Notre Dame offense gains steam for final Class 2A run

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Notre Dame is taking this enrollment multiplier thing seriously.

Getting bumped up to Class 3A in baseball next year due to the recently passed 1.35 multiplier proposal for private schools in Missouri, the Bulldogs have apparently implemented the change on offense during their final days as a Class 2A school.

The Bulldogs upgraded their run output in a romp through District 2, outscoring three opponents 35-6. The 11.67 runs per contest was an increase of about 40 percent; Notre Dame entered the district averaging 8.27 runs.

Notre Dame (16-5), making its third playoff appearance in the past four years, will host South Pemiscot (11-12) at 4 p.m. today in a sectional playoff game.

"We're been hitting the ball about as well as any team I've had at this time of the year up here, and that's saying a lot," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said.

Notre Dame, which has won three 2A state championships, reached the final four in 1999 and 2000, finishing second and third.

"This is our last big shot for 2A," said Notre Dame senior first baseman Tim Wencewicz, who leads the team with seven home runs and 23 RBIs. "We'll still have a shot next year, but we have to take advantage of this year."

Junior right-hander Jeff Brosey will start today for Notre Dame. A freshman on the junior varsity when the Bulldogs made their last state appearance, he's looking forward to his first trip to Columbia, Mo.

"This year would be a pretty good year to do it," Brosey said. "It'll be very tough next year with all the new teams we'll be playing. We played Sikeston already and they whooped us."

South Pemiscot probably won't mind Notre Dame's departure from 2A.

"It seems like we face each other pretty often in the sectional," South Pemiscot coach Bobby McCulloch said.

Notre Dame provided a lowlight for McCulloch in the last sectional encounter, played in 1999 in Steele, Mo.

The irony still wasn't lost on McCulloch, who saw then-Notre Dame senior Wes Steele chase home the tying and winning runs with a two-out hit in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 4-3 Notre Dame victory.

Today, McCulloch will send sophomore right-hander Jonathan Spence to the mound. Notre Dame defeated South Pemiscot 6-5 two weeks ago with Spence as a starter.

The game will be the final one at home for Notre Dame this season. With a win, it will play Friday's quarterfinal contest at either Twin Rivers (9-4) or West County (21-2).

"Our seniors are playing their last game at home," Graviett said, whose team lost its last home game to Sikeston by the 10-run rule. "We've been talking all week about having the opportunity to go out your senior year on a winning note at home. A lot of times kids don't get that opportunity."

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