By Dan McGrath
A break-even record is an unattainable goal for the Leo Lions baseball team due to a mid-season dry spell and a monstrously tough Catholic League schedule. But the progress the Lions have made in a major rebuilding year is undeniable.
And, with the incoming freshman class said to be replete with promising talent, the process should continue. More players will be a welcome development for coaches Mike Anderson ’91 and Anthony Lott ’92, because a lack of depth has been Leo’s biggest challenge this season, particularly on the pitching staff.
The Lions just don’t have the arms to manage a Catholic League schedule that has had them playing three and four games a week. They’re usually competitive for the first three or four innings, but when a high pitch count necessitates a pitching change, tired arms take over, with predictable results.
That said, back-to-back victories over St. Joe’s on May 13 and 15 gave the team its most productive week of the season, despite being down two starting players.
In a 7-4 win over the Chargers at Chicago State, sophomore Esai Jacinto inherited a 3-0 deficit and a bases-loaded, no-out predicament in the second inning. He pitched out of it, and allowed only one run the rest of the way as the Lions came from behind, sophomore Nate Sims’ two-run homer sparking the rally.
Leo’s bats came to life at St. Joe’s two days later. The Lions didn’t seem to mind playing in a steady drizzle. They erupted for 13 runs in the first two innings and went on to an 18-3 victory that was halted after five innings by the 10-run rule. Junior Evan Hill went the distance on the mound and banged out three hits for the winners. Sophomore Kyrent Cole also had three hits and junior P.J. Brown, freshman Shawn Phillips and Sims had two apiece as the Lions collected 21 hits over the abbreviated afternoon.
The Lions close out the Catholic League season with back-to-backs against Montini and De La Salle. They await their assignment to an IHSA Class-A regional, with regional play scheduled to begin the week of May 24.