116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
SOLON — To say Lisbon is young is an understatement.
The Lions don’t have a senior on their 15-man roster. Actually, Tyson and Tyler Scott are the only juniors. The inexperience led to some growing pains, but nothing Lisbon didn’t turn into a learning lesson.
“Baseball is such a good metaphor for things like life,” Tesensky said. “It’s often not what happens but how you respond.
“They’re young guys but they battled their heads off. When you get to this point of the year, it takes talent to get here, but the grit and mental toughness is what takes you to the next step.”
The next step is the Class 1A state tournament Monday in Carroll. Lisbon advanced with a 9-2 victory over Maquoketa Valley in the Substate 3 championship Tuesday night at Solon Recreation and Nature Area.
“They played a heck of a game,” Tesensky said. “They came ready to go. For the youth that we have, I’m just so proud.”
The Lions (25-13) earned their eighth state berth and first since a second-place finish in 2018.
“I’m really excited to see what this team can do,” Lisbon sophomore Landon Stolte said. “I think we’re playing our best baseball right now. We’re hitting the ball really well. We have a really sharp defense and our pitchers are at their best.”
Tyson Scott said the Lions are peaking at the right time. They might have flown under the radar without many upperclassmen.
“Most teams didn’t think we’d make it this far because we don’t have any seniors,” Tyson Scott said. “Most people just look at us like we’re young and we’re not going to be (good).”
Maquoketa Valley (22-8) defeated second-ranked North Linn in the district finals and took the lead in the first when Parker Sternhagen walked and scored on an error.
The Lions answered with a run in the bottom half. Luke Czarnecki rapped an RBI single that drove in Tyler Scott, who drew a leadoff walk.
As the Wildcats were unable to manage runs in the next five innings, the Lions pulled away with runs in every innings. Half of the numbers were straight and have were of the crooked variety. Lisbon was able to build an eight-run advantage with an inning left.
“It helps our pitchers,” Tesensky said. “It helps our defense. It takes a little bit of that edge off. If we make a mistake we still have a cushion.
“We haven’t had a game that consistent all year,” Tesensky said. “Better now than never.”
Like Tyler Scott did in the first, the Lions put leadoff batters on base five times, including four leadoff walks and one hit batsman. They capitalized by scoring each time.
“We were patient and getting our pitch to hit,” Tyson Scott said. “We were winning, so just wait for the right pitch and not chase anything.”
Tyson Scott walked twice to open innings. He scored on a Dillon Brayton groundout in the second to give Lisbon its first lead and then came in when Cohen Kamaus was plunked with the bases loaded in the fifth.
Stolte delivered a key shot in the fourth, connecting on a two-run double to center. Kaden Caspers added two hits and Alex Bock had an RBI with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
“One of our goals is to win the inning,” Stolte said. “It was really big.”
Hunter Clark earned the win. He pitched six innings, allowing just one run on two hits. Tyler Scott closed the game.
“We preach you have to get ahead of hitters,” Tesensky said. “Put them in counts that they don’t want to be in.”
T.J. Cook had two hits for the Wildcats. Tim Harmon drew a bases-loaded walk to bring in Mike Schaul in the seventh.