After a tough week, the Elmira Notre Dame baseball team turned its fortunes around with a big inning Friday against Interscholastic Athletic Conference rival Waverly.
Hunter Thomas capped a four-run sixth inning with a go-ahead two-run single and Parker May escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning as the Crusaders pulled out a 6-5 victory on a breezy afternoon.
“It’s a big win, especially coming off three losses out of four games,” said Thomas, a senior. “It’s a big win coming in here and beating one of our rivals. So I thought that was pretty sweet.”
May went 3-for-4 while Thomas and Brian Hale had two hits each for Notre Dame (8-3, 7-2 IAC), which was limited to two runs on six hits through the first five innings by Waverly right-hander Collin Traub. Facing a three-run deficit headed to the bottom of the sixth, head coach Bill Hopkins gathered his team for a pep talk.
“We’ve stopped hitting the ball the last seven, eight days and I was just stunned to see us do what we had done up until that point,” Hopkins said. “It just takes somebody to ignite and get things going.”
That somebody was junior first baseman Cameron Reid, who reached on an infield hit to start the inning. Matt LaBadie reached on an error one out later and Hale followed with an RBI single that fell just over the first baseman’s head.
Waverly coach Kyle McDuffee turned to Dylan Perry to take over for Traub. Perry pitched a two-hitter Tuesday in the Wolverines’ 3-0 home win against Notre Dame.
Kyle Minchin drove in LaBadie with a grounder back to the pitcher to cut the deficit to 5-4 and Sam Bruner reached on a grounder to the shortstop that McDuffee argued should have been called the third out. Bruner stole second to put runners at second and third and came home with the go-ahead run on Thomas’ line drive to left-center field.
“I was just up there and calm,” Thomas said. “I’ve been through it 100 times in practice. Coach says to just be calm.”
Hopkins said he was surprised Waverly (5-4, 4-2 IAC) decided to pitch to Thomas in that situation.
“Whether you’re a basketball player if you’re at the foul line or a baseball player at-bat, you want to relish those situations and Hunter does,” Hopkins said. “We have full confidence in him.”
May followed with a hit to right field, but Thomas was thrown out at home plate. He argued he slid under the tag.
In the top of the seventh, Tim Sutton walked and Zach Saxon singled to right. Thomas, who took over for starter Derek Marshall in the fourth inning, then gave way to May. After a sacrifice bunt by Alex Uhl put runners at second and third, May struck out Peyton Miller before Perry was intentionally walked to load the bases. May closed out the win by getting Brendyn Stillman on a grounder to Reid at first base.
“I knew he had to come in. I wasn’t throwing strikes; I wasn’t getting the calls,” Thomas said. “It was Parker’s time to come in and shine and that’s what he did.”
Said Hopkins: “Parker pitched great. He comes in and puts out the fire.”
Waverly took a 3-0 lead in the third inning, with the first two runs scoring on a dropped fly ball in right field. Kyle Kinsley drove in the third with a double.
The Crusaders scored twice in the bottom of the inning, thanks in part to two Waverly errors.
Waverly added a run in the fifth on an RBI ground out by Sutton and another in the sixth on Alex Volpe’s single.
Notre Dame pitchers hit five Waverly batters, with Stillman scoring both times after he got hit. Volpe, Saxon and Kinsley had two hits each for the Wolverines. Perry walked three times, singled and scored twice.