Notre Dame tops Waverly; controls destiny in division race
SOUTHPORT - The complexion of the IAC South Large School title chase changed dramatically in two days.
Following its 3-1 win over Notre Dame Monday, Waverly entered Tuesday's game at Edison with a 1 1/2 game lead in the division
Just 48 hours later, following a 3-2 loss here Thursday afternoon to the Crusaders, which came on the heels of a 4-3 loss at Edison, the Wolverines face in a must-win game Friday at Newark Valley to force a playoff game for the division title.
Sophomore Parker May of Ridgebury pitched five strong innings to pick up the win for Notre Dame and Derek Marshall pitched out of a major jam in the sixth inning and finished off the game for the save.
"Parker (May) did a nice job for us today," said Notre Dame coach Bill Hopkins.
"He's been pitching effectively for us the last two-thirds of the season. At the beginning of the year, I didn't know exactly where he fit in," said Hopkins, "But he's become more and more confident as a pitcher and he's probably our number two pitcher now.
Marshall entered the game with Notre Dame leading 3-2 in the top of the sixth with no outs and Waverly sporting runners on second and third. He escaped the jam unscathed.
Hopkins said Marshall's performance was a bit surprising for a couple of reasons.
"He's coming off of a concussion," said Hopkins. "He's been out of our line-up for seven or eight days.
"He's our starting catcher as well, so we've been missing that cog defensively," he said. "Today, not only did he save runs with his catching skills, but he saved the game with his pitching skills.
"He's a tough kid, but today he surprised us a bit," added Hopkins. "He's done it in practice and he's done in it in a couple of games. He did a great job."
Waverly coach Kyle McDuffee said his team followed a recipe for disaster in the loss.
"We hurt ourselves. We threw the ball around and we didn't catch it.
"We hurt ourselves on the base paths," said McDuffee. "And, just like (Wednesday) night, we didn't get the timely hit that we needed.
"We're playing Sectional-caliber opponents right now and the kids need to step up and show that they're ready for Sectionals," he said. "Right now, I don't think we are.
"I'm going to challenge my team to prove me wrong, but I don't think we're ready," added McDuffee.
After Parker and Waverly starter Dylan Perry matched zeroes through the first three innings, Notre Dame broke through in the bottom of the fourth inning on a two-out RBI single by Tyler Boyles to plate Aaron Carson, who walked and stole second base.
The Crusaders tacked on two runs in the home half of the fifth on a pair of throwing errors - two of Wolverines' five miscues in the game - to increase their lead to 3-0.
In the top of the sixth, Zack Saxon led off the inning with a line-drive double into left-center field.
Patric Bronson followed with a hard one-hopper that Boyles handled cleanly at third base, but threw wildly to first to allow Saxon to score.
Matt Lee then hit a slow rolled to Boyles and beat it out for an infield single to put runners on first and third.
Kyle Kuzma kept it going with a looping single into right-center field to plate courtesy-runner Brighton Wood and send Lee to third base.
After striking out the first batter her faced, Marshall knocked down a hard line-drive up the middle off the bat of Marchese, then recovered to throw out Lee at the plate. He then retired Anthony Girolamo on a fly ball to end the inning.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Wyatt Martin reached on an error, but Marchese, who retrieved the ball in short left field, gunned the ball behind Martin at first base to catch him napping for the second out.
Boyles followed with a single, but Perry retired the final batter on a pop out to Marchese.
Waverly mounted a threat in the seventh inning when Zach Cooney worked a four-pitch walk with one out. He advanced to second on a groundout, but was then thrown out trying to steal third base to end the game.
May pitched five-plus innings, allowing two runs - one earned - on six hits, while striking out five and walking five to pick up the win. Marshall struck out one and walked one in two innings of no-hit relief to earn the save.
Perry was tagged with the loss, despite allowing just three runs - two earned - on four hits in six innings on the mound. He struck out four and walked one.
"Dylan Perry did a really nice job today," said McDuffee.
Girolamo had two hits and a stolen base to pace Waverly's offense, while Kuzma had a hit and an RBI, Saxon had a hit and a run scored and Marchese and Lee added hits.
Boyles led Notre Dame with two hits and Kyle Metzger and Kyle Michnic accounted for the Crusaders' other two hits.
"Notre Dame wanted this game more than we did tonight," said McDuffee. "And, they played like it.
"They have a good program and they'll have a good team for years to come, you can see that," he added.
Hopkins wasn't sure what to expect heading into the 2013 season and said its' been a work in progress.
"I'm always optimistic and hopeful. I know the game of baseball and I know anything can happen.
"We've spent a lot of time on our defense and lately we've spent more time on our hitting," he said.
"It's all coming together," added Hopkins. "We're playing pretty good baseball at this time of the season."
And for at least one day - Friday, Hopkins will be a Newark Valley fan.
"Go Cardinals!," he laughed.
If Waverly beats Newark Valley Friday, Notre Dame will host the Wolverines at 4:30 p.m. on Monday in a playoff game for the division title.
If Newark Valley wins, Notre Dame will face New York's state's top-ranked Class C team in Lansing, winners of 40 straight games, in the overall IAC Large School Championship game at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Dunn Field.