WEST HAVEN – After clinching a bid in the state tournament over the weekend, the Notre Dame baseball team wants to work on qualifying for the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament and improving its seeding for the postseason.
The Green Knights took a step in those directions Monday afternoon with a 4-1 SCC victory over Jonathan Law at Quigley Stadium.
With its third consecutive win, the Green Knights improved to 9-8 with a full compliment of games remaining this week.
“We still have a chance to make the SCC tournament and we want to get as best a seed as we can for the state tournament,” Notre Dame coach Don Martone said. “Some guys have never been in this situation before. We have to fight every inning of every game.”
The Green Knights turned to Dylan Reynolds on the mound. All the senior did was respond with a gem on the hill, tossing a complete-game six-hitter, striking out nine and walking just one Law batter.
“I just tried to pound the zone and throw strikes,” Reynolds said. “If they put the ball in play, I have a great defense behind me.
“We want to get as best a seed as we can. We want to get hot and peak at the right time. We want to be playing our best baseball at the right time.”
The Green Knights had to rally back to break an early tie to win their third in a row. With the game even at one in the third inning, the Green Knights took advantage of Law’s second error of the game to take a 3-1 lead.
After Law starter Kyle Frey retired the first two batters in the third inning, Zach Ardito and Reynolds singled, and Frank Longley walked to load the bases. Frey looked as if he would get out of the inning when he got Michael Piechota to ground to first, but the throw by Nash Ericson to Frey at first sailed wide, allowing Ardito and Reynolds to score for the 3-1 advantage.
“That has not been the case all year,” Law coach Greg Simler said of his team’s defense after falling to 9-9. “This is the first time this has happened all year. We have relied on our pitching and defense.
“We needed our offense today to pick us up, but he (Reynolds) did a nice job out there. He made adjustments to his pitch selection. It was never the same each time around.”
Law’s third error of the game produced another Notre Dame run in the fourth inning to give the Green Knights a 4-1 lead. With two outs, Reynolds walked and Longley singled to put two runners in scoring position as Longley went to second on the throw when Reynolds moved to third.
Simler brought in Nathan Merchant to pitch and Merchant looked as if he would escape without any damage on just one pitch. Piechota’s grounder to second was thrown away, allowing Reynolds to score for an insurance run for the Green Knights.
“That’s a scrappy team over there,” Martone said of Law. “That’s a good team. They just beat Fairfield Prep the other day. We took advantage of their mistakes today.”
The Green Knights scored first in the game, taking a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Piechota led off with a walk, stole second, moved to third on an error and scored on Mike Dzickowski’s sacrifice fly to center.
Law answered in the top of the third with a single run to even the game as Jack Lawless struck out, but reached on a wild pitch. Lawless moved to second on a sacrifice by Tom Marchitto and scored on Frank Mucciacciaro’s single.
Mucciacciaro led Law with two hits. Ardito had two hits for the Green Knights.