LYONS — The Lyons baseball team is surprising itself less and less as the season winds down.
They may not be a team with a rich history of success, but the Lions at the same time might not be all too concerned about the past. Led by a solid group that consists mostly of juniors, the Class 2A team is forging its own path.
Tuesday, at home against the defending 2A champion Dawson School, Justin Lear and his teammates may have fully realized their potential. It wasn't pretty, not with the temperatures dipping or the sleet peppering the field the way it was, but LHS broke through late for an 8-4 win that brought along with it the Mile High League regular season title.
Leading 5-4 into the bottom of the sixth, Lyons (14-1) was able to give Lear a little more cushion to work with for a save thanks to a two-run single by wrestling state champion Keegan Bean, a huge base knock to center field with two outs that was exactly the 'push forward' kind of play the Lions have been making all year.
"That's just we've done, that's what we do. If they hurt us one inning, we're going to come back and get you the next," said Lyons head coach Ken Rosales, whose team was seventh in Tuesday's RPI and will likely host a district tournament with the league title. "They play solid and they play with each other. They don't get their heads down.
"I keep having to tell them, you have to realize how good you are. They are a good team, but we have to keep going out and play the games. This win was huge, and they know they are not going to get any easier."
The schedule for the Lions has certainly toughened up, but Rosales' team has answered the call with 12 straight wins. That stretch includes a sweep of Denver Christian and victories over Highland and Dayspring Christian.
But Tuesday's game might be the signature win of the year, Lear said, if more for the response to the couple of times the Mustangs got back in the game than anything.
Lyons led 2-0 and 5-2, but Dawson (8-6) kept finding ways to push across enough runs to make it tight. Lyons starter Austen Clark labored through five innings with the 5-4 lead, and Lear worked out of a jam in the sixth by striking out three straight batters after allowing two to reach.
Clark had a big two-run double to go along with the pitching victory and Lear had a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning and doubled and scored in the sixth.
"Winning is one thing, but when I am out here, having fun is the biggest thing," Lear said. "We have a group that's played together since we were freshmen, and we've really bonded this year and I think that's what makes us great. This one feels good."
On Thursday, Dawson (No. 22 RPI) will try and get back on track at home against Jefferson, while Lyons hosts Front Range Christian.
Lyons 8, Dawson School 4
Dawson School020 020 0 — 4 5 4
Lyons200 303 x — 8 7 1
Dawson School hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Day 2-0-0-0, McClellan 4-0-1-2, Heroux 3-0-0-0, Clemente 3-0-1-0, Jones 2-0-0-0, Fulkerson 3-1-2-0, Dodge 3-1-1-0, Gayten-Cerna 3-1-0-0, Muniz 3-1-1-0. Totals 26-4-6-2. 2B —Clemente.
Lyons hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Owens 4-10-0, Reeves 3-0-1-0, Kelly 2-1-1-0, Lear 3-2-1-1, Mccain 3-0-1-0, Bean 4-0-2-3, Klopsen 2-3-1-0, Brett 3-0-0-0, Clark 4-1-4-4. 2B — Lear, Clark. SB —Kelly, Lear.
Dawson School pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Fulkerson 6-8-8-5-0-0.
Lyons pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Lear 2-1-0-0-1-5, Clark 5-3-4-0-2-2.