The Lyons Township baseball team took a step closer to the Class AA State Finals last week. Unfortunately for Riverside Brookfield, the Bulldogs stood in the way.
Lyons Township rolled to an 11-0 victory against its rival to claim the regional championship. The win earns LT a spot in the sectional semifinal today against St. Lawrence at St. Rita. If the Lions win against St. Lawrence, they will face the winner of St. Rita and Nazareth on Saturday.
Against RB (11-22, 6-9 Metro Sub. Confer.), the Lions (28-9, 13-5 West Sub. (Silver) Confer.) pounced early and did not look back. LT plated its first run of the game courtesy of a solo home run from Ed Vilunis in the second and rallied again in the third inning with Alex Georges starting things with a lead-off single. Jack Easley then tripled, followed by a Casey McMurray single. McMurray then stole second and third, with an error on the throw to third allowing him to score.
LT continued to roll in the fifth when Easley hit a solo homer, but the Lions waited until the sixth to break the game wide open. Brian Lorenz started with a single and then scampered to second on a wild pitch. A single by Mark Hochberg scored Lorenz, followed by a C.J. Esposito walk. Georges then hit a drag bunt single, followed by an Easley two-run double. McMurray then hit a three-run homer for the ninth, 10 and 11th run to end the game.
LT was just as formidable on defense with Grant Fillipitch (10-1, 1.11 ERA, 43 SO) sparkling on the mound, throwing just 53 pitches and limiting the Bulldogs to just one hit. The senior ace allowed no walks and struck out two en route to his 10th win of the season. LT coach George Ushela made sure his team came prepared to play.
“It was real important to get things going early for us and by no means did we take RB lightly,” he said. “The guys came focused and Fillipitch had a great game on the mound for us. It was great to see the guys from the bottom of the lineup contribute. We got some production from them in the bottom of the sixth and that is a great sign as we move deeper into the tournament.”
Indeed, the road will only get bumpier from here on, with LT’s next game being a rematch of last year’s sectional semifinal. With seven starters returning to the St. Lawrence lineup, Ushela knows his ballclub will be challenged.
“They are very competitive team and we know they are talented,” he said. “With each step we take in the tournament, things get harder and harder and they will definitely be difficult to beat. We just have to focus on playing our game and try and not beat ourselves.”