"Sometimes one spark can ignite a good-hitting team," Lyons junior second baseman Brian Hochberg said Monday.
Hochberg had just provided such a spark to help the No. 1 Lions beat Morton 13-2 in six innings in the Lyons regional opener in LaGrange.
Lyons (29-4) led only 2-1 when No. 9 hitter Hochberg led off the fifth with a home run. That ignited an eight-run inning that turned a close game into a rout.
"Hochberg's home run was a good quick answer to the homer that their pitcher [Luke Gregerson] hit to make the score 2-1 in the fourth inning," Lyons coach George Ushela said. "Gregerson's homer seemed to take momentum to them. Brian's homer brought momentum back to us."
Lyons had 12 hits in the game, eight for extra bases. Brian Davis hit a two-run homer in the eight-run fifth. Kevin Brandush had a three-run homer in the sixth. Matt Bolt, Chris Green, Kevin Diete, Dan Bocian and Brandush each doubled.
Sophomore Jordan Baughman's sharp-biting curveball helped him strike out eight batters and limit Morton (17-17) to five hits. Morton committed five errors, two in the fifth when Lyons sent 12 men to bat and made seven hits.
Lyons plays Saturday in the regional title game against the winner of Tuesday's game between Nazareth and Riverside-Brookfield.
Proviso East 3, De La Salle 2: After a disappointing year, the Proviso East baseball team was anxious for a second chancethe Class AA playoffs.
"It was a tough year for us," Proviso East coach Glenn Lid said. "But I told our kids records don't really matter in the playoffs."
The Pirates ignored their 8-25 regular-season record as they defeated No. 8 De La Salle in the regional opener at St. Ignatius.
"It was like two games," Lid said. "Up to the third inning they beat us, after the third inning we beat them."
The Meteors (25-8) scored an unearned run in the first and went ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the second on a RBI single by Brian Bogusevic.
Proviso East answered in the top of the fourth. After two quick outs, Jesse Washington singled, Danny Chandler doubled and Tom Hogan tripled in two runs. Terry Love's double scored Hogan to put the Pirates up for good.
Pitcher Byron Banks threw a three-hitter with nine strikeouts to earn the win and run his regional record to 4-0 over the last two years.
"After we got the lead, Byron just held on and our infield played great defense," Lid said.
In the De La Salle fifth with two on and two out, Proviso East second baseman Lawrence Frierson snared a bouncer up the middle and forced the runner at second to end the threat.