One win from history: Athletics come back to beat Rebels, move closer to first state berth in co-op history

Published 4:55 pm Saturday, June 3, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

It wasn’t easy and it took a long time, but the Lyle-Pacelli baseball team is finally in the driver’s seat in the Section 1A title game.

The Athletics erased a first inning four-run deficit to beat Southland 5-4 in the Section 1A semifinals and they are now just one win away from their first state tournament berth in co-op history. L-P will play against Southland again in the Section 1A title game in Seltz Field at 5 p.m. Tuesday and it will take two losses to eliminate the Athletics.

“We’ve got one game left. The kids just fought hard today and I’m proud of them,” said L-P head coach Brock Meyer. “We keep falling behind and everything I’ve done hasn’t worked, but the kids keep fighting. We’re not hitting the ball real well, but we never gave up. Being down 4-0 against (Southland pitcher) Riley (Jax) is not an easy task. They manned up for sure.”

Email newsletter signup

L-P tied the game at 4-4 when Trey Anderson singled in a run in the bottom of the fifth and Landon Meyer hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the same frame. Anderson went two-for-three with two RBIs and two steals from the No. 9 spot in the batting order for L-P (21-1 overall).

“We’re against a rival to go to the section championship,” Anderson said. “This was something we really wanted and we’ve been looking forward to this the whole year. We’re not done yet. We’ve got to stay focused and we’ve got one more.”

Southland (15-3 overall) struck first off of L-P starting pitcher Isaac Nelsen as Jack Bruggeman tripled in three runs with a deep shot to right-center field and he scored on a single by Easton Meyer in the top of the first.

L-P sophomore Hunter VaDeer moved to the mound in the third inning and he struck out 12 in five shutout innings. The Rebels had a runner on second in the sixth and seventh innings, but VaDeer never faltered.

“I threw strikes and my curve ball was really good today,” VaDeer said. “I was pumped, I was shaking and it was so exciting. The adrenaline was flowing and we were all energetic.”

Meyer had started VaDeer on the mound in the last two tournament games, but he moved him to a relief spot on Saturday. VaDeer reached his pitch limit and will not be available to pitch on Tuesday, but Meyer knew had to be aggressive and go for the win on Saturday.

“That’s Hunter. The last two games were not him and today is more what he’s like,” Meyer said. “We won’t be able to use him on Tuesday, because we needed him today, but we’ve got Mac (Nelson), Isaac and Jake (Truckenmiller) for Tuesday.”

VaDeer and his teammates weren’t worried about trailing early against the Rebels as L-P had erased first inning holes in its last two playoff wins.

“I was confident all of the way,” VaDeer said. “We were down against Spring Grove in the first inning too and we came back. People came through in clutch situations. They told me to be ready and it was a little earlier than I thought I would be coming in, but we got it done.”

Southland (16-3 overall) kept its season alive when it beat Fillmore Central/Lanesboro 8-3.

In the other game played on Saturday, Hayfield (14-11 overall) was knocked off by FCL by a score of 10-2 in an elimination game. The Vikings had led 2-1 early on.

Southland 400  000  0  –  4  7  4

Lyle-Pacelli  120  020  X –   5  5  1

LP pitching: Isaac Nelsen, 2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 K, 2 HBP; Hunter VaDeer (W) 5 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 R, 12 K

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

Southland pitching: Riley Jax (L) 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 5 R, 4 ER, 7 K; Travis Kirtz 2/3 IP, BB, 0 R

Southland hitting: Gavin Nelsen, 1-for-3, R, HBP; Tyson Stevens, 2-for-3, R, SB; Travis Kirtz, 0-for-2, R, BB, HBP; Jack Bruggeman, 1-for-4, triple, 3 RBIs, R; Cohen Wiste, 0-for-4; Easton Meyer, 2-for-3, RBI, BB; Isaac Felten, 1-for-3; Maverick Hannah, 1-for-3