The Lyons Township High School baseball team was down to its last strike.
The Lions trailed by one run in their IHSA Class 4A regional final against Oak Lawn on May 27, but they had the bases loaded. Senior James Georgelos was facing an 0-and-2 count.
“At that point, you just do a two-strike approach, shoring up and just thinking about putting the ball in play,” Georgelos said.
For the first time all season, the Lions achieved a walk-off victory.
The left-handed Georgelos singled into short left field to score Jack Falls and pinch-runner John Mozis for a 4-3 victory over Oak Lawn and a regional title.
“It was pretty surreal, all of the hard work paying off and seeing the team celebrate like that was pretty awesome. I’m not going to lie. It was a great feeling,” Georgelos said.
The Lions (25-9), the No. 1 seed in the Mt. Carmel Sectional, plays No. 4 Brother Rice on May 31. The winner meets No. 3 St. Rita or No. 7 Reavis for the sectional title on June 3.
Last year, the Lions captured their first regional title since 2014 but lost in the sectional semifinals. That regional title also was emotional, beating St. Rita 12-7 after trailing 7-2.
“Especially because it was a home game,” LTHS coach Kevin Diete said. “This entire [third-base] line was filled with people and we had filled-in bleachers. That’s why it kind of made it extra special was being in the home atmosphere, being down the entire game and making a comeback with two outs. It was special and hopefully these guys have a memory they won’t forget.”
Falls walked with one out to start the rally. Sam Viniard then walked with Mozis entering as a pinch-runner. After a strikeout, Luke Nicholaus was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Then came Georgelos.
“[Their pitcher] kind of threw it outside and James just stayed with the baseball,” Diete said. “[Mozis] was really aggressive. He got a good secondary lead and once that ball was hit, he was off. It was pretty much a no-doubter he was going to score.”
Junior Nate Anderson (3-1) was the pitching star in just his second relief appearance this season. Anderson struck out five of the seven Spartans he faced and threw 20 of 24 pitches for strikes.
Upon Anderson’s entrance, the momentum began to shift. Catcher Patrick Engels picked a runner off second.
“That was probably the best [Anderson] has thrown all year in terms of his attitude on the mound,” Diete said.
The No. 9 Spartans had pulled ahead 3-2 in the fourth with a leadoff double, passed ball and balk. Oak Lawn scored twice in the first, and LTHS answered with two runs in the third on consecutive doubles by Troy Stukenberg (2 for 3) and Falls and Viniard for RBIs.
In the May 24 regional semifinals, winning pitcher Brady Chambers (4-2) threw a five-inning, one hitter with nine strikeouts and no walks as LTHS defeated No. 17 Proviso East 12-0. Falls (2 for 3, 2 RBIs), Ryan Jackson (2 for 2, 3 runs), and Stukenberg doubled, Engels (2 RBIs), Nicholaus and Viniard tripled and Michael Mango had three RBIs.
The supersectional is June 5 at Ozinga Field in Crestwood against the champion of the Lockport Sectional, where No. 1 Providence, No. 2 Lincoln-Way East, No. 3 Lincoln-Way West and No. 4 Lockport remain.