LISLE | The record books will indicate that Beecher’s baseball team modestly finished the 2013 season with a .500 record after Monday’s loss to Lisle.
This Bobcats team, however, will deserve a much closer look.
The disappointment lingered after Beecher’s 5-4 loss in the Class 2A Benedictine University supersectional in Lisle, but memories of this group will endure because of its history-making playoff run.
No other team in program history advanced to the state quarterfinals. And after entering the playoffs with an 11-14 record, few outside of Beecher (15-15) expected this to be the team to break through.
"It was a complete transformation of the team," said Beecher coach Brandon DuBois. “I told them, ‘Right now you don’t want to hear it but you guys have accomplished quite a bit compared to where we were at a month and a half ago.’
"As a program this is the furthest that Beecher baseball has ever gone, and that’s something that they’ll be able to hold onto and hopefully be proud of."
After scoring twice in the top of the sixth inning to narrow the deficit to 5-4, Beecher batted in the seventh hoping to extend the game off Lisle reliever Ryan Van Volkenburg, the winning pitcher in Saturday’s sectional final.
Van Volkenburg responded by sending down the Bobcats in order on only nine pitches. It was the only 1-2-3 inning for Lisle (21-10) and the only inning without a hit for Beecher, which outhit the Lions 11-4.
Back-to-back two-out doubles by Beecher starting pitcher Chase Wyatt and cleanup hitter Mike Pignatiello put Beecher ahead 1-0 in the top half of the first before Lisle struck for a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Brian Czyl and a run-scoring groundout by Kevin Coppin.
Lisle’s 2-1 lead didn’t last long. Nick Hermanson drove in Nick Burkhardt with a single in the top of the second, a frame where the Bobcats nearly scored additional runs but had a runner thrown out at the plate on a base running miscue.
The missed opportunities came back to hurt Beecher, which had eight hits through three innings against Lisle starter Alex Ventrella.
“We got quite a few hits today, which is something we’re not usually doing in a game,” DuBois said. “But nobody got the next hit, the big hit in an inning to string something together.”
Jake Oard’s sacrifice fly gave Lisle a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning, an advantage that grew to 5-2 in the fifth on an RBI double by Cliff Krause and a key error.
Beecher took advantage of two Lisle errors in the sixth. Two unearned runs, including one that scored on Wyatt’s single down the right-field line, pulled the Bobcats within 5-4.
With Pignatiello at the plate and runners at first and third, Van Volkenburg struck out the powerful right-handed hitter to escape the sixth without further damage.
Lisle advances to the 2A state semifinals to face Monday night’s winner between Teutopolis and Carlyle at 3 p.m. Friday in Peoria.