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Baseball: Lisle edges Beecher for supersectional title

Beecher's Nick Hermansis tagged out home by Lisle catcher Jake Oard. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media

Beecher's Nick Hermanson is tagged out at home by Lisle catcher Jake Oard. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 29, 2013 6:32AM



Lisle and Beecher were intent on extending their record-setting seasons Monday at the Class 2A Benedictine Supersectional.

Beecher, a No. 3 seed, had defeated three No. 1 seeds on its way to its first-ever Elite Eight appearance. The No. 2 Lions, despite a 31-win season in 2012, never had won a sectional in its history, much less a supersectional.

Lisle next will try to win its first state championship as the Lions, behind a gritty pitching performance from Alex Ventrella and the big bat of Cliff Krause, downed Beecher 5-4.

Lisle advances to Friday’s 2A state semifinals and will play Teutopolis, the winner of the Sauget Supersectional, at 3 p.m. Friday at O’Brien Field in Peoria.

Beecher ends its season 15-15.

“It’s a long time coming,” Lisle coach Pete Meyer said. “Every year we felt like we had an opportunity to do this. This year, we talked about taking one pitch, one at-bat, one game at a time. These guys had the mentality that we could beat anybody.”

Lisle (21-10) won despite being outhit 11-4 and committing three errors to Beecher’s one.

The Lions broke a 2-all tie with two runs in the fourth and added a much-needed insurance run in the fifth to take a 5-2 lead. Jake Oard’s sacrifice fly and Krause’s RBI double highlighted the outburst.

A determined Beecher squad didn’t go down without a fight. The Bobcats rallied in the sixth inning, compliments of three Lions errors, and cut the deficit to 5-4. Devin Mahnke’s fielder’s choice grounder scored one run and Chase Wyatt’s single down the first-base line scored another.

However, with the tying run at third base and the lead run at first, lefty reliever Ryan Van Volkenburg struck out Mike Pignatiello to end the threat.

Van Volkenburg, who threw 40 pitches during Saturday’s win, made certain he had his focus on working as a reliever, not a starter.

“It’s a different mind-set,” he said. “You have to attack hitters instead of working around them. I gave it everything I got every pitch.”

Beecher pushed a run across the plate in the first. Wyatt (2-for-4) and Pignatiello (2-for-4) stroked back-to-back two-out doubles off Ventrella for a 1-0 lead.

Lisle responded with two runs in its half of the first off Wyatt, Beecher’s starting pitcher. Krause led off the frame with a double to the right-field corner and Ventrella followed with a single to left to put runners on the corners with no outs. Brian Czyl’s single scored Krause, and Kevin Coppin’s fielder’s choice allowed Ventrella to cross the plate for a 2-1 advantage.

“I was hoping we would come right back and score,” Ventrella said. “Those two runs were huge for us. Cliff had a huge game.”

The Bobcats tied the game at 2 in the second inning on an RBI single by Nick Hermanson (2-for-3) that scored Nick Burkhardt (single).

Beecher had runners on base in every inning except the seventh, when Van Volkenburg recorded a 1-2-3 inning. The Bobcats stranded nine runners.

“I’ve been trying to do this since my freshman year,” Van Volkenburg said of advancing to the state finals. “We finally did it. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Ventrella, who was pitching on three days’ rest, went five innings, allowing three runs on 10 hits. He walked none and struck out six.

Wyatt lasted 42/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned), four hits and one walk while striking out two. He also hit two batters.

“We got quite a few hits but we just couldn’t get the big hit to string something big together,” Beecher coach Brandon DuBois said. “I told the kids, ‘You may not feel like it right now, but you have accomplished quite a bit. It’s something to be proud of.’ ”



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