Miller, No. 1 Lincoln-Way North blank No. 8 Lyons

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

WESTERN SPRINGS, IL – When it came down to choosing the preseason No. 1 team this spring, Lyons Township and its recent run of state trophies got the nod by the narrowest of margins over Lincoln-Way North.

On Wednesday, in a head-to-head non-conference matchup between two of the state’s top teams, senior right-hander Mike Miller single-handedly proved the decision incorrect by firing a one-hit masterpiece to lead now-No. 1 Lincoln-Way North to a 3-0 victory over No. 8 Lyons Township.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Miller (1-0) struck out eight and walked one in his complete-game effort. The only hit he yielded was a bloop opposite-field single by Max Larsen in the second inning. Only two Lyons (4-2) batters reached base, neither advancing to second base.

“Yeah, it’s early April still, but we were a little hungrier today,” said Miller, who is signed at SIU-Edwardsville. “Lyons is a good team, and we wanted to show that we’re a good team, too.”

Miller kept Lyons off-balance with a steady diet of sharp curveballs, which he consistently threw for strikes. Working in less-than-desirable conditions, Miller pounded the zone for seven innings, working his fastball to both sides of the plate, in the 81-84 mph range. His sharp 71-74 mph curveball, however, was the pitch that had the Lions flailing.

“I felt good out there,” said Miller, who earned Prep Baseball Report second-team All-State honors as a junior. “I established my fastball early and went from there.”

Lincoln-Way North (5-0) broke open a scoreless tie in the top of the fifth. Center fielder Corey Krupske ignited the three-run inning with a one-out infield single. Shortstop Josh Handzik followed with a walk against Lyons starter Thomas Prescott (2-1). Both runners advanced into scoring position after a wild pitch. Senior catcher Ryan Pellack delivered the decisive blow with a two-run single past the shortstop to give the Phoenix a 2-0 cushion. They added another run on a throwing error.

The three-run lead was more than enough for Miller.

“He’ the real deal,” Lincoln-Way North coach Joe Skarbek said. “What makes him so tough is he’s always around the strike zone.”

Creighton-bound third baseman Kevin Smith went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored for the Phoenix, and Pellack went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks.

Lyons brought in its ace, senior Keith Lehmann, to pitch the final two innings. The Michigan-bound right-hander struck out four with one walk and one hit in two scoreless. Lehmann’s two-seam fastball sat at 88 mph, touching 90 once. He struck out three in the seventh on all sharp curveballs, in the 76-77 range.

“It’s always fun to play good teams,” said Lehmann, who earned first-team All-Area as a junior. “They definitely earned it today. [Miller] was definitely good. He had good stuff.”

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