Lemont long has been regarded as one of the area’s top teams.
Playoff success, however, has eluded the Indians, who have won one regional title since 2011 and never have advanced to the state finals. Jake Latz intends on changing that this season.
The senior left-hander wants to end his high school career with a prolonged Class 3A playoff run.
“One of my biggest goals is to break through and show people Lemont is for real and we can win a state championship,” Latz said. “We want to be the first Lemont baseball team to win a state championship. I want this bad.”
Those are high aspirations, but the Indians, led by the powerful left arm of Latz, are in position to conquer such goals. The Indians were 23-2 through Monday.
Latz has been pretty much unhittable this spring, boasting a 5-0 record and 0.00 ERA through Monday. That’s right. The 6-2, 190-pounder has yet to allow an earned run spanning 30 innings, which has included 54 strikeouts and just six walks.
His ability to ramp up his fastball into the low 90s (mph), along with a wicked breaking ball and improving circle changeup, has transformed Latz into one of the state’s elite pitchers.
“Jake is pitching at a high level due to his mental approach and preparation between starts,” Lemont coach Brian Storako said. “He has been throwing all of his pitches for strikes, which is making him tough to hit.”
Latz consistently sits in the upper 80s low 90s, but he considers his curveball his out pitch.
“I have confidence in my curveball to throw it when it’s a 3-and-2 count,” Latz said.
Latz grew up playing for the Lemont Braves and Lemont Indians youth baseball programs. He’s been pitching since he was 8.
“I love pitching because you’re always in control,” he said. “You have the ball in your hand every play and control the pace of the game.”
Latz always was highly skilled, but it wasn’t until the summer before his sophomore season when he experienced a significant increase in pitch velocity. He went from crafty lefty to power pitcher.
“I went from 83-84 to 87-90 and I’ve been able to stay there,” he said. “It helps to have velocity but you have to be able to locate your pitches.”
Latz attended an LSU baseball camp in the fall of his junior year. He realized the school offered everything he wanted in a college, including an excellent business program.
“The coaches were just very professional, it was a great atmosphere and the baseball program has had great success,” Latz said. “They play in a great conference (SEC), and the business school is great. It’s a great fit.”
He’ll be joined at LSU with his catcher at Lemont, Mike Papierski.
Another Lemont alum, Ethan Pocic, recently completed his freshman season on the Tigers football team.
“Ethan really likes it,” Latz said. “It’s kind of crazy for three guys from Lemont playing sports at LSU. But they’re seeing the talent we have up here.”