Lemont High School’s baseball team capped what already was the most successful season in school history in heartstopping fashion. Senior center fielder Ryan Folliard’s two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the seventh gave head coach Brian Storako’s Indians a 2-1 victory over Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in the 2014 IHSA Class 3A Baseball State Championship at Silver Cross Field in Joliet. The state title is the first in the program’s nearly 90-year history.
Lemont lefthander Jake Latz and Sacred Heart-Griffin’s Ben McElwee engaged in a tremendous pitcher’s duel, with neither allowing a run through six innings. Sacred Heart-Griffin (38-4) finally broke through with an unearned run in the top of the seventh. With one out, Cal Elvers reached on an error by junior third baseman Mike Gralla. Latz fanned the next batter, but a bad-hop single over the head of senior shortstop Mike Wisz left runners on first and second. Ryne Elvers followed with an RBI single to give the Cyclones a 1-0 advantage.
The situation looked bleak for the Indians after McElwee retired the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Gralla extended the game with a single to center field. Junior left fielder Jamie Glista hit a ground ball to second base that was bobbled, and he beat the throw to first base. Running for Gralla, senior Charlie Wright moved to third on a wild pitch. Senior designated hitter Danny Dowiarz followed with a walk to load the bases and set up the dramatic finish. Folliard’s line drive to center field scored Wright and Glista, setting off a joyous celebration in the middle of the diamond.
Latz was forced to pitch around trouble several times to keep the game scoreless. In the first inning, a fly ball from Sacred Heart-Griffin leadoff man Cole Daily fell for a double after being lost in the sun. However, Latz left him stranded at second after fanning two and inducing a groundout.
Latz retired 12 straight batters after the leadoff double, but issued two walks in the fifth. However, he escaped by striking out the side. In the sixth, he walked the leadoff batter, who eventually reached third after a stolen base and wild pitch. However, Latz again struck out the side to keep the game scoreless.
Latz went the distance, striking out 11 while allowing just three hits and the one unearned run. He improved to 10-0 on the season. McElwee suffered his first loss of the year after tossing 6.2 innings and allowing two unearned runs while scattering five hits, striking out four and walking three. He finished the year with a 9-1 mark.
Lemont (35-5) established a school single-season record for wins and captured its sixth straight South Suburban College-Blue Division title in 2014. Prior to this season, the most postseason success the Indians had seen was an IHSA Regional title; they not only won the program’s first state championship, but also collected the its first-ever IHSA Sectional and IHSA Super-Sectional crowns. When Latz (11th round) and senior catcher Mike Papierski (16th round) were drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft, they became the first Lemont baseball players to be drafted out of high school.
With the victory, the Indians captured the school’s first-ever team state championship in a boys’ sport. Lemont has had
three runner-up state finishes in boys’ sports; its football squad posted consecutive runner-up IHSA Class 6A finishes
in 2007 and 2008, and its boys’ track and field squad - featuring Nick Bromberek ‘00 as its only competitor - was
second in the 2000 IHSA Class AA State Finals. Its cheerleading squad has captured four IHSA Medium Division State
Championships in the last six years.
The baseball program is the school’s 11th sport to be represented in IHSA State Finals competition this year. The
girls’ bowling squad competed in the IHSA State Finals; the cheerleading squad won the IHSA Medium Division State Championship; the poms/dance team competed in the IHSA Class 2A Competitive Dance State Finals; sophomore Taylor Campos participated in the IHSA Class 2A Girls’ Cross Country State Finals; senior Bridget Lynn competed at the IHSA Class AA Girls’ Golf State Finals; junior Annette Lesnicki advanced to the IHSA Girls’ Swimming State Finals; senior Joe Ziebell and juniors Nathaniel Burner and Nick Urban all competed at the IHSA Boys’ Tennis State Finals; senior Lisa Gawron took part in the IHSA Girls’ Tennis State Finals; juniors Jacque Desmond (6th, pole vault) and Vika Marmaite (2nd, triple jump) each medaled at the IHSA Class 3A Girls’ Track and Field State Finals; and junior Jimmy Brennan and freshmen Egan Berta and Jake Kirkman each participated in the IHSA Class 2A Wrestling Individual State Finals.