Fresh off a hard-fought, 4-3 win over Hinckley/Finlayson in the State Class A quarterfinals at Joe Faber Field in St. Cloud Tuesday, the Lyle/Pacelli Athletics baseball team, the No. 3 seed in the tournament was looking for win number 13 in a row Wednesday to put themselves in the state championship game in their first-ever trip to the state tournament as the Lyle/Pacelli co-op. Standing in their way were the No. 2 seeded and Section 2 champion New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds, and a six-run third inning that saw 11 Athletics come to the plate, plus the strong pitching of junior Isaac Nelsen proved to be the difference in a 6-1 Lyle/Pacelli win.
The game was scoreless heading into the top of the third inning when leadoff hitter Landon Meyer reached via a Greyhound error at second base. Meyer stole second, and then went to third when centerfielder Hunter VaDeer lofted a sacrifice fly to right field for the second out. Two-out hitting eluded the Athletics for the most part in their quarterfinal win, but Wednesday, cleanup hitter Jake Truckenmiller belted the first of three crucial two-out hits as he ripped a grounder past Greyhound third baseman Caleb Forstner to score Meyer and put LP ahead, 1-0. Isaac Nelsen then reached on another critical error for New Ulm Cathedral at second base, and second baseman Dane Schara then made the score 3-0 when he belted a two-run single, scoring Truckenmiller and Nelsen, who had stolen second base. Logyn Brooks and Jack Klingfus kept the line moving with back-to-back singles, and left fielder Trey Anderson came up with another huge two-out hit for the Athletics as his two-RBI single, scored Schara and Brooks to make the score 5-0. Meyer then came up for the second time in the inning and promptly added an RBI single to score Klingfus as 11 men came to the plate in the inning and Lyle/Pacelli held a 6-0 lead after two and a half innings of play.
New Ulm Cathedral countered with what would turn out to be their only run of the game in the bottom half of the inning with a walk, a single and a sacrifice fly, but Colin Anderson, who came into pitch for the Greyhounds with two out in the top of the third was stranded at second base after his single when Athletics starter Isaac Nelsen got right fielder Kyle Seidl to pop up to shortstop Mac Nelson, and he then caught left fielder Levi Franta looking on strikes to end the inning. While Anderson held Lyle/Pacelli to only two hits the rest of the way, Nelsen was able to counter as he escaped a second and third, two-out jam in the bottom of the fourth inning by getting Caleb Forstner to ground out to third, and although a two-out walk put runners on first and second in the bottom of the sixth, Nelsen got Matt Seidl to fly out to centerfielder Hunter VaDeer to get out of the inning. He then retired the side in order in the seventh inning to seal the win, the first time the Greyhounds had went out in order since the first inning.
Offensively for Lyle/Pacelli, Jake Truckenmiller wound up going 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored, Isaac Nelsen was 1 for 4 with a run scored, Dane Schara was 2 for 3 with two RBI’s and a run scored, Logyn Brooks was 1 for 3 with a run scored, Jack Klingfus went 1 for 3 with a run scored, Trey Anderson was 1 for 3 with his two RBI single and a run scored as hitters 6 through 9 for the Athletics accounted for five of the team’s nine hits, four runs knocked in and three more scored, and Landon Meyer was 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored.
Nelsen now has a save and a win on the mound in the state tournament for Lyle/Pacelli as he went the distance and gave up just the one run, which was earned, on four hits, all singles, striking out five and walking three.
With the win, the Athletics are now 24-1 on the season, and they will play the Fosston Greyhounds, the champions of Section 8A and the No. 5 seed for the state title at CHS Field in downtown St. Paul Friday morning at 10 a.m. The Greyhounds defeated No. 4 seed Legacy Christian Academy 11-1 in 6 innings in the quarterfinals, and they felled unseeded Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa in the semifinals Wednesday by a score of 7-5. You’ll hear the game Friday morning on AM 1480 KAUS, with the pre-game show coming your way at 9:50 a.m.