Westmont Rides Long Ball To Regional Title Over Lisle

By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director

ELMHURST, IL – Westmont rode the long ball and survived a furious late rally by Lisle to win the Timothy Christian Class 2A Regional Championship for the second year in a row on Saturday 6-5. The Sentinels belted three home runs and were led by senior middle infielders Charlie Donovan and Anthony Powers, who each homered and had two hits.

Westmont (28-8) got on the board first in the bottom of the third against Lisle (12-17) hard-throwing senior ace George Swedie. Early on the Wisconsin-Milwaukee bound righthander was pounding 84-86 mph fastballs, coupled with a sharp breaking curveball. Senior designated hitter took the first fastball he saw from Swedie and launched a towering, no-doubt home run to left field, giving the Sentinels a 1-0 lead.

The Sentinels added two more runs in the inning, as the state’s top ranked player, shortstop Charlie Donovan showed off his vast array of tools. Donovan lined to right field sharply, then stole second and third before scoring on a wild pitch. In the meantime with a base open and two outs, Joe Donovan was intentionally walked. Joe scored on senior second baseman Anthony Powers’ RBI single past shortstop, giving Westmont a 3-0 lead.

Junior left-handed pitcher Kevin Melvin held down Lisle to one run in his first five innings of work. Sophomore catcher Grant Haen walked in the fifth for the Lions to put runners on first and second before Melvin made a slick fielding play on a sacrifice bunt attempt to nab the runner at third. Haen scored later in the inning on a wild pitch to cut the Wesmont lead to 3-1.

In the bottom of the fifth Westmont’s offense erupted again, with Charlie Donovan (2-for-3, two runs scored, three stolen bases, walk) once again setting the tone. The Michigan-bound shortstop, who is likely to be selected early in the June’s MLB Player Draft, led off the inning with a deep home run to right-center field to push the lead to 3-1. With one out, Joe Donovan got in on the action with a long double to right field. Powers (2-for-2, walk) took a 2-0 fastball from Swedie and put a cap on his banner day, driving a two-run home run to deep left-center field for his third RBI of the day, giving Wesmont a 6-1 lead.

“The two-run homer felt good to get a piece of the ball”, said Powers. “Swedie is a phenomenal pitcher with a good fastball and breaking ball so it was tough to decide what he was going to throw. Our goal is state and to finish better than last year (Westmont finished 3rd in Class 2A in 2014)”.

Lisle wasn’t going to lay down over the last two innings, instead mounting a comeback starting with Haen again, who walked to lead off the sixth. Melvin was lifted in favor of senior right-handed pitcher Austin Loehman, who gave up a single senior first baseman Ryan Joyce. Sophomore five-hole hitter Mark McGrath lined a two-RBI double to right-center to pull the Lions to within three at 6-3, before Loehman settled down and recorded three outs.

Swedie went back out for the sixth and struck out three hitters, stranding runners at second and third with two outs to hold the Lions’ within striking distance. The 6-foot-1, quick-armed righty finished with nine strikeouts on the day, allowing seven hits and three walks, ultimately hurt by the trio of homers.

Down three run facing elimination, Lisle mounted one last comeback. Leadoff man Christian Grego began the inning with a hit-by-pitch, and junior Drew English followed with a double off the wall in right to put runners at second and third. After a strikeout, Ryan Joyce grounded a ball hard up the middle that Charlie Donovan picked cleanly to his glove hand. Joyce’s RBI-groundout cut the lead to 6-4, bringing the tying run to the plate in Mark McGrath.

As he did in the sixth, McGrath lined another double into the right-center gap, scoring English, putting the tying run on second base.

After some consultation, Westmont coach DJ Cocks decided to intentionally walk Swedie to face sophomore David White. Loehman struck out White to end the game on a curveball down in the zone, which initially bounced away from sophomore catcher Joe Donovan. The younger Donovan brother quickly pounced on the baseball to his left in foul territory, making a long throw for the game’s final out.

“Loehman did what he had to do to get the win”, said Cocks. "I tip my cap to Lisle, I don’t know how we got six runs, we would have been happy with four off Swedie. He’s a great pitcher, tough to square up, and I wish him luck in the future. We wanted it bad and it’s a gritty win. As we move forward we are going to be challenged in games like this.”

Kevin Melvin earned the win on the mound for Westmont allowing two earned runs in 5.1 innings of three-hit baseball. He struck out two, walked two, and hit one.

In addition to McGrath, nine-hole hitter Trevor Stitt and Drew English had two hits apiece for the Lions.

Westmont moves on to face the winner of Winnetka North Shore Country Day and F.W. Parker (the score has still not been reported as of press time on the IHSA website). The sectional semi final game will take place on Wednesday night at Lisle High School, 6:30 pm start.

Check the Illinois Scout Blog for insider scouting information from Saturday's contest.

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