WAVERLY MISSES CHANCE TO CAPITALIZE ON OPPORTUNITIES AS THEY FALL TO NOTRE DAME, ACE STEWART
By: Brian Fees | Waverly Athletics | May 2, 2022 | Photo courtesy Brian Fees
SOUTHPORT — The Waverly baseball team knew they faced a tough test against Notre Dame ace Owen Stewart on Monday.
The Wolverines had their chances early in the game, but Stewart was able to get out of some jams and in the Notre Dame offense used a seven-run second inning in an 11-2 Crusaders win.
“They are a rival and they are a well coached team,” Waverly coach Kyle McDuffee said. “Owen did a nice job on the mound. We thought we had an opportunity to get him in the first inning and then the third we had bases loaded and we couldn’t get runs across.
“Owen is just a quality pitcher. We have been seeing quality pitchers in our tough schedule we have had. It’s one game, we have two more games left to go and we are looking forward to playing those two games and we’ll see how these guys respond.”
The win on Monday puts Notre Dame one game up in the division race. But, the teams have two more matchups this week to help decide the division.
“Which makes this schedule really exciting, doesn’t it?” McDuffee said. “Because now our back is against the wall and we’ll see how we respond. We love the schedule the way it is and I think this is what baseball is about.”
On Monday it was the Owen Stewart show, a show that’s been a hit all season long.
Stewart threw 6 1/3 innings, striking out 12 and walking three, while allowing just one hit, and an unearned run on the mound. The game continues one of the best seasons by an IAC pitcher in a long time. Owen has now thrown 38 2/3 innings, striking out 90 batters, while allowing just nine hits and one earned run.
“I feel great, it’s great to beat that team like we did,” Stewart said. “We haven’t beaten that team since my seventh grade year and I wanted it really bad.”
The Wolverines had their chances early as the three Stewart walks, and four Notre Dame errors, led to runners on base for Waverly early in the game.
As the game wore on Stewart became more and more dominant for the Crusaders.
“He started cruising and he started settling in,” McDuffee said. “He’s a quality pitcher, I think we’ll be reading about him the things in his college days to. Other than that, we have a bunch of good ball players here and it wasn’t our day today.”
For Notre Dame the second inning proved to be the big difference. Steven Gough started things with a big double, but it was some Waverly miscues that helped the score grow as Waverly gave up four unearned runs in the inning.
“That was great, my teammates were swinging the bat and it just felt great going out there and being able to pound the zone, it feels nice,” Stewart said.
“I didn’t start swinging the bat until later in the games, so that’s all on my teammates, they went out there and produced. They did a good job.”
The second inning hurt the Wolverines, but McDuffee was happy to see the team settle down after that as Joey Tomasso put zeroes on the board the next three innings.
“There were some unearned runs there,” McDuffee said of the second inning. “We made some mistakes, some key mistakes in a big game and a team like that is going to respond to those mistakes and it kept Joey on the mound longer.
“I give Thomas Hand a great deal of credit, the came in, he did what he needed to do. He took his lumps and threw strikes and got us out.”
For the Crusaders Monday was a special game.
“It feels great, we haven’t beaten them since my seventh grade year in modified, so it feels great,” Stewart said.
The Crusaders had nine hits in the game with Logan Meisner going 3-for-4 with a triple, three RBI and a run scored and Stewart had two hits, with a triple, two RBI and two runs scored.
Steven Gough had two hits, with a double, and a run scored and Cam Johnson and Tyler Richards each had hits in the game. Richards had two RBI and two runs scored and Johnson scored two runs.
Jahmeire Keyser scored two runs in the game. Gough got the final two outs for Notre Dame, with a strikeout, allowing one unearned run.
Tomasso struck out seven over five innings of six-hit ball, allowing seven runs, just three earned. Hand struck out one allowing three hits and four runs in the final inning.
Bryce Bailey had the Waverly hit.
Everything now comes down to Wednesday, a Notre Dame win gives them the division title, a Waverly win and everything comes down to Friday back at Notre Dame.
“It’s going to be a battle, but we are ready,” Stewart said.
For Waverly, as tough as Monday was, they got through it without using some of their top arms, who are all available the next two games.
“This is going to be a good little series, it’s down to two,” McDuffee said. “We have Caden (Hollywood), we have Ty (Beeman) and we have Jay (Pipher), we have our three top pitchers getting ready to go, so we’ll see how it all pans out. It’s going to be exciting.”