BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Notre Dame’s Mitchell Brent came into Saturday’s game with Fort Madison sporting a perfect 3-0 record and a 0.00 earned run average, but the Bloodhounds smeared his perfection with a 5-4 win to highlight boys baseball action.
A four-run 5th inning rally was the key to come-from-behind Bloodhound win as Fort Madison worked Brent’s pitch count in the early innings and then chased him from the game in the 5th.
“We knew we had to work the counts and have a plan at the plate and get his pitch count up. We did a good job of that the first few innings,” head coach Ron Walker said.
The Bloodhounds were trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the third and it looked like Brent had things under control, but Jordyn Gerdes took a ball off the uniform with two outs and nobody on. He swiped second and then advanced to third on a throwing error. He would score a couple pitches later on wild pitch from Brent.
“Gerdes worked that count again and then wore the pitch and that seemed to rattle Brent a little,” Walker said. “Then he scored on the wild pitch and I think that may have unsettled him.”
Brent fanned Brandon Reichelt on four pitches in the next at bat to prevent any further damage.
Gerdes, who was the Hound on the mound to start the game, settled in after giving up a run in the first sparked by a lead-off triple, and three more runs in the top of the fourth. He would hit a batter and walk a batter in the fifth, but picked them both off on the basepaths to wipe out a potential inning for Notre Dame.
Jason Thurman came on in relief and shut down the Nikes causing three straight ground outs in the sixth inning and three straight fly outs in the seventh to end the game.
The Hounds big inning came with back-to-back walks to start the fifth inning from Tate Johnson and Jace Burgher. Johnson would advance to second and third off a couple wild pitches by Brent.
Brent would fan Landes Williams for the first out. Burgher would then advance to second on a passed ball and Jason Thurman would draw a full-count walk to load the bases for senior Jordyn Gerdes who laced a single to center scoring Johnson and Burgher and moving Thurman to second, cutting the lead to 4-3.
Brandon Reichelt then touched Brent’s first pitch for another single to left center to load the bases as Thurman was held up at third. Vasin Thurman would then ground out to deep short allowing Jason Thurman to tie the game at 4 and moving Gerdes to third with two outs.
Brent would then skip another pitch passed the catcher for a wild pitch that amounted to allowing the game winning run in Gerdes. Reed Fehseke would walk and steal second to keep the inning going, but Dayne Cordray would go down swinging on a 10-pitch at bat to end the fifth.
Walker said Johnson’s at bat to lead off the fifth was the catalyst for the inning.
“Tate Johnson had a stellar at-bat opening the fifth taking nine pitches and that got contagious and the guys started working hard at the plate,” Walker said. “And then Dayne had a 10 pitch at bat before going down swinging and that was impressive watching him battle there.”
Notre Dame head coach Chris Chiprez had seen his ace throw enough and brought in Jerron Conner for the sixth inning.
“It’s a huge win. Coach Chiprez does a great job in his first year with the team,” Walker said. “I heard the kids talking and saying they’d never beat Notre Dame. And here we are again, they were down 4-0 and found a way to come back and win.
“I couldn’t be happier with this group of kids and they believe in themselves. When we first started practicing this year, after about an hour they would lose focus and you could see it was too much. Then the next thing I knew they wanted to practice at 5:30 in the morning.”
He said the winning is starting to show in the stands too.
“Our crowd was amazing tonight. I couldn’t be anymore thrilled for the support were getting from the fans,” he said.
The Hounds move back over .500 and stand at 8-7 on the year. They host Mt. Pleasant on Monday night for another double header.
Reichelt is leading Fort Madison at the plate hitting .406 on the year despite missing some games last week due to illness. Fehseke is hitting .349 and Gerdes is at .341 on the year. Reichelt also leads the team with 17 RBI. Fehseke and Cordray each have a dozen.
From the mound, Cordray and Jason Thurman are both are 2-1 on the year. Cordray has a stingy 0.98 ERA to lead Fort Madison hurlers. Jason Thurman is right behind at 1.08 and freshman Landes Williams who’s 1-1 on the year has a 1.31 ERA.