Final Countdown: LP advances to state title game

Published 5:33 pm Wednesday, June 14, 2023

ST. CLOUD – When the Lyle-Pacelli baseball team lost to Southland in Marcusen Park on May 9, head coach Brock Meyer told his team it would take 15 wins to win out and win a state title.

The No. 3 Athletics have been counting ever since then and they took their 14th straight game when they beat No. 2 New Ulm 6-1 in a Class A semifinal in Faber Field Wednesday.

“We’ve counted down (since Southland) and we haven’t lost since. We’ve got one game left and this is the most important one,” said LP sophomore third baseman Dane Schara, who was two-for-three with two RBIs. “We were a little nervous yesterday (in the quarterfinals) and today we came out more hot. We expected to win today and that’s what we’ve been doing all year.”

Email newsletter signup

LP head coach Brock Meyer wasn’t sure his countdown would lead to a state tournament run, but he knew it was well within the realm of possibility.

“It was more of a thing to get them going,” Meyer said. “I knew we could do it, but it was more about getting them to focus on the task at hand. They’re just winners.”

LP (24-1 overall) produced all of the offense it would need in the top of the third when it sent 11 hitters to the plate in a six-run rally. Cathedral (20-6 overall) committed four errors in that frame and LP took advantage as Schara had a two-run single that made it 3-0 and Trey Anderson added a two-run single to make it 5-0.

LP was able to hold that lead as its defense didn’t commit an error and Isaac Nelsen allowed just four hits and five strikeouts. Nelsen, who also walked four, was as unpredictable as a hurricane as he mixed his speeds, checked runners and stayed locked in throughout.

“My back was holding up great. I just had to do my job and throw strikes. The six run rally was a great relief, but I kind of had to refocus after that long inning,” Nelsen said. “My defense always does their job behind me. That’s normally what happens.”

Nelsen and sophomore Hunter VaDeer have given the Athletics a one-two pitching punch that has brought them to their first ever state title game appearance in program history. They have both been effective in their own ways.

“VaDeer gives me tips and I give him tips when I can,” Nelsen said. “He’s obviously a much better pitcher than me and I try to help out when I can.”

LP will likely turn to Mac Nelson in the title game against Fosston at CHS Field in St. Paul at 10 a.m. Friday.

Either way, Meyer likes his options.

“Isaac has been struggling with a back issue for a couple of weeks and he manned up today. He really did. I told him this was his last game of the year and to put everything you’ve got on it and he did,” Meyer said. “When you’ve got three, four or five guys with ERAs of one or below, it’s kind of nice. These guys have been amazing all year. Mac’s probably going to get the ball in the title game and I’ll be fine with putting in Jake (Truckenmiller) if we need him. I’m not worried, they’ll do their job.”

LP has come a long way this year and they’ve come even further in the last decade. Meyer has seen LP grow from a team that struggled to win games into a program that is now playing for the first boys state title in the co-op.

“Twelve years ago we had nine guys and we had foreign exchange students who had never played baseball before in starting spots. You’ve got to have players and a team to commit,” Meyer said. “I did it by myself for five years and that was difficult. To have assistant coaches, one who was a minor league player (Zach Schara) and another who was a college All-American (Jordan Hart), it’s nice to have that.”

Fosston (23-4 overall) beat Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa to advance to the state title game.

LP 0 0 6  0 0 0  0  –  6  9  0

NUC 0 0 1  0 0 0  0  –  1  4  5

LP pitching: Isaac Nelsen (W) 7 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, 1 ER, 5 K

LP hitting: Landon Meyer, 1-for-3, double, RBI, R, BB; Mac Nelson, 0-for-4; Hunter VaDeer, 0-for-4; Jake Truckenmiller, 2-for-4, RBI, R; Isaac Nelsen, 1-for-4, R; Dane Schara, 2-for-3, 2 RBIs, R; Logyn Brooks, 1-for-3, R; Jack Klingfurs, 1-for-3, R; Trey Anderson, 1-for-3, 2 RBIs