Most baseball players would love to have Keith Lehmann’s off day on the mound.
For now, though, a 1-hitter will have to do.
The Lyons Twp. senior pitcher’s control was not pinpoint, but it was good enough to lead the Lions to a 4-3 victory over Naperville Central in a showdown between state powers Thursday in Western Springs.
Lehmann allowed the 1 hit to Blake Butler on the opening at-bat of the game. It was a tap to the mound where Lehmann slipped and fell before being able to throw to first.
Naperville Central (1-1) put the tying run on third in the top of the seventh — after the Redhawks’ fifth walk of the game — but Lehmann escaped the jam to earn the 89-pitch complete game.
“It wasn’t my best day, but I had a little trouble finding the strike zone with my fastball,” said Lehmann, who is committed to Michigan. “Anytime you have a game like that you’ve got to rely on your other pitches.”
Leaning on his off-speed pitches helped Lehmann keep the Redhawks off balance to the tune of 10 strikeouts. Naperville Central didn’t hit a single ball out of the infield.
The Lions (2-1) had 4 of their 6 hits in the bottom of the fifth as they scored 3 runs to grab the lead for good.
“Lehmann’s a very tough pitcher,” said Redhawks coach Mike Stock. “He was in the zone with everything, and he’s a competitor. That’s his best attribute.
“It’s got a postseason feel,” he said. “It’s going to come down to, often, who executes and who doesn’t. And you know what? We didn’t make some pitches in the fifth inning.”
Naperville Central took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Butler moved to second when Nicky Lopez walked. Butler scored from second on a dropped throw to first base on starting pitcher Jimmy Nashert’s sacrifice bunt.
Nashert struck out six through three innings and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third when a wild pitch turned into a inning-ending caught stealing at home. Lyons Twp. tied the game in the fourth inning, Nashert’s last on the mound, on Sam Cybulski’s RBI single to left.
Michael Lorenz, Tom Prescott and Max Larsen had run-scoring hits in the bottom of the fifth as the Lions built a 4-1 lead.
Leadoff walks to Butler and Lopez in the top of the sixth led to 2 runs for the Redhawks. Butler scored on Jeff Schank’s groundout, and Lopez came home on a wild pitch to narrow the margin to 4-3.
“We had some timely hitting, which was good,” said Lyons Twp. coach George Ushela. “We had 4 RBI singles out of four different guys, which is encouraging because our lineup needs somebody different.”
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