LAKEVILLE, IN. – It has been 28 years since LaVille Baseball claimed an Indiana High School Athletic Association sectional championship.
In 1991, Joe Czarnecki and Brian Dill were a part of a large sophomore class that played Lancer Baseball. They finished the regular season at 6-19 and headed into the IHSAA state tournament having lost two times each to Triton and John Glenn.
The state tournament, then held at Plymouth High School, was single class and LaVille opened by eliminating a surprised Triton squad, 11-4. John Glenn then upset Plymouth in the other semifinal, which put the Lancers up against Glenn for the title.
The Lancers overcame regular-season losses of 12-0 and 6-3 to win the 1991 IHSAA Sectional Championship, 10-8.
Now, some 28 years later, the 2019 edition of LaVille Baseball strings together three solid sectional wins to earn the IHSAA Class 2A trophy.
Just last week, LaVille collected 15 hits in eliminating Prairie Heights, 10-0, to force a rematch of five days prior with Bremen. The Lions took a 5-4 decision in eight innings on May 20 and that made the IHSAA sectional semifinal mean just a little more. LaVille got on top early 14-1 before settling for a 17-7 victory and a shot at two-time defending sectional champion Eastside.
In the final game, LaVille’s defense and offense got off to a solid start. LaVille scored at least one run in the first three innings before holding the Blazers scoreless in a 7-0 championship game victory.
It might not be ironic that 28 years have passed since the last baseball sectional trophy made its way to Lakeville. The ironic part, however, is that the sons of Czarnecki and Dill are current sophomores on the LaVille Baseball team that won in 2019.
“It is surreal,” said Brian Dill. “We talked about it could be a possibility. Just knowing Leyton and Andrew are sophomores and the last time we won the baseball sectional both Joe and I were sophomores.
“Who would have envisioned that Drew would end up going to LaVille?” continued Brian. “The same school I went to in high school. It just seems like that part was meant to be. It’s crazy to think that after we won that sectional (in 1991) that our boys would be repeating it.”
As for Joe and Leyton Czarnecki, Joe says “We didn’t really discuss it. Leyton just kind of knew that we were the last class to win a baseball sectional.
“Leyton would see the picture up on the wall in the gym and would make fun of it,” continued Joe. “We were a pretty low seed. No one really expected us to win (in 1991). Then John Glenn upset Plymouth and we turned around and upset John Glenn. It was awesome. It wasn’t like now. With social media and all, there were a lot of people there. That place was packed at Plymouth. Now, with social media people know pretty quickly.”
Brian Dill reflected back on that 1991 season and how things finished out.
“It was awesome to win that sectional, especially after they (Triton and John Glenn) embarrassed us,” said Brian. “They both came in pretty confident, so that made it that much more gratifying. We only had one senior and most of that team was made up of sophomores and a few juniors. I remember Kenny Shirley pitching and he threw a lot of pitches. But he pitched the whole game.”
Joe also mentioned another ironic fact. It was during that 1991 game Brian played centerfield and he played second base, which ended up being where Leyton and Andrew played for the sectional championship in 2019.
“It’s crazy, Brian and I were talking about those were the positions we played (in 1991),” said Joe. “I would usually pitch or catch, but it was not my turn in rotation. I didn’t normally play second base, so it was crazy to see them do that.
“They are all such baseball nuts as a group,” said Joe of the present group of LaVille Baseball players. “It’s emotional as a parent. It’s how much it means to you and them at the same time that they are excelling.”
Andrew Dill, the current sophomore centerfielder, recalled that his dad and him had a conversation about, “how cool if we won our sophomore year since they were able to win sectional during their sophomore year.”
Leyton, on the other hand, said that he, “ didn’t realize it until my dad starting talking about it. We just never really talked about how they were sophomores and we are sophomores. But our team came with so much intensity . . . that is what got us past.”
Both Leyton and Andrew know this is a special time. Not just that both families were a part of LaVille Baseball history, but that there could be more.
“We have a true opportunity to go further,” said Leyton. “It feels pretty good right now, but want to move on. We know we have business to take care of Saturday (in the regional)”
Andrew said: “It feels like it was a coincident with both our dad’s winning the sectional and now us. Our parents are good competitors and we are such competitors.”
Brian gives the boys credit for their work ethic.
“With Leyton and Andrew, they are good kids and they work tails off in every sport they play,” said Brian. “I don’t know that I worked as hard when I was an athlete. They are good students and good kids. It will be pretty cool to be able to tell the story later. But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.
“It added to the nervousness of the game when you are thinking about it from the stands,” continued Brian. “We want the team and your kid to play to their best of ability. It definitely feels its extra special because of the kids. They handle themselves very well.”
Joe summed up the last couple of weeks: “Everything has been coming together. It’s pretty awesome. We are just so fired up for Leyton, Andrew and those boys. It just shows our community and kids and how much they get behind each other. How proud how they are to be a Lancer. We had former teammates from the 1991 team following during the game Monday on social media. People just don’t understand how it feels until your team wins a conference or a sectional. It is such a special group of boys.”