Baseball playoff previews: No. 4 LT takes aim at 3rd straight trip to state title game

Published: Monday, May 20, 2013 3:30 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Matthew Piechalak – mpiechalak@shawmedia.com)
Lyons Township shortstop Stewart Nelson tries to turn a double play against Hinsdale Central May 6 in Western Springs.

Lyons Township

Class: 4A

Sectional seed: No. 4

Regional: Argo

Regional opener: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 vs. Kenwood or Proviso West

What to watch: Things are lined up fairly similarly to last spring, when the Lions went all the way to the Class 4A state final.

Then, LT was a No. 5 seed and the top three seeds in the sectional were St. Laurence, Mt. Carmel and St. Rita. This year, LT is a No. 4 seed and the top three seeds are the same Chicago Catholic League powers.

Before worrying about those teams, the Lions will have to get through the Argo regional. LT is the top seed with No. 5 Simeon looking to pose the toughest challenge.

Ace pitcher Keith Lehmann will make the Lions a tough out any time he takes the mound. The Michigan recruit has a 1.78 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 51 innings.

After that, Tom Prescott, Alex Vannucci and Zach Carlson will need to provide the Lions with the pitching performances required to make a third straight trip to state.

Riverside Brookfield

Class: 3A

Sectional seed: No. 5

Regional: Riverside Brookfield

Regional opener: 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23 vs. Prosser or VOISE Academy

What to watch: The Bulldogs may feel slighted by the sectional seeding. There are more teams ahead of them in the Nazareth sectional (four) than the Bulldogs have losses (three) this season.

The Metro Suburban Conference leaders began the week with a 26-3-1 record. That one tie came against the top seed in the sectional, Nazareth.

East Suburban Catholic Conference-leader Benet, MSC-rival Glenbard South and Suburban Christian Blue-winner Montini are also seeded ahead of the Bulldogs.

“I felt like our body of work throughout the season merited something more, but I guess that just shows what kind of tough sectional it is," said RB coach Dallas Till. "In 3A, there may not be a tougher sectional around.”

RB had a team batting average of .357 entering Monday. That offense plus ace Will Kincanon (0.66 ERA, 86 K in 53.1 IP) will give the Bulldogs a good chance to get by Montini in a possible regional final at Ehlert Park.

Morton

Class: 4A

Sectional seed: No. 12

Regional: St. Rita

Regional opener: 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23 vs. Whitney Young

What to watch: Despite being a much improved team this season the Mustangs are only a seed higher than last year.

Morton will take on No. 6 seed Whitney Young in the hopes of pulling off an upset in a regional semifinal for the second year in a row. Coach Mike Casey doesn't see it as a possible upset since the Mustangs have been more tested in the West Suburban Conference than the Dolphins have been in the city.

“I think they’re a very beatable team," Casey said. "I don’t think they play the schedule that we play.”

The Mustangs started their challenging schedule with St. Rita, the No. 3 seed in the sectional and potential regional final opponent. If Morton gets past Young, St. Rita likely awaits. Rita beat Morton 6-0 on March 23.

Nazareth

Class: 3A

Sectional seed: No. 1

Regional: Guerin

Regional opener: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 vs. Farragut or Pritzker College Prep

What to watch: The Roadrunners have struggled in the deep East Suburban Catholic Conference, but high expectations remain.

Nazareth is the top seed in its own sectional and may have the previous two postseasons partially to thank for that. The Roadrunners have made the final four in Class 3A both of the last two years, but entering Monday were just 5-9 in the ESCC.

Meanwhile, No. 2 seed Benet leads the conference. Glenbard South, Montini and Riverside Brookfield also bring talented squads to a deep sectional.

All-conference returners Tim DalPorto and Mike Stromberg have again been key parts of the team. Junior two-way player Jake Bartels, who was on the mound for the Roadrunners' sectional win last year, will need to have a big postseason again.

After traveling to Guerin for the regional, Nazareth gets to host the sectional. No. 11 Guerin and No. 8 Elmwood Park are possible regional final opponents.

St. Joseph

Class: 3A

Sectional seed: No. 6

Regional: Glenbard South

Regional opener: 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23 vs. Latin

What to watch: The Chargers are the No. 6 seed in the deep Nazareth sectional, but have enough quality wins on their resume to show they are a dangerous team.

St. Joseph is looking for a third straight regional title a year after making a sectional final. This year's team has quality wins over Providence Catholic, St. Ignatius and Fenwick and is tested as always by the Chicago Catholic League.

The Chargers could see No. 3 Glenbard South in a regional final on the road.

Fenwick

Class: 4A

Sectional seed: No. 10

Regional: Fenwick

Regional opener: 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 23 vs. De La Salle

What to watch: The Friars open the playoffs against No. 7-seed De La Salle, a team they split with in the regular season.

Fenwick lost to the Meteors May 4, but got even at the Dominican Priory in River Forest two days later. That's good news for the Friars since the regional will take place at the Priory.

If the Friars – which have hovered around .500 throughout the season – advance, they could get a crack at No. 2 St. Laurence in the regional final.

Proviso West

Class: 4A

Sectional seed: No. 20

Regional: Argo

Regional opener: 4:30 p.m. Monday at Kenwood

What to watch: The Panthers went winless in the West Suburban Silver and were seeded only ahead of district-rival Proviso East in the sectional.

If West gets by No. 13 Kenwood, they will take on No. 4 Lyons Township in a regional semifinal.

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