Himmelberg throws one-hitter in ND's sectional victoryy

Wednesday, May 21, 2008
KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com Notre Dame senior Mark Himmelberg delivered a pitch Tuesday during the Bulldogs' 3-0 sectional victory over De Soto. Himmelberg allowed just one hit.

DE SOTO — Notre Dame didn't do much at the plate, especially after the first inning.

The way Mark Himmelberg pitched, the Bulldogs' three-hit attack was more than enough.

Himmelberg threw a one-hit shutout and received a pair of solo home runs as the Bulldogs eased past host De Soto 3-0 on Tuesday in a Class 3 sectional baseball game.

Notre Dame (18-6), which won its first district title since 2003 last week, posted its first sectional victory since the 2002 squad advanced to the final four in the program's last Class 2 season.

"It's a step for us as a Class 3 program," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said. "We have our sights set on our first final four as a Class 3 program."

The Bulldogs will receive that opportunity Thursday when they play at Pacific (11-12) in the quarterfinal round. The game time will be determined today.

"We really want to get to the final four. That's our goal," senior third baseman Blake Gaddis said. "You get there, anything can happen."

TOP: Notre Dame players greeted Jacob Valleroy at home plate following his solo home run during Tuesday's Class 3 sectional win over De Soto. ABOVE: Austin Greer connected with a pitch. ABOVE RIGHT: Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett smiled while talking with players near the end of the Bulldogs' 3-0 victory. RIGHT: Notre Dame's Colton Young completed a double play over De Soto baserunner Brandon O'Day. BELOW: Left fielder Jake Pewitt caught a pop fly.

Gaddis got the Bulldogs off to a fast start Tuesday. He led off the bottom of the first inning — Notre Dame was the home team on the scoreboard — with a home run to dead center field.

"It's always good to get off to a good start," Gaddis said.

Himmelberg followed with a single, and two errors loaded the bases with nobody out. The Bulldogs managed just one more run from that threat to lead 2-0.

me two runs right away and I'll take it every time," Graviett said.

KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com Notre Dame's Colton Young (2) completed a double play over DeSoto baserunner Brandon O'Day Tuesday, May 20, 2008, duirng the Class 3 Sectional at DeSoto.

Notre Dame had just one hit the rest of the way, a solo homer by senior catcher Jacob Valleroy in the fourth inning.

That was more than enough for Himmelberg, a senior right-hander.

The only hit De Soto (17-10) got off Himmelberg was a clean single to center field by Nathan White with one out in the third inning.

"Mark threw the ball real good. He hit his spots," Valleroy said.

KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com Head Coach Jeff Graviett smiled while talking with players near the end of Notre Dame's 3-0 Class 3 Sectional win over DeSoto Tuesday, May 20, 2008, in DeSoto.

Said Himmelberg, who struck out six: "I was able to get the curveball over and I didn't have to throw too many pitches."

Especially through six innings, as he allowed just two baserunners — on White's single and a second-inning error — and faced just one over the minimum.

Himmelberg finally ran into some trouble in the seventh as he issued consecutive walks to De Soto's Nos. 2 and 3 hitters.

"I was just trying to blow it by them a little too much," Himmelberg said. "I got a little excited. I wasn't sticking to what I had been doing."

KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com Austin Greer connected with a pitch Tuesday, May 20, 2008, during the Class 3 Sectional at DeSoto.

Graviett paid a visit to the mound.

"He just told me to relax and start throwing strikes," Himmelberg said.

Himmelberg retired the next three batters — on a fly ball to right field, a strikeout and a ground ball to shortstop — as Notre Dame nailed down the win.

"Any time you throw a shutout this time of the year. ... Mark really battled," Graviett said.

KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com Notre Dame left fielder Jake Pewitt (33) caught a pop fly as DeSoto's Matt Guemmer made his way to first base Tuesday, May 20, 2008, during the Class 3 Sectional in DeSoto. Notre Dame won 3-0.

While Himmelberg, who improved to 7-3, dominated the Dragons, Notre Dame credited De Soto ace Neal Finch (6-3) for holding down the Bulldogs' offense.

"He kept us off balance," Valleroy said.

Added Graviett: "Their kid did a good job. When you get to this point, all teams are quality."

Graviett said the first-inning leadoff home run was a big boost to the Bulldogs as Gaddis continued his surge over the second half of the season.

"The second half of the year, he's been the man in the leadoff spot," Graviett said.

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WP — Mark Himmelberg, 7-3. LP — Neal Finch, 6-3. HR — Blake Gaddis (ND), Jacob Valleroy (ND). Records — Notre Dame 18-6, De Soto 17-10.

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