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Baseball: Keegan Tyrell makes quick impact as Joliet Catholic defeats Lemont

Joliet Catholic pitcher Sam Couch. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media

Joliet Catholic pitcher Sam Couch. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 6, 2013 3:58PM



What a week it has been for sophomore Keegan Tyrell.

He’s enjoying every minute.

Tyrell was promoted Wednesday from the sophomore team and played his first two varsity games as Joliet Catholic beat Divine Child (Mich.) and Andrew. On Thursday at Gillespie Field, he was the difference as the Hilltoppers overcame Lemont 3-2 in an early game in the second annual Stephen M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament.

With the score at 2 in the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Peter led off with a long double to left-center field, his second hit on an pitching-dominated afternoon. One out later, Tyrell sent a fastball from Lemont reliever Jake Terrazas into right-center field to drive home the eventual game-winner.

“I knew when it left the bat that it would fall in,” Tyrell said. “It’s a great feeling.”

Tyrell, who had one hit Wednesday, said he’s feeling comfortable at the plate. A varsity basketball player during the winter, he said his plan is to enjoy the experience as long as possible.

“He’s playing right field for now,” Joliet Catholic coach Jared Voss said. “But it’s not like he doesn’t have other guys on his heels.”

“It’s nice to see someone that young get a big-time hit like that,” Peter said. “He was my running mate in basketball.”

The Hilltoppers (5-3), who have won four straight, went to war without flu-stricken No. 3 hitter and shortstop Chris Tschida. But the pitching of right-hander Sam Couch, a save from Nick Dalesandro and Tyrell’s clutch hit were just enough.

“This ‘W’ was for Chris,” Voss said. “Nobody wanted to be out there more than him. We have two more games this week. I hope he gets healthy and back in there.”

Couch (1-0) went six innings, allowing three hits and striking out 10. Two hits came in the second inning when No. 8 Lemont (3-2) grabbed a 2-0 lead. Eric Tucker’s single drove in the first run, but both runs were unearned.

“It’s always something early with me, but I get over it,” said Couch, who said he tried to convince the coaches to let him finish the game. “My breaking ball was good (Thursday); I guess it’s usually that way.”

Joliet Catholic scored in the bottom of the second against LSU-bound junior left-hander Jake Latz on three walks and Jon Trotto’s sacrifice fly. The Hilltoppers tied it 2-2 in the third when Dalesandro walked, went to third on Peter’s single and hustled home as a pickoff throw trickled a few feet from first baseman Connor O’Brien.

Both starting catchers, Lemont’s LSU-bound junior Mike Papierski and Joliet Catholic’s Alex Voitik, picked runners off second base. Lemont’s second catcher, Billy Hayes, threw out Tyrell attempting to steal after his big hit.

A typically exciting Lemont-Joliet Catholic game.

“I knew with that kid (Latz) throwing, it would be this kind of game,” Couch said.

Joliet Catholic and Lincoln-Way West are among the five teams assigned to the Class 3A Lemont Regional, so nothing is settled yet.

“It’s always a good game with Lemont,” Voss said. “They’ve closed the gap and become one of the top teams in the area. Joe Rod (former coach Joe Rodeghero) created that bridge. Lemont is another great local rivalry like Minooka, Lockport and Providence.”

“Unfortunately we gave up too many free passes,” first-year Lemont coach Brian Storako said. “Latz didn’t have his best stuff, but he’ll learn from this.

“We’re not close yet to where we want to be. We want to improve every day. It’s a learning process. The kids are learning from me, learning how I do things.”



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