PORTAGE | Taylor Lehnert may have had a rocky start in the first inning, but the Lake Central pitcher had no problem locking into a zone on the mound and pitching through whatever Portage put in front of him in the batter's box.
Lehnert gave up two runs on four hits and struck out 12 as Times No. 2 Lake Central defeated No. 3 Portage 4-2 in Duneland Athletic Conference action.
After giving up a run in the first inning, Lehnert settled down a bit, amassing six strikeouts through the first and third innings before giving up a solo home run to Dave Jercha in the fourth frame.
However, the homer didn't faze Lehnert, as he fanned two of the next three batters to end the inning.
"I just kept throwing," Lehnert said of his strategy after the home run. "I just kept pounding the zone. That's a good hitting team. They can hit, and I just had to keep throwing strikes."
While Lehnert was very effective on the mound, perhaps the biggest play of the game came away from it in the sixth inning. After Lehnert gave up a leadoff double to Justin Newcomb and hit Gabe Acevedo with a pitch, he picked off Newcomb at second base and forced Jercha to ground into an inning-ending double play, ending the only late threat Portage (16-4, 7-4 DAC) mustered.
"I guess we got caught sleeping on the bases," Portage coach Tim Pirowski said. "In that situation, that was a total momentum change. Who knows what happens that inning?"
L.C. (19-1, 10-1) scored two runs in the first inning when Ryan Pachowicz connected on a two-run single to plate Nick Kellams and Austen Wagner.
L.C. would end up with seven hits, but for one of the most potent offensive teams in the area, that performance left something to be desired for coach Jeff Sandor.
"I don't like the way we competed," Sandor said, adding his disappointment with striking out seven times. "There's nothing good about that. You've got to make them make 21 outs."