EAST LANSING – Last year, Nathan Lehnert was playing eighth-grade baseball. Friday, he pitched his team into a state championship.
Lenhart scattered five singles over six innings and got out of two bases-loaded jams, propelling Portland St. Patrick to a 2-0 Division 4 semifinal win over Gaylord St. Mary.
It was a good thing Lehnert was seemingly oblivious to how much power St. Mary wielded. The Snowbirds ( 37-2-1) had not been shut out all season and averaged nearly 11 runs per game, outscoring postseason opponents 72-14.
“I don’t even know what their other scores were. I just went at it like any other game and we tried our best,” the 15-year-old righthander said. “I had prepped the night before – mentally prepared — and I knew my defense behind me could help back me up.”
Travis Moyer was one Shamrock who had Lehnert’s back. Not only was Moyer solid at third base, he earned the save by pitching the seventh. Moyer, St. Patrick’s senior ace who will get the start Saturday, said his younger teammate had the stuff Friday.
“He did a wonderful job for us, he did all anyone could ask for,” Moyer said. “He had some tough spots with bases loaded a couple of times, but he came up big. He got ground balls and we made the outs and we didn’t give up any runs.”
“All he’s done as a freshman is be 8-0 with an ERA of about 1,” St. Patrick coach Bryan Scheurer said. “He had some jitters early, a couple of bases-loaded jams, but continued to get stronger as the game went on. I’m proud of that young man.”
Although St. Mary loaded the sacks in both the second and third innings, they couldn’t push any runs across. Shortstop Brandon Scheurer completed a force play in the second and Moyer snared a line drive one inning later.
“(Lehnert) kept us off-balance, and when we hit the ball, they made some phenomenal plays, so what do you do? There were a couple of diving catches there, and that’s baseball, that was a great game. I hope everybody had fun watching it,” St. Mary coach Matt Nowicki said.
St. Patrick (23-7) scored in the top of the first inning when Brendan Schrauben singled to left, stole second, went to third base on a groundout. He was bunted home by Dan Mackowiak.
The bottom of the Shamrocks’ order pushed across another run in the fifth, with Graham Smith singling and stealing second. Scheurer’s single to center plated Smith.