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Himmelberg throws one-hitter in ND's sectional victoryy
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."
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.