Notre Dame rallies from five runs down in district semifinal to end Perryville's season yet again

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Nobody in a Notre Dame baseball uniform knows anything other than winning a district title, so when it looked like that might change, the Bulldogs did something about it.

Second-seeded Notre Dame rallied from five runs down, got a momentum-swinging inside-the-park home run from Trevor Haas and a shutdown relief effort from ace Will Ferrell to break the hearts of Perryville yet again, 8-6, in a Class 4 District 1 semifinal Monday at Notre Dame Regional High School.

The victory sends the Bulldogs to today's district title game against top seed Sikeston.

"It was pretty huge to come out there like that," said Haas, a senior. "Since my freshman year we've won districts at varsity, and it just felt like we had to keep that tradition going, rally the troops and get them fired up."

Notre Dame (15-9) has ended the Pirates' season in each of the last four seasons, going on to win the district title each of those years.

"Of course [our players] are disappointed that we lost after getting out to a 6-1 lead, I guess it was," Perryville coach Jeff Steffens said. "In the course of the game, looking back at those first three innings it felt like every call was a call that somehow went against us ... which starts playing in the kids' heads. You've got to fight -- we're not going to get anything. We've got to win it ourselves.

"When they made the pitching change we quit making contact and putting the ball in play to make things happen. When you don't have base runners on it's kind of hard to press and force situations. You've got to play the game and make them field the ball a whole 21 outs."

The Bulldogs had four errors in the first three innings and general defensive sloppiness let Perryville (15-7) take a 6-1 lead after three innings.

But with one out in the top of the third inning, Notre Dame went from starting pitcher Reid James to Ferrell, who sat down the next 10 batters he faced as his team clawed back into the game.

Ferrell finished the game with 4 2/3 shutout innings in relief, giving up three hits, striking out 10 and walking one to pick up the win on the mound.

"Just phenomenal," Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett said. " ... To be ready to answer the bell the way he did was just phenomenal. He gave us a great outing on Saturday, kept his pitch count down and came back and did that today."

The Pirates didn't get another base runner until the top of the sixth inning, and by that time they were trailing.

Notre Dame got its offensive spark in the bottom of the third, when Haas led off the frame by taking a 2-2 pitch high to right field. As Perryville's outfielders stood, staring at the night sky, the ball fell behind them near the warning track. Even while pausing to look over his shoulder as he rounded second base, Haas crossed home plate standing up.

"I always try to hustle and get to second just in case it drops in that situation," Haas said. "I heard people in the dugout saying, 'Oh, he can't find it. Keep going, Trev.' I rounded second and looked back and I saw they were both looking, and I just kept running, kept hustling.

"It definitely got us going. I thank God for that one, you know? He just put it in the right spot and the outfielder couldn't find it. That was all him."

Despite remaining in a four-run hole, the Bulldogs seemed to gain energy from the play, and that turned into two runs in the fourth inning and another four in the fifth, with Noah Brown sending a single through the left side of the infield to drive in the game-winning run.

It was a bit of redemption for Brown, who finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, after an error and a bobbled ball contributed to a three-run second inning for Perryville.

"That's a fire I haven't seen from him since his freshman year," Graviett said. "He'd come up and really established himself as one of our better JV players as a freshman -- he had that fiery attitude. It took a few errors to get down with that, and he found it. ... He come back and battled and came up with two big hits for us today. We're gonna need this type of emotion from these guys if we're going to tackle a big hill with Sikeston tomorrow."

Haas was also 2-for-3 for the Bulldogs, with three RBIs, a double, a run scored and a sacrifice fly. Garrett Siebert added two hits, including a double, and a stolen base for the hosts.

Devyn Terbrak took the loss for Perryville, pitching 4 1/3 innings and giving up seven runs -- six earned -- on five hits with six strikeouts and five walks. Trent Unterreiner threw 1 2/3 innings in relief for the Pirates, allowing one run on four hits with two strikeouts and a walk.

"They really weren't hitting the ball hard until the end of the game," Steffens said. "Everything seemed to be soft liners, balls were finding the holes. Devyn was our best pitcher -- he had the best ERA coming in, one-point-something. He did good. They made him throw his pitches, and we had to make the pitching change when he gets to the 105-pitch rule."

Garrett Dix was 2-for-3 with two runs batted in for the Pirates. Derek Kirn was 2-for-4 and Aaron Mueller was 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.

The teams traded runs in the first inning, but the Pirates took the lead in the top of the second, punishing the Bulldogs for shaky defense.

Jerome Simpson and Joel Daugherty hit back-to-back singles to open the inning, and Kwaid Fears drew a six-pitch walk to load the bases with no outs. James got a strikeout for out No. 1, but Mueller came to the plate and put a ground ball to second base, where a bobbled ball ended hopes of an inning-ending double play, allowed a run to score and forced Notre Dame to settle for one out.

That play haunted the hosts even more when a ground ball from Trent Steffens turned into an error and another run scored.

Dix then drove in Fears with an infield single for a 4-1 advantage.

That lead was stretched to 6-1 in the top of the third when Fears drove in two more runs and chased James from the game.

While Ferrell changed momentum defensively, Haas did so offensively, as his inside-the-park homer in the bottom half of the inning cut the deficit to 6-2 after three.

"They didn't even see the ball come off the bat," Steffens said of his outfielders. "They had no idea where the ball was at the time. You've got to play through those situations and unfortunately that one went against us there."

There was still a hill to climb, but it was a start, and the Bulldogs rode that momentum into the bottom of the fourth, as Terbrak struggled with his control. A pair of walks set up a one-out RBI double by Brown before Haas plated another run with a sac fly, cutting the gap to 6-4.

The hosts finally moved in front in the bottom of the fifth inning. With one out, Winston Welter walked, Nick Lindsay singled and Layne Robinson fouled off pitches to the tune of a 12-pitch walk that loaded the bases and chased Terbrak from the game.

Arnzen then lifted a soft liner between second and third base to push in two runs and tie things at 6-6.

With two outs, Brown hit an RBI single to left field to give Notre Dame the lead for the first time in the game. Haas added to that one batter later with a run-scoring double and an 8-6 lead after five innings.

Perryville threatened in the top of the sixth inning, as the Pirates loaded the bases with two outs, but Ferrell got his third strikeout of the inning to escape unscathed.

"I wanted them to take ownership of their mistakes and quit pointing fingers and blaming other people," Graviett said. "When things are going bad somebody's got to accept it and move on. Just that challenge. 'Hey, you don't want to leave it this way. This isn't how you want it to end. Find a way to go out there and compete and leave it all out on the field.'

"I didn't know if we had that in us with the way that guy was throwing the baseball, but those guys answered the bell and battled back and that's a big win today."

Graviett said he will decide between Brown and Dill to start the championship game -- with both pitching at some point -- which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at Notre Dame Regional High School.

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WP -- Will Ferrell. LP -- Devyn Terbrak. 2B -- Trevor Haas (ND), Garrett Siebert (ND). HR -- Haas. Multiple hits -- Perryville: Garrett Dix 2-3, Derek Kirn 2-4; Notre Dame: Haas 2-3, Siebert 2-4, Noah Brown 2-3.

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