First things first: Athletics bring home their first ever Section 1A title

Published 10:04 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023

It’s been a long road to the top for the Lyle-Pacelli baseball team, but a combination of pitching depth, timely hitting and clutch play finally took them over the top when they earned their first ever state tournament berth in co-op history after they wrapped up the Section 1A title with an 11-1 win over Southland in six innings Tuesday in Seltz Field.

The Athletics (22-1 overall) have been knocking on the door in Section 1A for at least a decade and this was the first time L-P was in the winner’s circle in the Section 1A finals.

“I’ve been in (Southland’s) spot at least four times. I know how they feel. I knew if we could get up early, we’d have a good shot in this one,” L-P head coach Brock Meyer said. “Our situational hitting was a lot better this year. We probably haven’t had one of our better years hitting the ball with average, but in situations our guys have done what they needed to do to move the runner or get a run in.”

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Neither team recorded a hit in the first two innings, but the Athletics broke the ice in the bottom of the third inning when Landon Meyer singled in a run. L-P lost some momentum when the Rebels turned a double play to end a would-be rally, but the Athletics bounced back in the fourth when Isaac Nelsen doubled in two runs.

Nelsen, a junior who was battling an injury, drove in four runs, while also allowing one run in four innings to score the mound win for L-P.

“I think that might have been the best win I’ve ever been part of. We put up zeros in the first two innings, but after that we came ready to play. We hit the ball hard, we drew walks and we ran the bases,” Nelsen said. “With the three ribs out of place, it’s not fun to pitch. I give a big thanks to Bollingberg Chiropractic. They helped me and they fixed me up so I could pitch. I was able to do my job because of them.”

L-P pushed the lead to 9-1 with five runs in the fifth inning and it never looked back. 

Sophomore catcher Logyn Brooks had another big day at the plate for L-P as he went two-for-two with a double and two RBIs. His bat has heated up for the Athletics, which has now won 12 straight games.

“Something has clicked in me,” Brooks said. “I’ve gotten comfortable. All of our pitchers have been throwing accurately when I’m catching.”

The state tournament berth is a big one for L-P senior starters Trey Anderson, Mac Nelson, Jake Truckenmiller, who were hoping to finally break through and deliver the first ever boys state tournament appearance for the Athletics  co-op. Nelson and Truckenmiler each had older sisters on the L-P girls basketball team that won a state title in 2018.

“I hear about it all the time at the dinner table. I’ll say that I scored 1,000 points and my sister (Kendal) will say that she won state. I’ll get some bragging rights now and my dad’s been talking about this for years. It’s great,” Truckenmiller said. “I’m so happy to compete with these guys. We always had the goal to get to state and we always ended up on the other side of this game in Southland’s spot. We finally got over the hump and it feels amazing.” 

Since it had to play an extra game last Saturday, the Rebels (16-4 overall) were low on pitching options on Tuesday. Southland head coach Scott Koenigs went with catcher Jonas Wiste on the mound, who allowed just one run in the first three innings before errors started to slow down the Rebels.

“We didn’t really know what to expect. Jonas has only thrown one inning all year because he’s our starting catcher,” Koenigs said. “He was a little nervous and you could tell. He has a filthy slider and he was trying to guide it instead of throw it. Hopefully we can develop some more pitchers for next year, because that’s the difference between us and them. I think next year is going to be our year.”

The Class A quarterfinals will be held at Joe Faber Field in St. Cloud on June 13. Game times are at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.

It will be a tournament that Meyer, a Lyle grad himself, and his Athletics relish as it has been a long time coming.

“Both schools are well represented on this team and I have a couple of sons on the team,” Meyer said. “That makes it all the more special. It was a fun tournament for sure.”

Southland 000  010  –  1    2  4

Lyle-Pacelli 001  352  –  11  8  0

L-P pitching: Isaac Nelsen (W) 4 IP, 1 H, 6 BB, 1 ER, 2 K; Jack Truckenmiller, 2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 2 K

L-P hitting: Landon Meyer, 1-for-4, RBI; Mac Nelson, 0-for-2, 2 R, 2 BBs; Hunter VaDeer, 1-for-1, RBI, 2 R, 2 HBP, BB; Isaac Nelsen, 3-for-4, 4 RBIs, 2 R; Dane Schara, 0-for-3, R; Logyn Brooks, 2-for-2, double, 2 RBIs, 2 R, HBP; Jack Klingfus, 1-for-1, RBI; Trey Anderson, 0-for-2, HBP

Southland pitching: Jonas Wiste (L) 3 1/3 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 HBP; Tyson Stevens, 2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 7 R, 4 ER, 3 HBP

Southland hitting: Gavin Nelsen, 0-for-2, BB; Tyson Stevens, 1-for-3, RBI; Travis Kirtz, 0-for-3; Jack Bruggeman, 0-for-3; Wiste, 0-for-2, BB, SB; Riley Jax, 0-for-2, BB, SB; Easton Meyer, 0-for-2, BB; Isaac Felten, 1-for-2, R, BB; Maverick Hannah, 2 BBs