by Randall Jett
PHILIPPI - Notre Dame wrapped up the Class A, Region II Section 2 title with a 3-0 victory over Tygarts Valley at Battler Stadium Monday. The no. eight-ranked Irish continued to rely on their excellent pitching staff as Jon Thomas pitched a four-hit, complete game gem. Thomas dominated the Bulldogs, striking out 12 and walking none.
"Today was just another outstanding performance by our pitchers in this tournament," ND coach Mark Starkey said. "We've won 10-1, 12-3, and today 3-0. All three pitchers - everyone asks me who our ace is - I think they're all aces. At any time, I would pitch any of the three against anybody and have a lot of confidence."
In their three sectional games, the Irish staff combined to strike out 43 batters and allow 12 hits while walking only one batter.
Notre Dame (22-7) got their first run courtesy of two Bulldog errors in the first inning. Matt Perkins reached on a lead-off walk. Perkins stole second on the next pitch and went to third base on a botched pick-off attempt. With one out, Perkins charged home as Tyler Musgrave went to first on Tygarts Valley's (10-9) second throwing error.
Up 1-0, the Irish would add two insurance runs in the fourth inning. Musgrave led off the inning by beating out an infield hit. Musgrave stole second base and went to third on an error. Trey Simmerman followed that with a double off the center field fence to plate Musgrave. Simmerman went to third on a passed ball and scored the final run on a Vic Shaffer sacrifice fly to center.
That was all the runs that Thomas would need as he struck out six over the final three inning, including the final three batters he faced.
The Bulldogs' Ritchie Bennett pitched a solid game in the loss, allowing five hits and one walk while striking out five, but his defense earned four costly errors behind him that contributed to their elimination.
"Their pitcher did a very good job of keeping us off balance," Starkey said. "He's a pretty good pitcher but we got enough runs and ran the bases well and we made some really good plays in the outfield."
The Bulldogs Wes Barrackman was the only player with a multiple-hit game, going 2 for 3 with a stolen base.
The Irish now await the winner of Clay-Battelle/Hundred contest. Notre Dame will play the winner at South Harrison on Tuesday, May 27.