The Lyons Township baseball team completed its dream season with an 8-3 win over Providence to win the IHSA Class 4A State Championship at Joliet’s Silver Cross Field on Saturday. The Lions’ victory over the slightly favored Celtics capped off a 37-4 campaign in which LT dominated the West Suburban (Silver) Conference en route to the school’s third baseball state championship.

“We kind of joked around earlier in the year that we would be state champions,” LT centerfielder Brian Kelley said. “We knew that we had a good team, but maybe not this good. It’s really special because everybody pulled for each other.”

The Lions also bested Catholic League powerhouse Mount Carmel in the state semifinals during their historic weekend.

Facing Providence in essentially a battle between the top teams in the state, LT fell behind early as Celtics slugger Sam Travis belted his 17th homer of the season off Lions’ ace Connor Cuff, giving Providence a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

The Lions responded in their half of the opening frame by scoring three runs. LT first baseman Brian Rodemoyer laced an RBI-double and Cuff hit an infield out that scored a run. The Penn-bound Cuff helped his own cause again with a two-run double in the third, pushing the LT lead to 5-1. Shortstop Spencer Mahoney scored on a wild pitch in the next inning to build the lead to 6-1.

The Lions chased Providence starter Brandon Magallones, who gave up five runs and eight hits in 2 1/3 innings, out of the game. Conversely, Cuff scattered five hits and fanned six against the Celtics’ vaunted offense, which featured numerous Division I college-bound players.

“Connor is a real bulldog on the mound,” LT coach George Ushela said. “He’s very aggressive, focused and confident in his ability.”

The hard-throwing righty finished his two-year varsity career with a perfect 19-0 record.

“Cuff and [No. 2 starter Zach Remigas] and Remi were phenomenal all season,” Kelley said. “Offensively, we have had a bunch of guys contribute.”

Providence cut the LT lead to 6-3 in the sixth as Travis doubled to score a run and Zak Kutsulis hit a run-scoring groundout. Reflective of their entire season though, the Lions answered the Celtics’ push with a pair of runs to seal the 8-3 victory.

“There was a lot of talk about Providence all season,” LT outfielder/designated hitter Tom Walsh said. “Beating a good team [like them] in the state championship makes it even more meaningful.”

Cuff (1-for-3, 4 RBIs), Rodemoyer (2-for-2, 3 runs), the Valparaiso-bound Mahoney (2-for-2, 3 runs), and junior Steve Heilbenbach (3-for-4, 2 runs) led LT, which pounded out 11 hits for the game.

With three state baseball titles overall, LT earned its second state championship under Ushela, who also guided the Lions to the 2003 state crown. He served as an assistant coach on the LT girls volleyball state championship team in the fall.

“Coach Ushela is a great coach,” Walsh said. “He pushed us this season to really challenge our opponents. Being one of the two [LT] teams that won state this year is really an amazing accomplishment.”