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Dueling Aces: Athletics hold off Rebels in baseball showdown

Apr. 23—Hits were hard to come by and runs were even tougher to find in a rematch of last year's Section 1A baseball championship, and Lyle-Pacelli had a couple of more breaks as it prevailed 2-0 over Southland in Marcusen Park Tuesday.

Each team had its ace on the hill as Hunter VaDeer struck out 11 in five hitless innings for L-P (5-0 overall) and Riley Jax allowed one earned run while striking out ten in seven innings of work for the Rebels.

"Those are the two best pitchers in the conference," Southland head coach Scott Koenigs said. "They're both gritty pitchers and they're both strikeout guys. They showed a lot today. I thought Riley pitched a good game and he controlled things, just like Hunter did. Hunter's slider was filthy today. It was really good. I've seen a lot of DI guys in my day and they didn't have a slider that nice. When you're throwing 90 and you have a slider like that, it's hard to hit."

VaDeer walked the first three hitters he faced, but he struck out the next two batters and Southland's Gavin Nelsen was thrown out at home while trying to score on a wild pitch with two outs.

"Hunter can walk three and then strike out three and it's getting to be more of a routine than I'd like it to be, but you've got to stick with him because once he gets going, they aren't gonna touch him," L-P head coach Brock Meyer said. "Riley pitched really well (for Southland). He throws a lot of strikes and he's tough, especially for some of our younger kids who haven't seen a pitcher like that before."

L-P scored its first run in the bottom of the third when Grady Meyer reached on an error and scored on another Southland error. The Athletics went up 2-0 in the fourth when Dane Schara walked and scored on a wild pitch after a double by Isaac Small.

VaDeer and Isaac Nelsen, who pitched a two-inning save, are both big returnees for L-P, but the team is still working in a new cast of supporters.

"Grady Meyer and Hunter Wollenburg are stepping into pretty big roles and it's huge having those guys," VaDeer said. "Grady got on and scored a run and that was huge today."

VaDeer had the Southland game circled on his calendar since the start of the season, and he was able to shake off an illness to give his team five strong innings.

"I've been sick all week, but I just had to give us a chance to win. In the end I did that," said VaDeer. "This game was huge and we've been waiting for it all year. We mentally prepared for it all week. We've been ready."

Southland (4-1 overall) stranded multiple runners in scoring position as they didn't get their first and only hit until Easton Meyer doubled in the sixth inning. Southland's Tyson Stevens, who went 0-for-2 with a walk, said it was tough to get a rhythm against VaDeer.

"He throws a lot of nasty pitches and he throws hard too," Stevens said. "Knowing you're going up against a DI guy is kind of nerve racking, but you've just got to bring your best."

Southland 000 000 0 — 0 1 2

Lyle-Pacelli 001 100 X — 2 2 0

L-P pitching: Hunter VaDeer (W) 5 IP, 7 BB, 0 R, 11 K; Isaac Nelsen (S) 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 K

L-P hitting: Landon Meyer, 1-for-3; Logyn Brooks, 0-for-1, BB; VaDeer, 0-for-2, BB; Nelsen, 0-for-1, 2 BBs; Dane Schara, 0-for-2, R, BB; Jack Klingfus, 0-for-3; Isaac Small, 1-for-3, double; Hunter Wollenburg, 0-for-3; Grady Meyer, 0-for-2, R

Southland pitching: Riley Jax (W) 7 IP, 2 H, 5 BB, 2 R, 1 ER, 10 K

Southland hitting: Gavin Nelsen, 0-for-3, BB; Tyson Stevens, 0-for-2, BB; Travis Kirtz, 0-for-1, 2 BBs; Jonas Wiste, 0-for-3; Austin Swenson, 0-for-2, BB; Cole Miller, 0-for-3; Easton Meyer, 1-for-3, double; Beau Sathre, 0-for-2, BB; Maverick Hanna, 0-for-2, BB; Henry Wiste, SB