Lyons, Lehmann thump No. 6 Mount Carmel

By Drake Skleba

CHICAGO – Lyons Township, for the second year in a row, made it a clean sweep of the mighty Chicago Catholic League Blue Division, as the Lions crushed No. 6 Mount Carmel 9-1 to win the Class 4A Mount Carmel Sectional Championship. Lion junior right-hander pitcher Keith Lehmann (9-2) fired a five-hitter at the Caravan to lead the Lions (25-12-1) to the Elite 8 for the second year in a row.

On Wednesday, the defending Class 2A state champs hammered No. 7 St.  Laurence 8-3 for its third consecutive win over a Catholic Blue squad in Class 4A state tournament action. In 2011 the Lions beat then No. 2 Mount Carmel 4-1 in the semis and crushed then No. 1 Providence Catholic 8-3 to bring home the Class 4A state championship to Western Springs.

The Lions are trying to be the first Illinois school to win consecutive state titles since the 1958-1959 Maine Township squads under the tutelage of the venerable Al Carstens who won the single class tournament state championships in 1958 & 1959. Carstens would lead Maine Township to a third title in 1962. Recently, Teutopolis and Stanford Olympia won consecutive titles in the Class 2A.

On Saturday morning, the Lions jumped all over Mount Carmel's Tyler Laurisch (10-4), who earned the Catholic Blue Division MVP Tony Lawless Award. Before the big crowd had settled in their seats, the Lions had plated five runs in the top of the first.

Lehmann (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI) helped himself with an RBI single to give the Lions a 1-0 lead. Senior Matt Robare (2-for-2, HBP, 2 RBI) doubled home a run. After the first out of the inning was recorded, Lion senior catcher Brad Taylor and junior Mike Lorenz, made it 4-0 Lions on an RBI single and a sac-fly. No. 9 hitter junior shortstop Stewart Nelson (2-for-4, RBI) singled home the fifth and final run of the inning.

“We are really hitting the ball well 1-through-9 in our lineup,” said Lyons Township head coach George Ushela. “We have always had great pitching this year, but not until recently have we been hitting the ball consistently.”

The Lions added a run in the second on an RBI single by Robare, his second RBI of the game.

“We came out aggressive and hit them with a five spot early,” said Robare. “Keith was a stud on the mound today. With a big lead like that Keith is unbeatable. I felt really good today at the plate.”

The Lions picked up two more in the third to open up an 8-0 lead. In the third, Illinois State-bound second baseman Steve Heilenbach's third hit of the day plated his first RBI and he would score on a passed ball for an eight run cushion for Lehmann.

“We are really hot right now. We are extremely confident and are hitting the ball throughout the lineup,” said Heilenbach. “Keith pitched a great game for us. He had all his pitches working for us and gave us a lot of easy ground balls on the infield. I was aggressive at the plate and hit the ball well.  

Lehmann was pounding the strike zone all day. Lehmann induced 13 Mt. Carmel ground outs with his hard-biting curveball and changeup. Lehmann struck out five in his masterpiece.

Lehmann concluded his fine day at the plate with a booming RBI double to give the Lions a 9-1 lead in the top of the sixth.

“Mount Carmel is a great team and I really kept the ball down against them,” said

Lehmann. “My defense was great behind me and I really had them pounding the ball into the ground today. I am really proud of my performance on the mound today. At the plate I just decided to take the ball up the middle and had a couple of good swings today.”

The defending champs will meet Marist (28-11) at 7:30 on Monday night in the Class 4A Standard Bank Stadium Super-Sectional.

“We are really putting it together at the right time,” said Ushela. “Keith pitched an outstanding game for us today. We played great defense behind him.”

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