From third place in the DuPage Valley Conference to third place in the state.
Lake Park's baseball team took its victory lap on Saturday, beating Sandburg 7-1 to claim third place in Class 4A at Route 66 Stadium in Joliet.
Lancers starting pitcher Jay Palmer fired a 3-hitter with 6 strikeouts in front of an errorless defense, and Lake Park broke open the game by scoring 6 runs while sending 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the third inning.
Palmer surrendered a run in the top of the seventh, but other than that it was a picture-perfect performance from Lake Park. Kind of like the other performances the Lancers (25-15) used to make the deepest playoff run in program history.
"We knew we wanted to finish a historic season with a win," Palmer said. "It feels great, especially being able to pitch the last game of the season. I wish it was the title game, but this will do."
At one point in late April, Lake Park struggled at 9-10 after losing six straight. The Lancers also lost senior second baseman Thomas Ross to a season-ending collarbone injury during that stretch.
Or so they thought.
Ross returned to the field for one pitch on Saturday. It was a pitchout from Palmer to catcher Zach Aehlert to start the game. Ross left the field after that, joyfully greeted by his teammates outside the dugout.
"I wasn't expecting it," said Ross, who found out Saturday morning he'd be in the starting lineup. "Coach (Dan) Colucci told me I'd need to put on my jersey, and I teared up a little bit. It really means a lot to me."
After a groundout to start the bottom of the third, five straight batters reached base for the Lancers. A bases-loaded walk to Paul Beverly and an infield single by Anthony Baturin opened the scoring.
Then Johnny DeConcilis, who subbed in for Ross at second base, blasted a 3-run double to make it 5-0. Eric Brown drove him in with a single to boost the lead to 6-0.
Rory Marino -- one of 13 seniors on the roster -- scored the final run with an RBI groundout in the sixth inning.
"I feel great for my guys," Colucci said. "I'm happy for the community, the alumni, the parents, the former coaches, everyone who called and reached out. It's pretty cool."
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