Split With Cabrini Helps Irish Secure CHSL Playoff Spot

At the beginning of each season its been a key goal of every Catholic League team to earn a spot in the playoffs and have the chance to play in the finals at Comerica Park. After losing game one 5-3 to Cabrini on Tuesday, the Irish truly had their backs to the wall in that quest. Thanks to putting forth what skipper Darren Audia called “our most complete team effort of the season”, the Notre Dame Varsity Baseball team carved out a 6-0 win in game two and took care of step one: making the Catholic League Playoffs.   The visitors from Allen Park arrived deadlocked with the Irish for the last playoff spot with record and head to head run differential being the final deciding points. Game one began in miserable conditions and Notre Dame starter Kory Czajkowski and Cabrini’s Colin O’Reilly both struggled with control in the early going. The Irish built a 3-1 lead after three innings on the strength of a two run single by centerfielder Joey Agro. In the fifth inning, Cabrini picked up four unearned runs after stringing some clutch hits together wrapped around a throwing error and two walks. They added their only earned run in the seventh inning on a fielder’s choice.   Czajkowski went the distance for Notre Dame giving up the one earned run on eight hits and six walks and took the loss. “Kory battled out there and gave us a chance to win on a day when he didn’t have his best stuff,” said Audia.  O’Reilly earned the complete game win for Cabrini giving up two earned runs on six hits and four walks. The Irish offense in game one was led by Agro who had a double to go with his two run single and leftfielder Andrew Carpenter who had a double and single in four trips. The stage was set for the most important game of the season thus far and freshman pitcher River Shea and his teammates were up to the task. Shea was exceptional going six and one third innings to earn the win and the defense played behind him included two double plays and two runners cut down at the plate with perfect throws.  The Irish were clinging to a 1-0 lead when Cabrini loaded the bases with one out when the first play at the plate occurred with shortstop Czajkowski fielding a ground ball and firing a strike to catcher Ryan Knutson who applied a perfect tag for out number two. Shea then lodged the final out to end that threat. After Notre Dame stretched its lead to 3-0 in the fifth inning, centerfielder Agro made the defensive play of the game when on what appeared to be a an RBI single with two outs in the sixth inning. His laser to the plate easily cut down the runner to end the inning. Knutson’s two run single and a sacrifice fly by Brett Peiper in the bottom of the sixth inning added three critically needed runs as the Shea entered the seventh.  Cabrini didn’t go quietly as Shea gave up a hit and a walk with one out in the seventh. Sophomore lefty Matt Pezolt entered and after walking the first hitter he faced to load the bases, struck out clean-up hitter Peyton Harding and five hitter Jared Kling to end the game and preserve the shutout win. “That was far and away our best played game of the year. Great pitching and defense and great at bats at critical times, “ said Audia. “We were down to literally our last breath in the Catholic League and time and time again someone stepped up to make a play. That was a special win”, added Audia.  Knutson led the offense with a 3-4 performance that included a double and three RBIs while shortstop Czajkowski was 3-3 with a double.

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