Baseball: Lance Kiesewetter likes to be ‘the guy in a big game’ for Henry

Junior ace has thrown three complete games in Mallards’ run to state

Henry-Senachwine's Lance Kiesewetter lets go of a pitch during the Class 1A Supersectional game on Monday, May 29, 2023 at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.

During the Henry-Senachwine baseball team’s run to the IHSA Class 1A State Finals, junior Lance Kiesewetter has taken the mound in four of the Mallards’ five games.

It’s exactly where Kiesewetter wants to be.

“It brings me quite a lot of joy to know that I’m the guy in a big game and I’ll get it done,” Kiesewetter said.

Kiesewetter said his confidence that he’ll get the job done “comes from the guys.”

The confidence is warranted as he’s gotten the job done in dominant fashion during the postseason.

“It brings me quite a lot of joy to know that I’m the guy in a big game and I’ll get it done.”

—  Lance Kiesewetter, Henry-Senachwine junior

He’s pitched complete games in the regional championship, sectional semifinals and the supersectional.

Kiesewetter has allowed two runs on 16 hits with 37 strikeouts and six walks in 23 1/3 innings.

“I’ve been able to mix it up really well, keep everyone off balance and just throw,” said Kiesewetter, who is 10-1 on the season with a 1.33 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 63 innings.

Henry coach Max Kirbach said working with assistant coach Teddy Rowe, who pitched at the University of Illinois, has helped Kiesewetter this season.

“[Rowe] has helped his mental game a little bit, and Lance has really come around in terms of knowing when to pitch certain pitches in certain locations and know when to pump it up and when to ease it back and let his defense play a part,” Kirbach said. “That’s kept his pitch count down to manageable situations so we don’t have to take him out after five or six innings.”

Kirbach said Kiesewetter gives the team confidence whenever he’s on the mound, but he brings more to the Mallards than just pitching skills.

“Obviously, he’s a great pitcher, but he’s also a huge team leader, and that’s a huge part,” Kirbach said. “He gets everybody going. It’s phenomenal what he’s been doing.”

After throwing more than 100 pitches in Monday’s 3-2 win over Milford in the Illinois Wesleyan Supersectional, Kirbach won’t be eligible to pitch in a state semifinal against Newman at noon Friday at Dozer Park in Peoria.

He will, however, be able to pitch Saturday in either the third-place game at 9 a.m. or the championship game at 11:30 a.m.

Kiesewetter still will be able to contribute offensively. He’s hitting .400 with four home runs, nine doubles, 29 RBIs and 22 runs scored.

While Kiesewetter has been dominant for the Mallards, No. 2 pitcher Mason Johnson has been strong as well.

Johnson has thrown 11 2/3 innings, giving up one unearned run on 10 hits while striking out 12 batters and walking three.

He tossed a complete game in Henry’s 6-1 win over Heyworth in the sectional final, allowing one unearned run on seven hits with six strikeouts and one walk.

In the postseason, the Mallards have allowed four runs in five games, shutting out two teams and allowing more than one run only once.

“Getting to this level, you always like to have two or three guys,” Kirbach said. “You have to have the pitching. I think we’ve proven that. We haven’t given up a lot of runs, and that’s been a big part of our success.”