Leading 3-1 with two outs in the top of the seventh inning of a doubleheader, the Lyons Township baseball team was on the verge of sweeping three-time West Suburban (Silver) Conference defending champion Oak Park. But it wasn’t meant to be as the Lions gave up back-to-back doubles with runners on base and fell 5-3.
Despite their disappointing loss in Game 2, the host Lions (12-4, 7-1 West Suburban Silver) won the opener 6-2 and registered another solid overall performance on Saturday.
Lyons won the opener behind a strong pitching performance from junior ace Connor Cuff. Despite being sick earlier in the week, the hard-throwing righty worked six innings, allowing two earned runs and five hits while striking out seven.
“Connor pitched well,” LT coach George Ushela. “Oak Park swings it pretty well, so he did a good job pitching out of some jams.”
Lyons reliever Zach Remijas struck out three and allowed one hit in the seventh to close out the hard-hitting Huskies.
“Oak Park is a great ballclub, so I just tried to keep us in the game,” Cuff said. “I wanted to establish the fastball and work it inside, too. Fortunately, I got a lot of run support.”
Lyons scored six runs over the first three innings of Game 1. After Steven Heilenbach walked, senior outfielder Mark Koziel blasted a two-run homer to put the Lions up 2-0 in the first inning. Brian Rodemoyer and Tom Walsh hit doubles in the third to extend the LT lead to 6-1.
“We were hoping to jump on them and get ahead,” Koziel said. “We had a couple of good innings, and Connor and Zach pitched well.”
John Frueh hit a solo home run for the Huskies in the second inning.
Game 2 started in similar fashion as the Lions jumped out to an early 2-0 lead when starter Heilenbach helped his own cause with a two-run home run in the fourth.
Oak Park (11-6, 4-4) battled right back, scoring two runs in the fifth. Frank Picchiotti singled to start the inning and Jack Picchiotti drove him in with an extra-base hit. Jack Picchiotti scored later in the frame on a groundball hit to shortstop by Andrew Godbold.
Lyons regained a 3-2 lead in the fifth when Mike Pett smacked a double to left and Spencer Mahoney singled to right to score Pett.
Remijas continued his impressive work, striking out the side for LT in the sixth, but he walked Frank Picchiotti and Jack Picchiotti to start the seventh. Those free passes opened the door for the clutch hitting of Godbold and Alec Jeffries.
“I was just looking to make contact and drive in a run,” Jeffries said about his game-winner. “It was important that we got at least a split [today] since these were conference games.”