Notre Dame just short in 2A matchup

Thursday, May 30, 2002

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Notre Dame senior Jeff Brosey noticed a disturbing trend as he pitched to the John Burroughs lineup during Wednesday's Class 2A baseball semifinal.

"They were huge," Brosey said. "Bigger than what I normally see. It seems like they got bigger and bigger every time another guy came up there" to bat.

Brosey wasn't just seeing things.

With a physically imposing lineup, which featured many of the same athletes from its 2A state football championship team, John Burroughs scored the game's first four runs and held on a for a 5-2 win.

"We have some monsters," John Burroughs coach Andy Katzman said. "We probably average 6-foot-2 or 6-3 on the starting nine. Size doesn't win you baseball games, but if it did, we would have won every game."

The Bombers (23-3) haven't been far from perfection, though. Its win advanced Burroughs to the 2A title game against Kansas City St. Pius X at 8 p.m. today. Notre Dame (18-6) will play Springfield Catholic (15-10) for third place at 2. St. Pius won the late semifinal 9-5 in nine innings.

Proving size doesn't necessarily matter, one of the Bombers' smallest players made arguably the biggest play of the game when left fielder Andrew Emory threw out Wayne Essner in the second inning as the Bulldogs' courtesy runner tried to score from second base on a single by Matt Wulfers.

"We saw the dude coming home and we thought he was going to make it," Brosey said. "But that left fielder had an arm."

The 5-foot-10 Emory threw a perfect strike on the fly to Bombers catcher A.J. Van Slyke, who put the tag on Essner for the second out and then threw to second base to gun down Wulfers trying to advance on the throw home.

"It was early in the ball game, but if you can call an early play critical that's what it was," Katzman said. "Andrew threw a bullet to A.J., who made a wonderful tag, and then he had the common sense to go ahead and get it down to second."

Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett credited the Bombers with making a great play on the throw home.

"We've been doing that all year -- sending runners and making them make the play, and they made it," Graviett said. "That gave them a little bit of momentum." Avoiding an early deficit with the great defensive play, Burroughs went on the offensive and scored three runs in the top of the third.

Scott Van Slyke, one of four Bombers starters taller than 6-4, started the rally off Brosey with a double down the left-field line. Trying to bunt Van Slyke to third, Curran Clark legged out his sacrifice for a single. A wild pitch moved Clark to second where Cris Lange drove home two runs with a single to center field. Lange eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by A.J. Van Slyke to make the score 3-0.

Scott Van Slyke also started a one-out rally in the fourth with a single to center. The 6-5 freshman scored on a two-out single by Bob Miltinberger.

Lange, John Sternberg and Scott Van Slyke all had two hits.

Notre Dame scored single runs in the fourth and fifth to close the gap against Burroughs starter Jason Dupont.

Dupont (9-0) pitched six innings for the win, allowing eight hits. Lange hurled the final inning for the save.

Burroughs added a run in the seventh off Bulldog reliever Blake Urhahn, who pitched the final three innings. Urhahn allowed two hits, and Brosey (6-2) allowed seven hits and four runs. Brosey led Notre Dame with two hits.

"Both of the teams played awesome," Brosey said. "Both teams hit the ball real good, they just came out on top." Brosey got no argument from the Bombers coach.

"We had to battle and it really showed," Katzman said. "That was a good ball club we played. That was probably one of the best teams we've seen all year."

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