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Baseball: Southland coaches have tough pitching decisions

Updated: July 3, 2012 12:20PM



With the exception of No. 6 Lincoln-Way West taking down No. 3 Lemont in Class 3A, and No. 7 Homewood-Flossmoor upending No. 3 Sandburg in 4A, regional competition pretty much went as expected.

Sectional play, however, figures to be more unpredictable. It could all come to down to pitching — or who pitches when.

Will Oak Forest hand the ball to Louisville recruit Kyle Funkhouser on Wednesday on three days’ rest against Marian Catholic at the Lincoln-Way West Sectional, or save him for a potential Saturday sectional title game that may never arrive?

Will Marian Catholic, in turn, give the ball to Arizona recruit Brett Lilek on three days’ rest?

Will Marist turn to Mike Hearne on three days’ rest Wednesday against Providence at the Andrew Sectional after the Notre Dame-bound lefty blanked Andrew on Saturday? Providence coach Mark Smith has no such dilemma. Notre Dame recruits David Hearne (Mike’s cousin) and Zak Kutsulis will be ready.

No one is willing to tip his hand.

The exception is Homewood-Flossmoor coach Todd Sippel, who left no doubt as to who’ll be getting the ball Thursday when the Vikings meet No. 1 Lincoln-Way North.

“(Dan) Lietz is going for us,” Sippel said of his left-handed ace, who downed Sandburg 6-3 on Saturday. “We’re feeling pretty good after beating Sandburg.”

Lietz and Lincoln-Way North have a history. Lietz fired a two-hitter and struck out 14 to lead H-F to a 10-1 win April 9 over the Phoenix. The Vikings hit five home runs that game.

“They don’t have to be reminded,” North coach Joe Skarbek said of the loss to H-F. “We faced a kid (Lietz) who had his very best stuff that day. We didn’t have our top two pitchers going for us. They caught us at the perfect time.”

Skarbek wouldn’t divulge a starting pitcher. It’ll either be Mike Miller, who beat Lockport 4-0 on Saturday, or Jake McCabe.

At the Mount Carmel Sectional, St. Rita faces the host Caravan on Thursday. Mustangs ace Eddie De La Riva is done for the season, needing Tommy John surgery, and No. 2 Scott Thomas quit the team Friday over a lack of playing time. Mount Carmel, which owns a 2-1 edge vs. St. Rita this season, can go with either nine-game winner T.J. Laurisch or Jason Gasser.

St. Laurence, which meets Lyons on Wednesday at Mount Carmel, has a stable of powerful arms at its disposal. With Zack Lewis returning from a three-game suspension, that stable got more powerful.



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