Prep Baseball Report

Lemont, Sublette Bounce Back To Advance To 3A Title Game

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

JOLIET, IL – It didn’t look good for No. 22 Lemont and its starting right-hander Ryan Sublette early on. Sublette, Lemont’s junior ace, struggled to find the zone while St. Viator scored two quick runs in the first inning.

But as Lemont’s offense began to figure out St. Viator left-hander Kevin Napoleon, Sublette settled down in a big way, and the net result was a resounding 10-2 victory in the Class 3A state semifinals at Silver Cross Field.

Thanks to Sublette’s impressive 14-strikeout complete game, Lemont (29-9) will compete for its second state championship in three years. Lemont will play the winner of Limestone-Springfield at 11 a.m. Saturday for the title.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Sublette, who’s one of the top uncommitted 2017 prospects in the state, looked shaky in the first inning. He walked the leadoff hitter, hit the next, and yielded a run-scoring hit the first three batters, prompting coach Brian Storako to get someone up in the pen.

Storako never needed to make the slow walk to the mound, though.

Sublette struck out three to get out of the jam, and the rest was history. He finished his 141-pitch complete game yielding only two hits with four walks and a season-best 14 punchouts.

“Ryan really settled down and threw well,” said Storako. “The second inning on, it was just Ryan being Ryan.”

At one point in the fourth and fifth innings, he struck out five straight. Perhaps even more impressive was he got stronger as the game wore on, despite pitching in a heat advisory – one that prompted the IHSA to have a two-minute “water break” every two innings. Sublette’s fastball velocity started in the 85-86 range in the first inning. In the fifth he was pitching at 87-89 with his fastball, and was 85-89 in the seventh.

“I think what happened was I guess I was a little jacked up before the game,” said Sublette, who improved to 9-1 this season.

The Indians finally got on the board in the third inning, scoring three runs to take the lead it would never relinquish. Senior third baseman Austin Tittle’s two-run single gave Lemont a 3-2 advantage.

The Indians busted the game open in the sixth inning with six runs. Senior catcher Casey O’Brien delivered the big blow with a tape-measure three-run bomb to right-center field. Two batters later, senior Garrett Acton crushed a down-and-in fastball for a home run down the right-field line.

“I think it was the farthest ball I’ve ever hit,” said O’Brien.

Junior SS Dominic Connolly had a leadoff triple in the fifth inning, and finished with two runs scored. CF Joe Kelley added a pair of hits, and No. 9 hitter, junior 2B Angel Salinas, went 2-for-3 with two runs and a RBI.

St. Viator (25-16), which advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 1965, looked like its impressive postseason run would continue when speedy CF Mike Ragauskis walked to lead off the game, and Shaun Falbo was hit by a pitch, and the two advanced a base on a wild pitch. Shortly after, Ragauskis scored on an error by O’Brien throwing the ball back to the pitcher. Senior Cole Kmet followed with a RBI to make it 2-0. Meanwhile, Butler-bound left-hander Napoleon (10-4) looked unhittable, striking out the side in the first behind a three-pitch mix.

Lemont, which had won a state championship in 2014, didn’t panic. Now the Indians have hard-throwing Acton (6-2), a St. Louis recruit, ready to go for Saturday’s state-championship game.

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