LISLE — It always seems to be a close game when the baseball teams from Lisle and Herscher meet.
That was the case Friday as the Lions and Tigers played to a 1-1 draw when the game was called due to darkness after eight innings.
The only blemish against Lisle was an unearned run hung on starting pitcher Alex Ventrella, who was otherwise spotless.
“Alex battled. He was unbelievable. He and (the Herscher starter) went pitch-for-pitch,” Lisle coach Pete Meyer said. “Alex was lights out. He had all his pitches and he did everything he needed to do.”
What Meyer wasn’t pleased with were the mental mistakes that led to four errors and cost Lisle a chance at the outright win.
“In a one-run ball game you can’t make five mental errors, and we did. We’re lucky it wasn’t 5-1 with all the errors we made,” the coach said. “Mental mistakes will kill you. Some of it is they’re trying to do the right things, some of it isn’t.
“You don’t get too many chances to go one-run with Herscher, and when you think about it we could have won the game. We were just one pitch away here and there.”
In chilly and windy conditions that made pitching tough, Ventrella hung tough with his off-speed pitches and lasted seven-2/3 innings.
“I was really locating my fastball, but what really got me over was my curveball. I was throwing that for strikes,” said Ventrella, who struck out 12. “I didn’t throw too many changeups, but when I got tired and my curveballs were getting low, I went to the changeup and I was placing that well.”
What goes in the record book as a tie for now could change later in the season.
“We’ll pick it up somewhere down the road, but they’re so far away you just don’t know how it’s going to work,” Meyer said. “It might be something if we’re going to Peotone or something we could stop by. To be honest with you, they might tell us to wait until the end of the season to see if it makes a difference.”
Like most teams, Lisle didn’t have much practice time outside before the season started, which may account for some of the miscues that have cropped up so far.
“So far it’s been a slow start. We had a lot of indoor practices and not a lot of outdoor practices to start, so it’s been a slow start. A lot of mental and physical errors, but we’re getting better,” senior Ryan Van Volkenburg said. “We definitely need to make less physical errors and get bigger hits when the time calls for it.”
Ventrella has already seen the team take strides forward in the early stages of the season.
“Our first couple games were a little shaky but we’re making improvements and we have a bright future,” he said. “I think we just have to keep working hard in practice and everything will fall into place.”
Adam Grego plated Lisle’s only run against Herscher, though the Lions’ offense fared much better in an 11-8 win over Timothy Christian Saturday in Elmhurst that leveled their record at 3-3-1.
Eric Puccini earned the win for Lisle, which benefited from five TC errors.