Last month Vandenbroek was hit flush in the face by a line drive.
"When I got to him I actually thought the kid was dieing," says Belvidere baseball coach Andrew Walters. "He wasn't breathing well due to all the damage that had been done. It's probably the scariest situation I've ever seen on a baseball field."
There was blood all over Vandenbroek's jersey and a huge hole at the top of his nose.
"For an instant I though I was a goner," says Vandenbroek.
Vandenbroek was taken to St. Anthony Medical Center where surgery was done to reconstruct his nose. It was fractured into pieces. That was in early April. Now a scar shows from all the stitches. He suffered no other injuries.
"I just got lucky that I have a big nose and it hit me in the nose," says Vandenbroek. "If it would have ben anywhere else I might not be here right now."
Vandenbroek didn't pitch again until last week. He was wearing a protective mask that he had ordered.
"I didn't have too much trouble with it," says Vandenbroek. "If you focus properly you'll get used to it."
He could see a day where masks like these could become common for pitchers.
"Eventually ti'll be another part of your body if you get used to it," says Vandenbroek.
He isn't gun-shy about being on the mound again. He still loves to pitch even though he knows as well as anyone the potential for danger that exists with each swing of the bat.
"You never know when it could come right back at you," says Vandenbroek. "The time you have from 60 feet is not very long. It's just part of the sport.
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