Notre Dame fails in bid for state tournament
By Greg Bates
SEYMOUR — After the Notre Dame Academy baseball team lost seven straight games in early May, things looked grim.
However, winning six of its next nine games propelled the Tritons into the playoffs on a high note.
Notre Dame came running, earning four playoff wins.
They weren’t expected to play for a berth in a state tournament, but there they were in a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Division 2 sectional final on Tuesday afternoon.
What fueled the Tritons in their playoff push — solid throwing and timely striking — went unheeded against No. 1-ranked Denmark.
Notre Dame’s pitchers gave up 10 steps and the defense committed five errors as Denmark took advantage to claim a 6-0 win at Rock Ledge Park.
“The kids are disappointed,” Notre Dame head coach Jared Barker said. “At the start of the year, our goal was to get into the state and win the conference; it was always on their minds. Then we had a tough mid-season where we crashed seven times in a row – that tested us. They bounced back well. »
A five-run second inning by the Vikings doomed the Tritons.
“I think after taking the lead, we put our heads down,” Notre Dame senior Caden Capomaccio said. “We didn’t use some opportunities to our advantage and we didn’t succeed.”
Denmark, the defending Division 2 state champions, had just four hits.
Notre Dame collected two singles and left five runners on base.
The Tritons only had one base runner who reached second place the entire game.
The Notre Dame Deuce Musial II starting pitcher struggled to find the strike zone.
The junior walked three times in the first run before coming out of a jam.
However, he wasn’t so lucky in the second.
A hit-and-go, walk, and bunt that resulted in an error charged Denmark’s goals with no one coming out.
Another step tackled the first set.
An errant throw to first base brought two more runs.
That’s when Denmark’s Hayden Konkol came in and hit a two-run single to the right to make it 5-0.
At that time, Barker went to his bullpen in favor of Donatello Badalamenti.
He got out of trouble, but the damage was done.
“It was uncharacteristic, especially in Deuce’s last five starts – he’s been outstanding,” Barker said. “For him to struggle a little was not the game plan at all. One hit, a few walks, a few errors – we gave them five runs. But the guys did a good job, I’m proud of that. “Them. They kept them just one more run away for the rest of the game. They let us try to get back there, but the bats didn’t work today.
Notre Dame (16-13) opened the end of the second inning with a Cade Milton single.
A two-out walk from Evan Duncan mounted a threat.
However, both runners were stuck.
It was the only time the Tritons had a runner in scoring position.
Denmark (26-3) scored an unearned run in the fifth.
Vikings starting pitcher Ethan Ovsak went 6 1/3 innings and struck out seven.
The junior didn’t have any crushing tricks, but he unbalanced Notre Dame hitters.
“He situated well,” said Capomaccio, who will be moving to the University of Minnesota to play baseball. “He used his shots to his advantage.”
The loss ended the careers of four Notre Dame players: Capomaccio, Duncan, Milton and Nick Bumgardner.
“It’s not every year when you have a group of seniors where everyone starts,” Barker said. “Some years you (a lot) of seniors and only a few of them are playing, but this year we had four seniors and all four of them started just about every game we played. They meant a lot to the program.
The four eldest were the main contributors.
Capomaccio said he believed the group would leave a strong legacy.
“Leaving Cade (Milton) and me as captains, I think that leadership that we’ve built will translate into next year,” he said.
Notre Dame’s run to the Division Finals is the program’s deepest since 2015, when it fell in the Division 2 title game.
Barker said he hoped the youngsters would come back for a taste of the section final and wanted to take at least one more step next season.
“They’re going to work hard and they’re going to be ready to go,” he said. “That’s what they did for this program – they put a new taste in their mouths, and now they have something to aim for.”