MIDDLETOWN >> Notre Dame-West Haven lost in the state semifinals last year. The Green Knights’ mission was to get back to the title game.
In a sloppy game, fourth-seeded Notre Dame outlasted 17th-seeded East Lyme 2-1 in the semifinals Tuesday at Palmer Field.
“We knew what the ultimate goal was,” said Notre Dame coach Lou Kessler. “It was to get to the championship. Nothing else would have been satisfying. But we’ve still got some work ahead of us.”
Notre Dame will play No. 14 Masuk, a 7-2 winner over Law, at Palmer Field at a date and time to be determined.
The Green Knights (20-5) managed just one hit in the victory, but East Lyme contributed to their cause with five errors. Despite the season-ending loss, Vikings coach Jack Biggs said his team played well enough to win, but didn’t make timely plays.
“It was the perfect East Lyme game,” Biggs said. “We’ve won many one-run games.”
John Amendola, who entered in the sixth inning to pick up the save, said getting back to the title game was a big deal, but not focusing on it was important.
“We really didn’t talk about how we’re going to make it back,” Amendola said. “We just saw this as another game. We’re going out here, we’re having fun and we’re doing what we love.”
A focused, loose Green Knights group took advantage of every East Lyme miscue. Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead in the second inning after Zack Balabon singled and Mike Corso reached on an error by first baseman Connor Elliott. Evan Lumpinski then hit a sacrifice fly to plate Balabon.
The Green Knights didn’t hold the slim lead for long. In the third inning, starter Anthony Rovasio labored through a 31-pitch frame where he walked the bases loaded and then walked Elliott to force in Mike Morgan. Rovasio finished with five strikeouts and the four walks on 82 pitches in four innings.
“We knew how much (Rovasio) would give us,” Kessler said. “He gave us just enough. He gave us four innings in the second round and four innings in the semifinals. We needed that.”
Rovasio would get the win thanks to another East Lyme error. With one out in the fourth inning, Corso reached on an error by third baseman Bennett Coe. Corso stole second after Lumpinski went down swinging. Andrew Natale then hit a routine grounder to shortstop Ryan Nickerson, but Nickerson threw it away and Corso scored to push the Green Knights ahead 2-1.
With their first goal down — getting back to the title game — the Green Knights are now focused on goal No. 2.
“We want to win it all,” Amendola said. “We realize how close we are right now.”