenz’s walk and a wild pitch set the table for Lehmann.

“I had a rough (first) two at-bats,” said the incoming senior, who hit into a fielder’s choice and struck out in his first looks at Touhy. “I was thinking, ‘I knew he had a loopy curveball, so I’ll sit on that and adjust to anything else.’ ’’

That turned out to be a good plan.

“He threw it and I got a good piece of it,” Lehmann said. “I just tried to put the ball in play because the runners were at second and third. I was just trying to get a run in.”

He wound up scoring two and that was the difference. Vannucci did the rest, pitching a two-hitter with two walks and seven strikeouts.

The ending wasn’t without drama. Maine South’s Bobby Pennington reached second with one out when Lehmann threw wildly past first on a grounder.

Lehmann, who pitched a complete game on Monday against Joliet Catholic and is the Lions’ ace, took off his glove and grabbed his shoulder after the error. But with two out, he fielded Adam Depkon’s grounder and threw to first for the game-ending out.

“It’s fine, it’s fine,” Lehmann said of his shoulder. “I tried to rush (the throw on Pennington’s grounder) a little too much. I shouldn’t have done that.”

Vannucci gave up both Maine South hits and the Hawks’ lone run in the fourth, when Jesus Saavedra singled, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Pennington’s single. Otherwise, the Lions righty was almost perfect.

“He’s a great pitcher, he’s a great kid, too,” Lehmann said of Vannucci. “Every time he’s out on the mound, he battles. I love having him on my team.”

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