Lyons Township downs JCA to win another summer title

By Drake Skleba

LISLE – The even-numbered years have been good to Lyons Township head coach George Ushela. In 2002, 2004, and 2006 Ushela’s Lions won the IHSBCA summer state championship. Being an even-numbered year, the odds were good that the Lions would do it again in 2012.

Behind a solid pitching performance from junior all-tournament selection Max Larsen and another two-hit performance from tournament MVP senior Mike Lorenz, the Lions rolled past Joliet Catholic Academy 7-3. With the victory the Lions will take home the Phillip Lawler Memorial State Tournament Championship team trophy.

For LT, the Lions move into second place with four IHSBCA state championships behind Oak Park-River Forest. The Lions fell 4-3 in one of the greatest IHSA state championship games in history to Oak Park-River Forest on June 9 in the Class 4A title game. Oak Park has won six IHSBCA championships in the 37-year history of the tournament.

In this game, the Lions jumped out in front with two runs off of JCA All-Tournament selection, sophomore RHP Nick Dalesandro. All-Tournament Selection senior SS Stewart Nelson singled and scored when senior 1B Tom Prescott walked with the bases loaded. Larsen picked up the first of his three hits and three RBI, plating the second run of the inning.

“It was a great game for us,” said Larsen. “I didn’t have my best stuff on the mound and went with my fast ball. “At the plate I was really locked in and had a great night.

“After the spring state championship loss, we really worked hard for this and it is really great to have won this championship.”

JCA (19-4) answered with a three-spot in the second against Larsen. All-Tournament selection senior 2B Brock Pluth highlighted the inning with a clutch two-out, two RBI single to give the Hilltoppers the lead 3-2.

Lyons Township (33-4-1) answered with a three-spot of their own, knocking out Dalesandro and reclaiming a 5-3 lead. A booming RBI double by Larsen highlighted the three-run Lion inning.

LT tacked on two runs in the seventh to expand their lead to 7-3. Prescott and Larsen had RBI singles in the inning.

All-Tournament selection and All-State RHP Keith Lehmann entered the game in the bottom of the seventh and blew the Hilltoppers away with his upper 80s heater, striking out two.

“What a game Max Larsen pitched for us,” said Lehmann. “I told Max after the sixth that I was going to close it out for him and not let him down. Mike Lorenz had an unbelievable tournament. I was very relaxed out on the mound in the seventh and had confidence in my stuff.”

2012 Jack Kaiser Memorial Most Valuable Player Award winner, Lion senior RF Mike Lorenz had an off-day at the plate. Lorenz only had a two-hit night with a walk. Lorenz hit an amazing .692 in the tournament with a 9-for-13 week at the plate. Older brother Brian was the 2006 Kaiser MVP Award winner.

“Max did a great job for us,” said Lorenz. “It’s awesome too take home the state championship and the Jack Kaiser MVP Award.”

Joliet Catholic Academy closes out a sensational summer season with a 19-4 mark. Two of those came in this tournament against LT.

“Like I said before the game, it is very exciting to be one of the final two teams in this 147-team tournament,” said JCA head coach Jared Voss. “We fell a little short tonight but this is a great spring-board for our 2013 season.”

For the IHSBCA/Phil Lawler Summer State Champions from LT, the Lions only have to wait 307 days for an April 27. 2013, visit to Western Springs from the defending Class 4A champions from Oak Park-River Forest. The huge West Suburban Silver double-header is scheduled for 10 a.m. I’m sure Sean or yours truly will be in Western Springs that day.

“Max Larsen was outstanding for us on the mound and at the plate,” said Ushela. “Max is just a competitor. He battles and the mound, he has some presence and does us a nice job.

“Our pitching has been outstanding all summer and it’s great to win this tournament again.”

2012 Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association/Phil Lawler

All-Tournament Team

 IF Mike Kornacker    St. Laurence

 IF  Brad Wood             St. Laurence

 IF  Brock Pluth            Joliet Catholic Academy

 IF  Stewart Nelson      Lyons Township

  C  Aaron Mejci            Jacobs

DH  Chris Tschida         Joliet Catholic Academy

OF  Bobby Pennington Maine South

OF  Mike Lorenz            Lyons Township

OF  Nick Dalesandro     Joliet Catholic Academy

  P  Max Larsen             Lyons Township

  P  Keith Lehmann       Lyons Township

  P  Alex Vannucci         Lyons Township

  P  Mike Testa              Joliet Catholic Academy

Fall Prospect Program Slide NEW 2012