Miller time refreshing for Irish
CHARLESTON — In the bottom of the sixth inning, things started to look very ominous for Notre Dame’s baseball team.
What was once a 9-2 lead had been trimmed to 9-5. The Irish had walked the bases loaded with one out in the sixth and the meat of Gilmer County’s lineup was coming to the plate.
That’s when it became Miller time.
The Irish brought in Jordan Miller — one of two stellar pitchers on the roster — to come in and shut the door.
He induced a run-scoring fielder’s choice before getting out of the frame with a threerun lead intact. The Irish scored six runs in the top of the seventh to earn a 15-6 win.
“Jordan did a nice job of coming in and shutting the door,” Notre Dame coach Patrick Marozzi said. “We’ve got a lot of pitching that we’re fortunate to have, and whatever we have to do to win the game, we’ll use whoever we have to go to get it.” The situation might have exorcised some demons for the Irish, who were just three outs away from a state championship game appearance last season before walking the bases loaded and eventually falling to Magnolia.
"I can't imagine that it wouldn't, I don't care what team you are," Marozzi said. "You were three outs away from playing for a state championship a year ago and walked the bases loaded and just didn't get it done. Yeah, that's something we thought a lot about in the offseason and worked extremely hard to get where we are at finally on Sat u rd ay."
GOLDEN GRIFFIN: Ma n pitcher Braden Griffin nearly beat St. Marys all by himself on Thursday night.
Griffin went 6.1 innings and allowed just three hits while going 3-for-3 at the plate to lead the Hillbillies to a 3-1 win over St. Marys.
The junior left-hander mixed a fastball with movement and a nasty curveball to keep the powerful St. Marys hitters off-balance.
"We just moved our pitches from the inside to the outside and bounced it back and forth," Griffin said. "Every time we went through the lineup, we switched it up. It managed to get them off just enough to keep them down." Griffin also credited his defense for playing extremely well in the field. St. Marys' lone run was set up by the Hillbillies' only error of the game, but there were also some brilliant plays in the field that aided Man in the win.
Noah Maynard made a diving stop early in the contest to save extra bases down the first base line while Baley Beckwith also made a sprawling catch in the seventh while tripping over the bullpen mound in foul territory down the right field line.
"I didn't have my greatest night tonight, but we managed to pull the win," Griffin said. "My defense played a great game."
DEVIL OF A TIME: Prior to the 3-1 loss to Man, St. Marys came into the contest at 29-2 and had not lost to a Class A team all season, with the lone losses coming to Class AA teams Ravenswood and Br idgepor t .
The Blue Devils had been limited to six runs or less on one occasion this season - that being a 2-1 win over Gilmer County on May 8. St. Marys had reached double figures in 20 of 31 contests coming into the game.
GOFF SHOT: Notre Dame pinch-hitter Justin Goff certainly made the most of his opportunity in the batter's box during Thursday's opening game in the Class A tourn a ment .
Goff, who was hitting for catcher Spencer Harlow, smashed a crucial two-run double to extend Notre Dame's lead in the win over Gilmer County.
"Honestly, I thought it was the play of the game for us," Marozzi said. "I thought it blew it open really and put a lot of pressure on them" Goff's double came just one pitch after he had sent a suicide squeeze attempt foul with one strike.
Needless to say, Marozzi thought Goff made up for the failed attempt.
"He's probably our best bunter, but I don't care who you are, laying a squeeze down is not easy," Marozzi said. "He did a nice job making up for it and driving one to the wall. We'll take it."
Grant Traylor is a sports writer for The Herald-Dispatch. He can be reached by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (304) 526-2759. Follow him on Twitter (@GrantTraylor).
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