Festus rallies past Notre Dame baseball team

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Bulldogs led by seven runs before the Tigers' late surge

The Notre Dame baseball team scored four times against Festus in the bottom of the fourth inning Monday night, which makes it hard to believe that the inning proved the beginning of the Bulldogs' downfall.

Notre Dame watched a seven-run lead evaporate from that point on its way to a 10-8 loss on its home field.

It didn't look like the Bulldogs even would need seven innings to secure the win. They scored four runs in the fourth inning to take an 8-1 lead with the aid of four walks, an error and three hits, two of which were bunt singles. The bases still were loaded with just one out in the inning, but Festus reliever Jared AuBuchon entered the game and retired the first two batters he faced.

Festus scored nine runs after that on just three hits, while Notre Dame didn't score again despite putting at least one runner on base in each of the final three innings.

Notre Dame pitchers Cody Heisserer and Jonathan Lynch combined to give up six walks and hit three batters during Festus' final three at-bats, and the Bulldogs' defense committed two errors, both of which led to unearned runs.

"We've got to focus on the mound," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said. "Both those guys are capable, and I'm sure they'd both tell you they're capable of throwing strikes. They lost that edge today, and like I said, you keep giving them opportunities and one of their good hitters is going to put a good bat on it. And that's what they did."

Heisserer gave up an RBI double to Festus senior Zach Faulkner in the first inning before allowing just one hit, a bunt single, over the next three innings. He did not complete a fifth inning of work and was removed after walking two hitters and hitting two more while giving up three runs.

"I'm still kind of guessing myself, I guess," Graviett said about the cause of Heisserer's wildness. "He just kind of blew up that inning. We really wanted to get five out of him. It looked like he was going to cruise through five and go with the game plan, but he struggled throwing strikes right there."

Heisserer walked the first batter he faced in the fifth before an infield error allowed another runner to reach.

"Stuff wasn't going my way, and I'd get mad, and I would just try to overthrow it," Heisserer said. "I'd open up when I'd pitch."

He said his stuff was fine, but his mind wasn't.

"They were all there," he said about his pitches. "It's just, I guess, they were getting a hit and a couple errors and then walks."

The first two Notre Dame batters reached base in the bottom of the fifth, but both were lost on the base paths. One tried to take a base on a wild pitch and the other was picked off first base.

"I was disappointed in the effort all the way around," Graviett said. "We had a chance to put a good team away. We just didn't take advantage of those opportunities and let them hang around. That's what happens when you let good teams hang around long enough."

Lynch walked in a run in the sixth inning before Faulkner provided another big hit. He sent a pitch ricocheting off the scoreboard for a grand slam.

"I saw he was throwing a lot of fastballs, so that's what I was sitting on," Faulkner said. "It turns out he threw one over the plate, so I got a good barrel on it."

The homer was Faulkner's sixth of the season and raised his RBI total to 36.

The loss was the first for Notre Dame on its home field this season and dropped its record to 18-3. The Bulldogs will host the Class 3 District 1 tournament as the top seed beginning Saturday.

"You hope looking down the road you say this was a good loss, but only time will time," Graviett said. "It's what they do with it from now as whether it is a good loss or just another loss."

Notre Dame3014000--892

WP -- Jared AuBuchon. LP -- Jonathan Lynch. HR -- Cody Heisserer (ND), Zach Faulkner (F). 2B -- Jeremy Brown (F), Faulkner (F), Caleb Wilkerson (F), Tim Gurnow (F). Multiple hits -- Festus: Faulkner 2-3; Notre Dame: Justin Landewee 3-4, Heisserer 2-2, Kyle Campbell 2-4. Records -- Festus 16-5, Notre Dame 18-3.

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