Disabato: Lemont accomplishes dream with never-say-die attitude

SHARE Disabato: Lemont accomplishes dream with never-say-die attitude
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Trailing 1-0 and with two outs and no one on base against Sacred Heart-Griffin, Lemont’s dreams of a Class 3A state championship were on life support Saturday at Joliet’s Silver Cross Field.

Or so it appeared.

Teams with championship aspirations don’t own a white flag or surrender before the final out is recorded.

They fight till the very end.

Mike Gralla kept the dream alive with a two-out single. A routine grounder by Jamie Glista that should have ended the game instead was booted by Sacred Heart-Griffin for an error and gave Lemont second life.

Danny Dowiarz then walked to load the bases for Ryan Folliard, who was 0-for-3 as he stood in the batter’s box with the game on the line — something he never expected.

“When I was coming in to the dugout in the seventh inning and we were down 1-0, I was thinking to myself that I had five batters in front of me and I’ll never get a chance,” said Folliard, laughing. “I’m laying against the bench and the second baseman makes an error and now I’m in the hole. I’m thinking, I’m going to get a chance. It’s every kid’s dream.”

Receiving a chance to win the game is one thing. Delivering is quite another.

Folliard drilled a 2-and-1 pitch to center field, scoring pinch-runner Charlie Wright and Jamie Glista for a 2-1 walk-off victory. In a matter of minutes, Lemont went from 3A runner-up to state champions.

“My mouth was dry and I was licking my lips,” said Folliard, when asked if he was nervous. “I was ready. When I made contact, right off the bat, I lost my mind. To be able to come through in that situation … it’s unbelievable.”

Folliard stole the spotlight, but others certainly shared in the state championship victory. Look no further than Gralla, whose error at third base in the seventh inning allowed Sacred Heart-Griffin to grab a 1-0 lead.

However, it was Gralla who stepped up and kept the Indians rally alive with his two-out single in the seventh.

“I had to make up for my error in the field,” Gralla said. “Their pitcher left a pitch up and I went after it. The rest of the guys behind me came through.”

The performance by pitcher Jake Latz, though, was the main reason Lemont was in position to mount a rally. The senior left-hander allowed three hits, walked three and struck out 11 in a masterful performance. The only run he surrendered was unearned.

“We’ve been talking about it all year, when adversity hits, you’ve go to have someone step up,” said Latz, who improved to 10-0. “I was a little nervous when we had two outs and no one on in the seventh inning. The hit by Ryan picked us up. A lot of people doubted us. We’ve proved Lemont is a real team.”

Not only real, but a state champion.

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