It wasn't exactly what the doctor ordered, but it's definitely what Notre Dame needed.
Tim Wencewicz, filling the designated hitter role because of a ailing knee, blasted a two-run home run to spark a six-run Notre Dame first inning and the top-seeded Bulldogs rolled 10-5 over defending champion Chaffee in the quarterfinal round of the SEMO Conference Baseball Tournament.
The victory lifted Notre Dame (13-3) into today's noon semifinal game against fourth-seed Jackson (11-5). Third-seed Sikeston (14-2) will face the winner of Friday's late Poplar Bluff-Dexter game at 2:30 p.m. in the other semifinal.
Wencewicz home run over the right-field fence at Tiger Field, was one of two Bulldog home runs on the day. Blake Urhahn iced the game with his first varsity home run, a two-run shot to left field in the sixth inning.
"This is what we want," Wencewicz said. "We want the conference tournament. We didn't win it last year. To me, this is just like state. I want to play every game as hard as I can because we want that first-place trophy."
Wencewicz's fifth home run of the season came after taking about a week and a half off to nurse his left knee, which underwent surgery for the second time in two years back in January and ended his basketball season.
"I've been going to the doctor a lot lately but he really can't do a whole lot for me," Wencewicz said, citing arthritis, tissue swelling and fluid buildup. "I've just been battling that. To just come back and hit again feels awesome. Plus I was due too."
His one-out home run came right after Shane Kistner coaxed a walk off Andrew Horrell, who didn't survive the inning, and set a tone for the game.
"That's pretty much what I go for," Wencewicz said. "Otherwise it's pretty much a long single for me. I don't have the speed I use to."
Chaffee, the eighth seed that routed No. 9 Kelly 13-1 earlier in the day, looked a bit rattled after the blast, committing three errors to help Notre Dame score four more runs in the inning.
Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said Wencewicz, who plays first when healthy, may need surgery again after the season.
"We're kind of leaving him on his own," Graviett said. "He's supposed to talk to us and DH-ing has been helping him quite a bit lately. We need him in the lineup so whatever we 've got to do to have him come district time, we'll do."
Brent Thomason relieved Horrell with one out in the first inning and pitched the remainder of the game. He allowed two third-inning runs and Urhahn's home run in the sixth.
Winning pitcher Jeff Brosey (4-1) gave up just three hits through the first four innings and allowed single runs in the third and fourth innings. Chaffee chased Brosey in a three-run fifth inning as Horrell, James Reischmann and Zac Horman opened with three straight hits. Wayne Essner relieved Brosey and walked the first two batters he faced, forcing in the second run of the inning. Trailing 8-4 with the bases loaded and nobody out, Chaffee added just one run as Essner escaped the jam with a double play and a groundout. He allowed only one baserunner over the final two innings, issuing just a seventh-inning walk.
"We had a rough first inning, but it was nice to see us not just fold up the tent," Chaffee coach Brian Horrell said.
Matt Wulfers went 2-for-4 as Notre Dame had nine hits overall. Horrell also went 2-for-4 for Chaffee, which had six hits.
Sikeston 10, Central 7
Third-seed Sikeston rallied from a 4-0 deficit at Capaha Field to run its winning streak to nine games.
Central (5-13), the sixth seed which defeated Sikeston 5-1 earlier this season, took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth but committed three errors in the six-run inning. A Drew Lawrence bases-loaded, two-run single put the Bulldogs ahead for good at 5-4.
Sophomores Blake DeWitt and Jacob Priday accounted for five of Sikeston's eight hits, going 3-for-4 and 2-for-3 respectively.
Patrick Slattery and Chris Daniel both went 2-for-4 for the Tigers. Central had four of its nine hits in a three-run first inning.
Lance Rhodes (5-0) picked up the win in relief of DeWitt, while Central starter John Thies (3-7) took the loss.
Jackson 10, NMCC 2
Brad Berry blasted a fourth-inning grand slam at Capaha Field to help the Indians into the semifinals.
New Madrid County Central scored single runs in the first and second innings, but Jackson moved ahead 3-2 with a three-run third. Barry, who had two hits, put the Indians in control with his one-out clout the next inning. Jake Carter went 3-for-3 and Trevor Thompson added two hits for the Indians, who had 10 overall.
Josh Parham (4-0) limited the Eagles to five hits.
Poplar Bluff 7, Scott City 5
Seventh-seed Poplar Bluff (6-12) broke a 5-5 deadlock with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh in a first-round game played at Notre Dame.
Andrew Estes of Scott City and Bluff's J.C. Clifford each had home runs.
Jason Umfleet suffered the loss for Scott City (5-7), the 10th seed.
Chaffee 13, Kelly 1
The Red Devils scored two runs in the second and never looked back, banging out 13 hits in its first-round victory at Central.
Derek Urhahn went 3-for-3 for Chaffee and Horman, Sam Burnett and Robert Coomer each had two hits.
Winning pitcher Zac Horman held Kelly to six hits.