Tue May 22, 2012
By Sean Duncan
CHICAGO – Shane Brown and his Simeon teammates remembered last year’s Chicago Public League championship game all too well, when the high-powered Wolverines rolled in a tad overconfident and rolled out as city runner-up.
Brown wasn’t about to let that happen again.
This time around, Brown dominated Lane Tech, throwing a three-hitter with 13 strikeouts to lead Simeon a 2-1 victory before a packed crowd at the University of Illinois-Chicago on a chilly Monday night. The city championship was Simeon’s first since 2004 and the South Side school’s seventh overall.
“That was our whole drive,” said Brown of last year’s loss to Harlan in the championship game. “That’s what we worked hard for, all the blood, sweat and tears.”
The 5-foot-7 left-hander was untouchable early on, as he used an 83-85 mph fastball to strike out eight of the first nine batters he faced. Brown (7-1), an Oakland University recruit, carried a perfect game into the fifth inning before he issued his first walk, but catcher Blake Hickman quickly threw him out on a stolen base attempt. Then, sure-handed shortstop Marshawn Taylor dropped a popup, and Alex Sheehan reached second base on the error.
After a strikeout, Lane DH Mike Henry officially broke up the no-hitter with a single up the middle. Sheehan was waved around to score, but Louisville-bound centerfielder Corey Ray threw a perfect strike to get him at the plate.
Meanwhile, Simeon’s offense, which jumped on Lane (21-13) for two runs in the first inning, had gone cold. Lane junior right-hander Jack McLaughlin (7-6) settled down after giving up consecutive run-scoring doubles to Brown and Hickman in the first inning. McLaughlin allowed four hits, including three doubles, in the first two innings, but bounced back to yield three harmless singles the rest of the way. In all, he struck out five with no walks behind an 80-81 mph fastball and a 65-68 mph curveball.
Leading 2-0 and Brown working his magic on the mound, Simeon (27-7) looked like it was going to cruise into the city title this time around. Not quite. Brown walked the William Munoz to lead off the seventh. After a fly out, Cody Davis and Sheehan delivered consecutive singles, the second being an infield squibber.
Bases loaded, one out, Brown then uncorks a wild pitch to score Munoz, making it 2-1. With the Lane fans going wild and, seemingly, Simeon on the brink of letting this one slip away, Brown reached back and struck out the next two batters to secure the coveted city championship.
“I heard all the Lane Tech fans screaming,” said Brown. “I just told myself they were screaming for me.”
The title gave Simeon its first triple crown of winning the city championship in baseball, basketball and football in the same year.