Baseball: Lemont knocks out Lincoln-Way West
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media May 31, 2014 3:38PM
Lemont's Mike Papierski scores a run in the fourth inning during the class 3A Joliet Catholic Regional finals against Lincoln Way West, Saturday, May 31, 2014.| Raymundo Luna/ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2014 2:50PM
Early in Saturday’s Class 3A Joliet Catholic Regional championship, Lemont found itself in a position it’s unaccustomed to being in when Jake Latz is on the mound.
Latz, who remarkably hadn’t allowed an earned run all season, gave up two in the second inning as Lincoln-Way West jumped to an early lead.
For the Indians, it was time to battle back and support their ace.
“Jake has picked us up so many times this year,” Lemont’s Nick Wisz said. “It was time for us to help him out. We fought back.”
Wisz led the charge, driving in three runs. Latz, meanwhile, settled in to hold the Warriors without a hit over the final four innings as top-seeded Lemont earned a 6-2 victory.
The Indians (30-5) will take on Illiana Christian in Thursday’s Lincoln-Way West Sectional semifinals.
Adam Knerr came up with an RBI triple to the left-center field gap and scored on Jake Robbins’ grounder to give West (30-6) the early lead.
“At first it hit me hard,” Latz said. “But I just brushed it back. I knew it didn’t matter as long as we came back and I pitched well the rest of the way. I was throwing a lot of fastballs early and they were sitting on them. As the game went on, I got more comfortable throwing my other pitches and keeping them off balance.”
Latz (8-0) nearly was untouchable the rest of the way, striking out 11 over the final five innings. He struck out 13 in all, allowing four hits and one walk.
“We knew at some point Jake would have to deal with some adversity,” Lemont coach Brian Storako said. “He handled it well.”
The Indians did not have an extra-base hit, but pounded out eight singles and drew eight walks against five West pitchers.
Two walks and an error loaded the bases in the fourth and a run scored on a wild pitch before Wisz came through with a two-run single to give the Indians a 3-2 lead.
“It was a 3-1 pitch and (West reliever Ben Francis) threw me a fastball right down the middle,” Wisz said. “I just drove it up the middle.”
Lemont produced four straight two-out singles to push across two more runs in the fifth. Wisz added another RBI base hit and Eric Tucker drove in a run with a single.
Wisz’s RBI single in the sixth made it 6-2.
“We put ourselves in the drivers’ seat early,” West coach Jake Zajc said. “We got ourselves into trouble not throwing strikes and we weren’t able to get out of it. Our kids competed the whole way, though. It was a great year.”