Lyons Township baseball players Dan Weston and Justin Birks recently wrapped up their impressive baseball careers.
The Lions reached the state quarterfinals this year and Birks and Weston were key cogs in the LT machine. The talented duo amassed an impressive 69-11 record during their three-year tenure on the varsity squad and will be sorely missed, according to LT coach George Ushela.
“Both of those guys are hard to take off the field and that work ethic greatly influenced the rest of the guys,” he said. “Weston was a captain and Birks, as the catcher, handled all the pitchers. These guys were vital to our success over the past three years.”
Birks played 40 games this season and amassed 52 hits, 41 RBIs, including 14 doubles and seven homers. Most impressive, however, was his batting average leaping to .426, up from .270 as a junior. Birks will continue his baseball career at Parkland Junior College, located near Springfield. Birks said that he has several goals to achieve at Parkland, the first is to increase his grade-point average.
“My goal is to work on my grades and of course, play baseball,” Birks said. “I want to play at Parkland for a year or two and then my goal is to jump to a four-year school to continue playing baseball and work toward becoming a gym teacher. It is exciting to be done with high school and I am excited to go to Parkland, but I am going to miss LT and the guys on the team. “
Meanwhile, LT’s loss is Illinois State University’s gain, at least regarding Weston. Weston was a force for the Lions this year, both on the mound and in the batter’s box. Weston played in 41 games and scratched out 51 hits for 48 RBIs, including a .398 batting average. He finished with four doubles and seven home runs. Weston was also dominant on the mound for LT, compiling an 11-1 record over 72.1 innings pitched. The right-hander allowed a miniscule 12 earned runs this season, notching his ERA at an abysmally low 1.35.
Weston, who signed before the season began with Illinois State, admits that playing baseball in college is a dream come true. The 3.5 GPA student will study business administration in addition to vying for a starting spot on the ISU ballclub.
“I always wanted to play in college,” Weston said. “I have been working out with my dad every day and I am lifting weights to try and get stronger before I enter fall ball. I have a shot to start in centerfield or left field, so, I really want to be as prepared as possible.”