BASEBALL: Pontiac NDP thumps Shrine, makes reservations for Comerica for second straight year
LIVONIA — A season ago, a young Pontiac Notre Dame Prep squad had its first taste of the Catholic League Finals, falling at the hands of Madison Heights Bishop Foley.
Now, the Irish are back for more.
NDP (19-5) easily disposed of Royal Oak Shrine Saturday in the CHSL semifinals, picking up a 9-0 win over the Knights at Madonna University and will once again face Bishop Foley in the CHSL championship game at 10:00 am at Comerica Park on Thursday
Fighting Irish head coach Darren Audia believes his team fares better against a pitcher the second time around in the schedule, as was the case Saturday against Shrine.
“I was telling the guys that the quicker we can flip over this lineup, the better it’s going to be for us,” he said. “We’ve struggled with guys who throw like that from the left side, but once we see them a second time, we start to get going. I was just waiting for the lineup to flip over and I knew we’d be okay.”
After a quiet first two innings, the Irish bats erupted in the third inning as Notre Dame Prep took a 5-0 lead after a pair of two-RBI doubles from Luke Shilling and Jacob DePillo and another RBI double from starting pitcher William Mullen.
That would be all of the run support Mullen would need as he silenced the Shrine bats all game long, striking out 10 batters, including the first three he faced, and surrendered just five hits on the afternoon.
“I’ve been here before, I pitched here last year,” said Mullen of his outing. “I got into trouble when I couldn’t command my fast ball later in the game, I started to get a little relaxed, you could say when we were up 8-0. It’s a little frustrating when you lose control, but I got through it, I started throwing strikes and got some groundouts when I needed them and it was a successful day.”
Following DePillo drove in another run on an RBI single in the fifth, Mullen once again helped his own cause as he connected for another double to drive in two more runs to push the lead to 8-0 and the Irish would later inflate the lead to 9-0 when Shilling drove in his third run of the game on a RBI single.
Shrine skipper Dan Noble tipped his hat to Notre Dame Prep for doing a good job of taking advantage of its opportunities Saturday in the tourney showdown, while adding his squad just couldn’t quite make enough plays on the day.
“(Starting pitcher) Mike (Cobbledick) has very good control of all of his pitches and he did for his first couple of innings and when he does that, he’s very tough to hit when he’s throwing his offspeed for strikes,” he said. “And that got away from him just a hair and they (Notre Dame Prep) were able to jump on it. They take advantage of a couple of walks, a bunt down the line that stayed fair and they took advantage of their opportunities and maybe we got a little bit unlucky, but we weren’t able to make enough plays.”