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Notre Dame encounters first loss
Top-ranked Notre Dame watched its perfect regular season end with a 13-8 loss to No. 8 seed Poplar Bluff in the first round of the SEMO Conference baseball tournament Friday.
Notre Dame (16-1) committed six errors and surrendered nine unearned runs.
"Defense and pitching have been two of the things that have been some of our strengths," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said. "We scored eight runs and we ended up with 14 hits, so we swung the bats well enough to win today. It came down to making plays in the field. They made them. We didn't."
Pitcher Trenton St. Cin started for the Bulldogs and took the loss. He tossed the first four innings, giving up six runs on seven hits. He struck out five and walked three.
St. Cin had started just one other game this season. Graviett said he decided to pitch St. Cin because it was his turn in the rotation. Graviett had started his top two hurlers, Dylan Drury and Colton Young, in games earlier this week against Sikeston and Jackson. Notre Dame won the SEMO Conference with its win over Jackson on Wednesday.
"I was just kind of working the rotation," Graviett said. "It was more important to me [to have Young pitch] on Wednesday against Jackson for the outright conference championship and to get a win against a quality team like that. And we had it set up trying to work a rotation."
Tanner Hiett pitched the fifth and sixth innings, giving up seven runs on five hits. He struck out two and walked two. Brandon Peters tossed the seventh inning.
The Mules' big inning was the fifth, when they scored six times to jump ahead 12-3.
"It came down to the big six-run inning in the fifth," Graviett said. "And we've got to find a way to stop that and we had opportunities with our gloves to stop that and didn't do it. ... Luckily enough this was not the district time of the year when you're done. You get the chance to come back out and make some noise."
Meanwhile, No. 2 Jackson rolled past No. 7 Kennett 8-2 to advance to today's 2:30 p.m. semifinal game against rival Central at Notre Dame Regional High School.
Senior Travis Hurst tossed a complete game for the Indians (9-10). He gave up two runs -- one earned -- on five hits and four walks. He struck out two.
"Travis has gotten stronger as the year has gone on," Jackson coach Rob French said. "He's walking less guys, putting less guys on base. He puts himself in a really good position and he gets the strikeout when he needs to. Obviously, he only had two [strikeouts] today, but they were both in key situations. We made an error and he pitched around it. He's just done a real good job of pitching himself out of trouble."
Jackson scored six runs in the first two innings combined after leaving four men on base and failing to score in the first two innings against Notre Dame on Wednesday.
"The games that we've won this year we've scored early and often," French said. "The Notre Dame game was the first time we had not scored in the first inning in quite a while. So it's always nice to kind of get on top and try to stay on top. Playing with a lead is always much easier than playing from behind."
Tyler Qualls went 2-for-4. He ripped a double and knocked in three runs. Matt Crader also added two hits.
French said that even though his team is the top seed remaining, it does not necessarily mean his squad is the team to beat going forward.
"I think in this tournament, with the caliber of teams in this conference, I think it just goes to show with Poplar Bluff beating No. 1 seed Notre Dame, that anybody can win this tournament and anybody can beat anybody on any given day," French said. "The competition is that tight."
Poplar Bluff 13, Notre Dame 8
WP -- Magruder. LP -- Trenton St. Cin, 1-1. 3B -- Colton Young (ND). 2B -- Young (ND), Dylan Drury (ND), Jeremy Essner (ND), Thompson (PB) 2. Multiple hits -- Notre Dame: Young 3-5, Drury 2-3, Essner 2-4, Mark Hagedorn 2-2, McIntosh 3-5, Thompson 2-4. Smith 3-5. Conover 2-4. Records -- Notre Dame 16-1.
Jackson 8, Kennett 2
WP -- Travis Hurst, 3-2. LP -- Trey Bazzell. 2B -- Tyler Qualls (J). Multiple hits -- Jackson: Qualls 2-4, Matt Crader 2-4. Records -- Jackson 9-1.