Lyons Township Spoils No. 1 Brother Rice's Season-Opener

By Sean Duncan

Executive Director

WESTERN SPRINGS, IL - Traditional power Lyons Township had been down for its lofty standards in recent years. But the Lions got an early-season resume-builder when they spoiled No. 1 Brother Rice’s season-opener Monday with a 4-3 home victory.

With a solid contingent of pro scouts on hand to see Brother Rice ace RHP Ryan Kutt, Lyons Township (2-0) never showed flashes of sniffing victory through the first five innings. The big question was how quickly the game would finish so everyone can get into their heated cars.

Kutt, a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder who’s one of the top pitching prospects in the Midwest, left the game with Brother Rice leading 2-0 after five innings of play.

Then the wheels on the Brother Rice bus got a little wobbly in the bottom of the sixth. Junior RHP Joey Payton hit the first batter he faced, then proceeded to get two quick outs via a grounder and a punchout on an 86-mph fastball. Payton walked the next batter and hit the following to load the bases.

Brother Rice coach John McCarthy went to the pen, bringing in Zach Litke, who yielded an infield single to junior pinch-hitter Bryce Moskiewicz, cutting Brother Rice’s lead to 2-1. More importantly, the hit brought to the plate senior 2B Michael Courtney, the only player in Lyons’ lineup that put good swings on Kutt, which included a single on a 90-mph fastball and an opposite-field double to left field.

The left-handed hitting Courtney continued to swing a hot bat when he smoked a down-and-in fastball to right-center field for a double to clear the bases and stake the Lyons to a 4-2 lead. Courtney finished 3-for-4 with three RBI and two doubles.

Brother Rice got a run back in the seventh when senior OF Brett Bagus connected for his second solo home run of the game to left field with two outs. But junior reliever Michael Martino recorded the final out to seal the victory. Bagus, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound unsigned senior, finished 3-for-3 with two homers, a single and a stolen base.

The early-season matchup pitted a pair of University of Illinois recruits, albeit in different classes. Lyons Township sophomore RHP Grant Leader, who’s currently ranked No. 6 in Illinois’ 2019 class, impressed in his varsity debut. After yielding a leadoff infield single to Michigan State-bound SS Ryan King, who later came around to score, to start the game, the 5-foot-9 Leader seemingly got stronger as the contest wore on. In fact, the only Brother Rice hitter Leader couldn’t get out was Bagus, yielding a solo homer in the third and a two-out single in the fifth.

Leader finished his impressive performance with nine strikeouts, one walk, three hits and two runs, as he pounded the zone with his 85-88 mph fastball, curveball and slider combination

Kutt delivered a rock-solid performance as well, throwing his trademark sharp 81-84 mph slider - which very well may be the best single pitch in the entire state for consistent strikes - while peppering the strike zone with his 87-90 mph fastball, touching 91 once. Kutt struck out seven with no walks, yielded six hits (most of which were not barreled) and no runs.

For more in-depth notes from the game - and all other games that we cover - visit the Illinois Scout Blog later.

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