The Green Bay Notre Dame baseball team made some history on Wednesday night. Now it hopes to make a little more Thursday.
The Tritons beat Ellsworth 4-1 in a WIAA Division 2 state semifinal at Fox Cities Stadium, winning the program’s first state game in two trips here after also qualifying in 2011.
Notre Dame will play for the state title at 3 p.m. Thursday against either Lodi or Waupun. The semifinal between those teams didn’t start until 10:18 p.m. Wednesday because of rain that caused the Notre Dame game to be delayed 2 hours, 5 minutes.
The wait was worth it for the Tritons, who have become one of the Cinderella teams of the baseball tournament after entering regional play with a 9-10 record.
“It really is satisfying,” Notre Dame coach Andy Conard said. “I’m satisfied because we played good baseball today. We brought our best game on the big stage.
“I told our guys we don’t have time to celebrate too much. We have a chance to play for a state championship (Thursday). We have got to move on. We are not going to get overly giddy yet. We have business to take care of.”
Notre Dame senior right-hander Dominick Golubiewski put together a strong performance in the biggest start and game of his career after missing his freshman and sophomore seasons after twice tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Golubiewski walked the opening batter of the game but quickly settled down, allowing five hits and one run and striking out five in a complete-game win.
Ellsworth had just two hits entering the seventh before attempting to stage a late rally. It scored its lone run and then put runners on first and third with one out, but Golubiewski got designated hitter Isaac Hines to line into a double play to second to end the game and put Notre Dame one win away from a championship.
Golubiewski credited his defense with helping him throughout. Notre Dame didn’t have an error.
“I just got out there and tried to do what I’ve been doing all winter and spring, just working hard and getting ahead of the batters,” Golubiewski said. “First inning there was a couple of butterflies, but after I threw a couple strikes I felt pretty confident.”
Golubiewski had some control problems during the season when he’d lose the release point on his pitches — he entered sectionals having walked 35 batters in 392⁄3 innings — but there was no sign of it from the 6-foot-3, 205-pound standout against Ellsworth.
The Tritons scored the opening run in the first inning without getting a hit or walk after leadoff hitter Riley Christensen was plunked by a pitch from Panthers left-hander James Georgakas.
Sophomore third baseman Charlie Rotherham followed with a sacrifice bunt before Christensen advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a grounder to second by Golubiewski.
The Tritons broke the game open with three runs in the fifth. It included an RBI triple down the right field line from Alex Brault, who then scored on another wild pitch. Rotherham added an RBI single to right to give Notre Dame a comfortable lead.
Perhaps the only thing Notre Dame didn’t do well was run the bases at times. It was picked off first base on three occasions, including twice in the third inning. The Tritons also were picked off first twice against Fox Valley Lutheran in a sectional championship last week.
Conard is just fine with that, too. He doesn’t want his team to lose its aggressiveness.
“No way, no way, no way,” Conard said. “We will never be careful. That guy had a great move. Now, we have got to be smart. At the end, we just told our guys when we were bunting to make sure you don’t move until he absolutely commits to going home.”
Notre Dame will send Nick Zacharias to the mound in the championship game. The junior right-hander was 3-4 with a 3.95 earned-run average entering sectionals and then pitched the Tritons into state with a complete-game win over FVL.
“I’m very confident in him,” Conard said. “He has been really consistent. He has been throwing the ball really well of late. He is a kid that has a lot of poise, and I know the situation won’t be too big for him.”