Lisle shocks No. 7 Teutopolis to advance to 2A title game

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

PEORIA - The second pitch that left Ryan Van Volkenburg’s hand in the Class 2A state semifinals was deposited over the left field fence at O’Brien Field. Not exactly the start the Lisle left-handed pitcher had envisioned.

Not to mention the opposing pitcher, Teutopolis right-hander Kyle Pruemer, was pumping 89-90 mph fastballs in the first inning. Indeed, it had the makings of a long day – or possibly a short day – for Van Volkenburg and the underdog Lions.

Van Volkenburg, however, didn’t break – far from it, in fact – and proceeded to get stronger and stronger until he put the finishing touches on a masterful 2-1 complete-game victory over perennial powerhouse Teutopolis on Friday.

Thanks to Van Volkenburg’s gutty eight-hit, four-strikeout, three-walk performance, the Lions (22-10-1) will compete for the school’s first state championship against the winner of Pleasant Plains-Eureka on Saturday night.

“This is a dream come true,” said Lisle coach Pete Meyer. “I’m so proud of these guys the way they played the game.”

Van Volkenburg (6-1) fed Teutopolis (29-4) – which was seeking its third Class 2A state championship in four years - a steady diet of curveballs and changeups all game long. That is, except for his second pitch – a belt-high fastball – which senior Jared Waldhoff quickly crushed for a home run.

That’s enough to confetti the steeliest of nerves. Not Van Volkenburg.

“In a way it was kind of good,” said Van Volkenburg, who will play at Maryville next year. “I wasn’t happy with it, obviously, but after that the nerves went away. It helped me calm down.”

Meanwhile, Pruemer (7-2), Teutopolis’ 6-foot-5, 240-pound Southern Illinois-bound right-hander, mowed down hitters in the first two innings. Then in the third, after retiring the first two batters, an error by the third baseman on Cliff Krause’s grounder opened the door.

And Lisle took full advantage. Senior centerfielder Alex Ventrella (2-for-3) followed with a run-scoring single, then Van Volkenburg singled, and after Brian Czyl was hit by a pitch, junior shortstop Kevin Coppin delivered the eventual game-winning hit when a ripped a run-scoring single the other way to make it 2-1.

“We knew we had to scratch for every at-bat one through nine,” said Coppin. “I just focused on squaring it up and putting it in play.”

Lisle’s offense wouldn’t come close to scoring after the third inning. The Lions managed only four hits against Pruemer, who struck out 10 with one walk in his complete-game effort.

Teutopolis threatened in the sixth when the leadoff man reached on an error, but catcher Jake Oard back-picked him soon after on a bunt play. The next hitter, Darren Probst (3-for-3) ripped a double, and was eventually stranded.

Now Lisle will be playing for a state championship in its first appearance.

“We thought it was a longshot,” said Ventrella of foreseeing this early in the season. “But we definitely came together as a team late in the season.”

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