(Lisbon) -- As the 2021 State Baseball Tournament looms, KMA Sports is preparing you for everything you need to know about the upcoming games involving KMAland teams, which leads to another edition of "Know Your Opponent."
The first trip takes us to Lisbon, where Coach John Tesensky's squad has leaned on a stout pitching staff heading into Monday's state quarterfinal against St. Albert.
The Lions (25-13) are state tournament bound for the eighth time in school history and the first time since 2018, thanks to a 9-2 win over Maquoketa Valley in a substate final on Tuesday.
"We are excited," Coach Tesensky said. "Anytime you have a chance to be one of the last eight teams, there's some excitement. We are a little on the younger side with zero seniors. But the boys have been playing great baseball, and it's a great time of year for them to play their best baseball."
Success is not foreign to the Lisbon program, but their youth did leave them with some questions entering the season.
"I can't say I expected us to be here," Tesensky said. "We had some youthful moments. Our season has certainly had ups and downs, but we've done a good job of responding and making the most of situations."
The offense has been churning lately with seven or more runs in the six of the last seven games, but it has been their pitching staff that has turned heads in their seven-game win streak, allowing only 10 runs and never more than two in a contest.
Sophomore Hunter Clark highlights the rotation with a 6-1 record, 1.06 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings while Tyson Scott (8-3, 2.62 ERA, 65 K), Luke Czarnecki (6-1, 2.94 ERA, 36 K), Cohen Kamaus (2-2, 3.32 ERA, 33 K) and Tyler Scott (1-0, 2.26 ERA, 19 K) have also stepped up.
"The strong point for us has been our pitching and defense," Tesensky said. "We have pitchers that can go out and throw strikes. We've also made plays behind them. That's been our mantra. It's not flashy, but it's back to the fundamental things of throwing the ball, fielding the ball and throwing strikes."
The Lions pitching staff will be put to the test on Monday when they face St. Albert (32-8).
St. Albert's offense has given headaches to plenty of pitching rotations in KMAland. The Falcons rank second statewide in batting average (.391) and third in RBI (333), led by the state's RBI leader -- Cy Patterson. Their video game-style numbers might scare some opposing coaches, but the Lions hope to do what got them to Carroll.
"They can definitely swing it," Tesensky said. "We are just going to try to minimize big innings, stick to our strengths, throw strikes and make plays behind our pitchers. That's the brand of baseball we've played, and it's worked for us. It's not broken, so we won't try to fix it, but we are definitely going to have to play a clean game."
Trevor Maeder will have the call of Lisbon/St. Albert Monday at 4:30 p.m. on KMA-FM 99.1. Click below to hear the full interview with Coach Tesensky.