The Lyle/Pacelli Athletics baseball team, the No. 2 seed in the Section 1A tournament took on defending Section and State Class A champion Hayfield in the winner’s bracket final at Dick Seltz Field at Riverland Community College on a cloudy, damp and cool Saturday afternoon, and Vikings pitchers Easton Frichter and Karver Heydt showed why Hayfield had a team ERA of 0.854 as they combined on a two-hit shutout in a 8-0 Vikings win.
Frichter, a left-hander, retired the first eight Lyle/Pacelli batters he faced while Hayfield tallied a run in the bottom of the first with a triple by catcher Nolan Klocke, who then scored on a wild pitch, and they added two more runs in the third on a two-run double from cleanup hitter Isaac Watson. The Athletics threatened to get back into the game in the top of the fourth when leadoff hitter Mac Nelson drew a walk and centerfielder Hunter VaDeer picked up one of the club’s two hits in the game to put runners on first and second with one out. The two runners moved ahead 90 feet on a balk called on Frichter, but he then induced a soft line drive into shallow center that was caught by shortstop Karver Heydt and a strikeout to end the threat. The Vikings then pulled away in the fifth inning with a RBI double from Heydt, a sacrifice fly from rightfielder Aidan Nelson, and back-to-back two-out RBI singles from third baseman Ethan Pack and first baseman Zander Jacobson. Hayfield scored another run with two outs in the sixth inning on a RBI single from Heydt to score second baseman Kobe Foster, who had singled and stolen second to open the inning.
Offensively for Lyle/Pacelli, Hunter VaDeer and leadoff hitter Landon Meyer tallied the only hits of the game, and Mac Nelson was tagged with the loss on the mound as he went the first 4 2/3rds innings and gave up seven runs, five earned, on eight hits, striking out three and walking four. Jack Klingfus pitched the last 1 1/3rd of an inning and gave up one run, which was earned, on two hits, striking out one and walking none.
The Athletics then had to take on Southeast Conference rival Southland in the elimination bracket final, as the Rebels came up with a run in the seventh inning to edge Rushford/Peterson 2-1 in the elimination bracket semi-finals. It was the rubber game for the season between the two squads, as Lyle/Pacelli was victorious twice in the regular season, but it was the Rebels sending twelve men to the plate and scoring seven runs in the bottom of the second inning on their way to a 10-4 win.
Lyle/Pacelli took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Landon Meyer led off with a double and scored on a one-out RBI single from Hunter VaDeer, but then in the bottom of the second, Southland designated hitter Connor Edland led off with a single and scored on a RBI double from catcher Jonas Wiste, who went to third and scored on a passed ball to put the Rebels in the lead 2-1. Lyle/Pacelli starter Hunter VaDeer then walked four batters in a row with one out, with second baseman Tyson Stevens, the first man to draw a base on balls later scoring on a wild pitch and first baseman Travis Kirtz later belted a two-RBI single making the score 5-1 at that point. Kirtz and third baseman Harrison Hanna later scored when Wiste reached on an error with two outs to make the score 7-1 in favor of the Rebels after two innings.
Lyle/Pacelli came back with a run in the top of the third when VaDeer led off the inning with a triple and scored on a RBI double from second baseman Dane Schara, but Southland answered back with three more runs of their own in the bottom of the inning when Tyson Stevens led off with a single. With one out, leadoff hitter Gavin Nelson singled and both men scored on a two-RBI triple off the bat of Hanna, who later scored on a balk to increase the Rebels’ lead to 10-2. The Athletics tallied two runs in the fourth inning when left fielder Trey Anderson led off with a single, shortstop Mac Nelson reached on a fielder’s choice and, with one out, a RBI single from VaDeer and a fielder’s choice from Schara cut the Southland lead to 10-4. The Rebels pitching staff, though, led by starting and winning pitcher Riley Jax and reliever Travis Kurtz, along with their defense were able to hold the Athletics at bay the rest of the game to earn the win.
Offensively for Lyle/Pacelli, Landon Meyer wound up going 3 for 3 with a walk, a double and a run scored, Hunter VaDeer was 3 for 4 with a triple, two singles, two RBI’s and a run scored, Dane Schara was 1 for 3 with a double and two RBI’s and Trey Anderson was 1 for 3 with a run scored. VaDeer was tagged with the loss on the mound as he went the first 1 2/3rds of an inning and gave up seven runs, five earned, on three hits, striking out three and walking six. Jack Klingfus was called on in relief for the second straight game and pitched the last 5 and 1/3rds, giving up three runs, all earned, on five hits, striking out one and walking one.
With the two losses, the Athletics finished their season with a record of 17-6, but it was a season that saw a young LP squad improve throughout, and it was also the 10th straight 10+ win season for the Lyle/Pacelli baseball program.
With the win, Southland moved back into the championship bracket where they will now take on Hayfield back at Dick Seltz Field on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m., with another game to follow if necessary.