Lyle/Pacelli Athletics baseball team downs United South Central 5-3 in Section 1A winners’ bracket semifinals Monday

The Lyle/Pacelli Athletics baseball team, the No. 1 seed in the Section 1A baseball tournament were looking to advance to the winners bracket final for the second time in three years Monday versus No. 4 seed United South Central, and in a matchup of state-ranked teams and conference champions, it was the Athletics edging the Rebels 5-3.

USC took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when pitcher Taybor Conley reached on a one-out infield single, one of only two hits in the game for the Rebels, stole second and third and scored on a bases-loaded walk.  The Athletics answered in the bottom of the second when leadoff hitter Jake Truckenmiller walked, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a one-out double to right center off the bat of second baseman Dane Schara.

LP increased their lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning when leadoff hitter Hunter VaDeer singled, stole second and went to third on a single from Truckenmiller.  After USC starting pitcher Taybor Conley retired the next two hitters on a strikeout and a grounder to third, sophomore catcher Logyn Brooks laced a liner to left to score VaDeer, and Truckenmiller then scored when the ball eluded Rebel leftfielder Zaden Schott.

USC crept back within a run at 3-2 in the top of the fifth when Conley struck out but reached on a wild pitch.  He went to second on another wild pitch, and when a walk and a hit batsman loaded the bases, third baseman Kolt Bullerman laid down a perfect squeeze bunt up the first base line to score Conley from third.  Lyle/Pacelli answered in the bottom half of the inning when, with one out, leadoff hitter Landon Meyer walked and scored a batter later when shortstop Mac Nelson tripled to make the score 4-2.

The Athletics then used a two-out rally to score another run in the sixth when third baseman Jack Klingfus walked, left fielder Trey Anderson singled, and Meyer then reached on an error, scoring Klingfus from third to give LP at 5-2 lead.  USC, 15-3 on the season and champions of the Gopher Conference would not go quietly, however, as shortstop Nick Bushlack led off the top of the seventh with a triple, and he later scored on an RBI groundout from Zale Bushlack to cut Lyle/Pacelli’s lead to 5-3.  With two outs, Athletics reliever Isaac Nelson then hit the next batter with a pitch, but he got Kolt Bullerman to pop out to first baseman Landon Meyer to end the threat and the game.

Offenseively for Lyle/Pacelli, Mac Nelson was 1 for 4 with his RBI triple, Hunter VaDeer and Jake Truckenmiller both were 1 for 2 with each player scoring a run, Dane Schara was 1 for 3 with his RBI double, Logyn Brooks went 1 for 3 with an RBI single, and Trey Anderson was 1 for 3 in the win.

Hunter VaDeer got the start on the mound for the Athletics and earned the win by pitching the first five innings and giving up two runs, both earned, on only one hit, striking out eight, walking eight and hitting two batters.  Isaac Nelsen pitched two innings for his first save of the season as he gave up one run, which was earned, on one hit, striking out three, walking none and hitting one batter.

With the win, their 10th in a row, Lyle/Pacelli is now 20-1 on the season, and the Athletics will meet Southland in the winners bracket final at Dick Seltz Field at noon on Saturday.  The Rebels, the No. 2 seed, advanced with a heart-stopping 9-8, come-from-behind win against No. 6 seed Hayfield in the bottom of the seventh inning.  You’ll hear the game live on AM 1480 KAUS, with the pre-game show getting underway at 11:50 a.m. Saturday morning.  The winner of the game would then have to lose twice for another team to advance to the State Class A baseball tournament, while the loser will play either Hayfield, who rebounded to knock off Spring Grove by a score of 12-8 in the second round of the elimination bracket, or No. 3 seed Fillmore Central/Lanesboro, who defeated USC 12-8 to stay alive Monday night.  That game will come your way at 2:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon on KAUS, with the winner advancing back into the championship bracket back at Riverland at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 6th.