Baseball: Sam Cybulski’s extra-inning hit sends Lyons to final

Story Image Lyons Township's Sam Cybulski is mobbed after he hit the game winning single to end their semi-final game at Benedictine University in Lisle against Jacobs on Thursday, July 26, 2012. Lyons won 5-4 in the 8th inning. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
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Updated: July 26, 2012 5:51PM

George Ushela called it and Sam Cybulski delivered.

That’s the short version of how Lyons earned a shot at its fourth unofficial summer state title since 2002.

Cybulski’s RBI single to right drove in Mike Lorenz with none out in the bottom of the eighth, lifting the Lions past Jacobs 5-4 Thursday afternoon in the semifinals of the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Asociation’s Phil Lawler Classic at Benedictine University in Lisle.

Lyons (31-4-1) advanced to play Thursday night against Joliet Catholic, the team it beat 6-2 in Monday’s tourney opener.

Cybulski’s hit came with the bases loaded and allowed the Lions to pull out a win in a game they led 4-0 before Jacobs rallied. Lyons left seven runners on in the first three innings and stranded the potential winning run at third in the bottom of the seventh.

“We missed a lot of opportunities the first three innings,” Lyons coach George Ushela said. “We could have opened it up.”

Cybulski made sure the Lions didn’t waste another chance in the eighth.

“I had a tough game,” said the rising junior, who was 0-for-3 before his game-winner. “I was just waiting for my pitch, trying to help my team out. I got a (first-pitch) strike and hit it into right field.”

It was Cybulski’s second walk-off hit, but “this one definitely means more.”

“The last couple days he’s been jamming himself,” Ushela said. “I did call him down and say, ‘You’re going to get a game-winner right here,’ before the inning started. Because I knew if we got somebody to second, they would walk somebody and it would set it up.”

Lorenz led off with a double and went to third on Keith Lehmann’s single before Tom Prescott was intentionally walked to set the stage for Cybulski.

Prescott drew a bases-loaded walk with none out in the first, but Jacobs starter Jon Berndt retired the next three hitters without any more scoring. Stewart Nelson’s sacrifice fly in the second made it 2-0, but the Lions left two more runners on.

Prescott walked again with the bases loaded and Sam Heilenbach hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth to make it 4-0, but Jacobs rallied in the fifth and sixth.

The Golden Eagles scored twice in the fifth with the help of three Lyons errors and Matt Hickey’s RBI forceout. They tied it in the sixth on Grant Kale’s RBI groundout and a wild pitch.

“We had a rough defensive inning that one inning,” Cybulski said. “But it’s a great group of guys over here so I knew we could pull it together.”

Lorenz was 3-for-5 with a run for Lyons, while Nelson went 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. Heilenbach went the final two innings in relief to earn the win. Prescott started for the Lions and retired the first 10 batters he faced, allowing all three Jacobs hits over six-plus innings.

“We talked about being resilient all year,” Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. “I think there were some nerves playing a program like Lyons that is one of the best in the state. ... I was proud of the guys coming back and tying things up. We battled. ...

“We’re trying to prove we can make it to Joliet (for the state finals) in 2013.”

Contributing: Tim O’Brien

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