A slow start for the Elmira Notre Dame offense turned into a runaway Tuesday afternoon as the Crusaders beat Harpursville, 15-1, in the first round of the Section 4 Class C baseball tournament.
Freshman left-hander Ryan Kachmar shut out Notre Dame over the first three innings, but an RBI single from freshman third baseman Matt LaBadie tied the score at 1 and senior pitcher Hunter Thomas followed with a two-run triple that started the rout.
The fifth-seeded Crusaders (13-5) added four runs in the fifth and eight in the sixth as the hits, walks, hit batters and Harpursville errors piled up. Thomas went 3-for-5 with two triples, a double and five RBIs and limited 12th-seeded Harpursville (6-9) to one run on six hits over six innings.
“I’m not surprised with the number of hits we got for the game. I am surprised we didn’t get them earlier,” Notre Dame coach Bill Hopkins said. “But this is how the nature of this team works. They like to go one time, two times through the lineup before they’re able to do things. It just takes one person to spark us and most of the time it’s Hunter.”
Notre Dame will play at fourth-seeded Trumansburg (13-3) in a quarterfinal at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. Trumansburg, which rallied for a 9-6 home win over Notre Dame on May 9, was a 7-5 winner over 13th-seeded Bainbridge-Guilford on Tuesday.
The Crusaders’ loss to Trumansburg was followed by a 16-6 defeat against Thomas A. Edison last Wednesday in a playoff to decide the Interscholastic Athletic Conference South Large School title.
“We’ve had five days of great practice, so I really thought we’d jump right all over him, but we also hadn’t played in a week,” Hopkins said. “Maybe that had something to do with it.”
Notre Dame’s four-run fifth was helped by four errors, with two runs scoring when Sam Bruner knocked the ball out of first baseman Mason Townsend’s glove as Townsend reached for a high throw up the line.
A three-run triple from Thomas highlighted the sixth inning, which included a combined six walks and four hit batters from Kachmar and reliever Jon Andrews. Notre Dame walked 11 times total and Harpursville committed six errors.
Thomas, Parker May and Cameron Reid have provided much of the offense in recent games from spots two through four in the lineup. Hopkins said the contributions from the bottom of the lineup made a big difference Tuesday. The bottom third of the batting order — Marshall, LaBadie and Kyle Minchin — combined to reach base nine times, scored seven runs and had three RBIs.
“We didn’t play in about a week, so we were ready to get come in and get the job done,” Thomas said. “We started off slow and didn’t hit the ball real well, but it got to the third, fourth inning and we started coming around and got on the pitcher and started hitting the ball hard everywhere.”
Thomas struggled on the mound against Edison in his last start. Harpursville’s only run against the right-hander came on a third-inning sacrifice fly from Townsend. Thomas struck out seven, walked two and his defense helped him by throwing out two runners at the plate.
“I was ready to go against them,” he said. “I didn’t have a very good game pitching (against Edison) and everyone knew that. I was ready to come out here and pitch a good game and do my best for my team and that’s what I did.”
Reid, who contributed two hits and a walk, pitched a scoreless seventh inning to close out the victory.