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25-win season falls short of LT's lofty expectation

Keith Lehmann follows through on a pitch during Lyons Township's sectional semifinal 
loss against Mt. Carmel May 29 at Reavis High School.
Keith Lehmann follows through on a pitch during Lyons Township's sectional semifinal loss against Mt. Carmel May 29 at Reavis High School.

BURBANK – For all the recent success Lyons Township baseball has had, expectations have gone up with that.

LT’s season ended on May 29 with a 25-11 record after a 5-3 loss to Mt. Carmel in a Class 4A Reavis sectional final. What would be unquestionably a successful season for most teams may not feel the same for a team that has made the state final the past two springs and entered the season as summer state champs.

“The expectations are sometimes unrealistically high,” said LT coach George Ushela. “I felt realistically we had the firepower and the pitching to get there and Mt. Carmel is a very good team and played exceptionally well on defense last Wednesday against us. They made four or five very exceptional defensive plays that thwarted us attaining a bigger lead or even coming back and they had timely hitting off of Keith Lehmann.”

The Lions scored first with two runs in the third and were tied 3-3 entering the bottom of the sixth when the Caravan scored twice with two outs. Lehmann started on short rest after pitching a complete game in the regional final victory over Simeon on May 25.

Zach Carlson came on in relief and recorded a strikeout against the only batter he faced. His scoreless inning streak remained intact at 30.1 innings.

“Our senior pitchers were phenomenal,” Ushela said. “Zach Carlson his last 30.1 innings did not give up a run. Keith Lehmann was very steady all year. Alex Vannucci pitched very well. Tom Prescott, too.”

A 25-win season is hard to call a disappointment, but Ushela knows the team was capable of more. Lehmann, a Michigan recruit, and shortstop Stewart Nelson, an Evansville recruit, gave the Lions Division I talent to go with the program’s tradition. A tough schedule and poor early spring weather also played against the Lions.

“We had some ups and downs during the season,” Ushela said. “I think most teams do when you’re highly rated. I think we dealt with some complacency issues. I guess complacency can also be overconfidence. We knew we were good and if we walk out there we’re going to win. Baseball is such a tough sport that there are so many elements involved.

“In our 11 losses, five or six of them it was a matter of some breaks and some untimely hitting and an inning here and an inning there. I think that’s part of the game of baseball.”

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