HINSDALE – Last year, Lyons Township baseball had an up-and-down regular season, but had its longest winning streak in the playoffs to make the state final.
This year, the Lions are having a similarly inconsistent regular season, but are showing signs that the late-season run again could be possible.
LT took two out of three from defending state champion Oak Park-River Forest last week and ended the week with lopsided victories over Leyden and Hinsdale Central.
“I’m encouraged,” LT coach George Ushela said. “Maybe we’re hitting a good stride right now. Our starting pitching has been pretty good the last three weeks.”
Zach Carlson pitched a complete game shutout in a 9-0 win over Leyden on Thursday and ace Keith Lehmann limited Hinsdale Central in a 12-2 win in the series opener Friday.
“We’ve really cut down on our walks,” Ushela said. “Early in the year we had way too many walks.”
The Michigan-bound Lehmann has a 1.91 ERA with 55 strikeouts in 44 innings and a 6-0 record. Entering Monday’s game against the Red Devils, Lehmann had a team-best .371 batting average with 17 RBIs and 23 runs scored.
“My hitting has been a little rough, but it’s starting to pick up actually,” Lehmann said. “I’m hoping to continue what I’m doing on the mound. I’m pretty happy with what I’m doing on the mound.”
Mike Lorenz was 5-for-5 in the win over the Red Devils. LT pounded 17 hits and tagged Central’s Bobby Skogsbergh, a Boston College recruit, for seven runs and chased him from the game in the fourth inning.
“We’re starting to be more consistent offensively,” LT coach George Ushela said. “I think some of that comes with practice; I think some of that comes with experience.”
The Lions took the second game from Hinsdale Central 5-4 on Monday in Western Springs to clinch the series. Zach Carlson was 3-for-3 at the plate and picked up the win in relief. LT fought back from 4-1 down by scoring three in the sixth and another in the seventh on a walkoff double by Sam Cybulski.
LT's wins paired with Oak Park River Forest's sweep over Downers Grove North has moved the Lions into a three-way tie in the loss column for the lead in the West Suburban Silver. DGN and OPRF are 11-4 while the Lions (17-7 overall) are 10-4 heading into Tuesday's series finale at Hinsdale Central.
These back-to-back West Suburban Silver series with OPRF and Hinsdale Central have extra significance given the Lions’ rivalry with the Red Devils and the meeting with the Huskies in last year’s Class 4A title game.
“Oak Park is a baseball rival, but Hinsdale is an all-sport rival,” Lorenz said.
“I’ve got a couple buddies on [Hinsdale Central],” Lehmann said. “I played with them all up until high school so I have respect for them. They’re a good team. It’s fun playing against Hinsdale Central. In any sport there’s always going to be that rivalry between LT and Hinsdale.”
LT will finish league play with a three-game set against York. LT will host a doubleheader on Saturday and head to Elmhurst for the finale.