Baseball: Minooka loses to Lyons in 4A semifinals
By Dick Goss email@example.com June 8, 2012 10:04PM
Minooka pitcher Josh Jimenez delivers against Lyons on Friday in a Class 4A state semifinal in Joliet. | Ray Luna ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 11, 2012 10:24AM
Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic glanced at the throng of media gathered in the press box at Silver Cross Field and said, “Obviously this is not the interview we wanted to be doing.”
After playing so well throughout the playoffs, the Indians suffered through a poor game Friday evening and dropped a 6-2 decision to LaGrange Lyons in the semifinals of the Class 4A State Baseball Tournament.
“They deserved to win,” Petrovic said. “But what surprised me was how poorly or how tight we played early on. We came in with a lot of confidence, but we hurt ourselves early and often.”
Lyons (27-12-1), the defending 4A state champion, made things more difficult for Indians with clutch hitting, excellent defense and the strong pitching performance of junior right-hander Keith Lehmann.
At that, Minooka (27-14), which entered the weekend in search of its first state title, had opportunities early to change the complexion.
After Lyons scored an unearned run off senior left-hander John Jimenez (11-3) in the top of the first, the Indians loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the inning. But cleanup hitter Max Brozovich rapped into a tailor-made double play as the tying run scored.
Then after the Lions went up 2-1 in the second, Minooka put runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the inning. Leadoff man Alex Bebar, who had lined a single to center his first at-bat, drilled a shot up the middle that would have put the Indians ahead, but Lehmann snagged it and threw him out at first.
“That gets through and momentum swings to us,” senior shortstop Tyler Thorson said. “But that’s baseball.”
From that point, Lyons took control. The Lions scored twice more on Stewart Nelson’s two-out, two-run single off Jimenez before he was removed in the third inning and twice in the fifth off sophomore right-hander Mitch Vogrin, who worked the final 4 1/3 innings.
“I wasn’t tired at all,” said Jimenez, who was pitching on three days’ rest for the first time this season. “But all I could find was my fastball. I realized that by about the middle of the second inning. You can’t get by at this level with only a fastball.
“I felt great in the bullpen before the game. But sometimes you feel great in the pen and you’re awful in the game, and sometimes it’s vice versa.”
Petrovic said it was “a no-brainer” to start Jimenez on short rest “as long as he was healthy. He has been my guy for three years.”
The Indians finished with five hits, all singles, and committed four errors that made five of Lyons’ six runs unearned. Minooka had committed one error total in five previous postseason games.
“What got us here hurt us today,” Petrovic said. “I’m so happy for the guys, yet this is so gosh darn disappointing.”
“I don’t know what it was, maybe a lack of concentration,” senior second baseman Nick Fleischauer said.
Senior left fielder Nick White, who made a nice running catch in deep left-center field, drove in the second Minooka run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth to make it 4-2. But Lyons responded again, scoring two more in the top of the fifth en route to a berth in Saturday’s title game against Oak Park-River Forest. Minooka met Fox Lake Grant for third place.
“I wish we would have played better,” Petrovic said. “It’s great to be here, it’s a great atmosphere. You’re not going to see a greater bunch of people than our fans you saw here today.”