BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
NEW LONDON – The Burlington Notre Dame Nikes held HTC to just one hit in a 4-2 loss Tuesday ending the Crusaders’ season.
The twos team played for the third time this year, splitting the previous two meetings before meeting in District 10 play at New London to highlight Class 1A district baseball action.
Holy Trinity scored the first run of the game in a crazy top of the second after Garrett Hannum was plunked by the Nikes’ sophomore hurler Mitchell Brent. Hannum swiped second and then freshman Cole Thornton drew what appeared to be a walk. Notre Dame Coach Jeff Kline contested the call as he had a 3-2 count after the home plate umpire gave Thornton the base on a fourth ball that got passed Notre Dame’s catcher allowing Hannum to move to third.
After Kline contested, home plate umpire Patrick Weber then conferred with the field umpire and Thornton was then called out on strikes because the field umpire thought a squared bunt attempt by Thornton had been called a strike, which would have been the third strike. After Thornton was called out and Hannum was sent back to second, HTC coach Albert Schinstock conferred with officials and the officials went to the official scorebook which had Thornton at 3-1 before the wild pitch.
Weber then gave Thornton first base again and Hannum was allowed to move ahead to third. Chandler Rung would strike out in the next at bat. Quentin Schneider drew a walk to load the bases and then Jason Thurman was hit in the back with a fastball scoring Hannum. Reed Fehseke fanned in the next at bat to end the inning stranding three Crusaders.
The Nikes would get the run back in the bottom half of the inning when Brent tripled to deep center then scored on an RBI single by Trenton Blythe that cleared Schneider’s head in center. Thornton got Brady Oleson to fly out to right field, but then hit Ryle Koenig prompting Schinstock to pull Thornton in favor of Jason Thurman. Thurman retired the next two hitters to end the innning.
The Crusaders would score again in the top of the third when Collin Thornton was hit by Brent and Kyle Bredemeyer walked. Thornton would swipe third on a dropped ball by Notre Dame’s catcher and then scored when Hannum hit a bouncing grounder that went off Brent’s glove at the mound and dribbled to short allowing everyone to advance. Cole Thornton then hit into a fielders choice forcing Bredemeyer at third and Rung struck out to end the threat with HTC up 2-1.
Both teams were held quiet until the bottom of the 5th. The Nikes’ Drew Chiprez singled to left to start the inning. Thurman caught Chiprez leaning and forced a run down between first and second but a throw from Hannum to Vason Thurman at home was late and Chiprez was able to slip back into first. He was then moved to second on a Lucas Anderson sacrifice bunt. Nick Skerik flew out to center advancing Chiprez to third. With Brent coming to the plate, Schinstock had the Crusaders intentionally pass Brent to get to Blythe. Brent swiped second and then Blythe, who ripped a single just past the outstretched glove of Hannum, to score Chiprez and Brent to give the Nikes a 3-2 lead.
Schinstock said that was probably the turning point in the game.
“I probably shouldn’t have intentionally walked that guy. I mean he was the best hitter and we had the open base, but I’m second guessing that,” Schinstock said after the game.
Notre Dame added a run in the bottom of the sixth when Carson Chiprez scored on a sacrifice fly by Anderson to right field. Drew Chiprez had moved Carson Chiprez to third when his long drive to center bounced over the fence.
Senior Collin Thornton said he was happy with his senior year on the team and was proud the team broke the school record for wins.
“It was the best year I’ve had so far as a team. It was awesome breaking the school wins record and I think the team has a bright future with all the young talent we have. I think if they work hard they’ll win a lot of games.”
Schinstock said with the youth on his team, next year could be very good.
“I guess we can look at the season and say we had the best season in school history, and feel good about ourselves,” Schinstock said. “Or we can come out next year and hopefully get better because I definitely think we can be a better team as long as they put the extra work in.”
The Crusaders end the year 7-17. Notre Dame advances to play the winner of the Danville-New London game played in the nightcap at New London.