GRAND CHUTE - When the postseason started the Notre Dame baseball team had a 9-10 record and few gave thought of the Tritons making a deep run in the Division 2 postseason, let alone make the state tournament.
But more than two weeks after the postseason started, Notre Dame found itself playing in the season's final
game of the year — the state chanpionship against Lodi.
The Tritons placed ninth in the Fox River Classic Conference, but here they were one game away from winning the school's first WIAA baseball title.
However, Lodi wasn't impressed. The Blue Devils outhit Notre Dame, 12-3, and that margin showed on the scoreboard as Notre Dame fell short of completing its impressive postseason run with a gold trophy.
Lodi scored four runs in the fifth inning and defeated the Tritons, 6-2, at Fox Cities Stadium. Despite the loss,
The Tritons knew they had much to be proud of.
"Just really proud of them," Notre Dame coach Andy Conard said. "We enjoyed this experience so much. Being down here in the environment on this field; the way this tournament is run, playing against quality opponents, we just soaked it up. We had so much fun. I'm proud of our guys and know they enjoyed the experience."
Notre Dame trailed, 1-0, before plating two runs in the bottom of the third on three hits. Then in the fourth,
Lodi had runners on second and third base with none out and failed to score.
It looked like it would be the Tritons' day, but in the fifth Lodi struck for four runs, which ultimately was the difference in the game.
"We got out of some pretty good jams," Conard said. "They set the table a couple times. Nick (Zacharias) made some big pitches. They're a real quality hitting team."
The loss was Notre Dame's first in a while, which says something. During the regular season, Notre Dame only had one winning streak longer than two games and that was four.
It hadn't shown the ability to string together a lot of wins in a row, until it mattered most. Notre Dame won five straight games before Thursday's loss, but Conard knew his team was capable.
"I knew we could," he said. "It was could we put consistently good games together? In order to get to this point,
you have to play consistently well. If you have one slip-up, your season's going to be over. To see us play the
way we did at the end of the year is very gratifying."
And Conard says his team was able to reach the state championship, in part, because of the FRCC. The Tritons play in a Division 1 conference and when it reaches the postseason all of sudden its playing on even ground in Division 2.
"Our league prepares us so well for the tournament," Conard said. "We know we have to be on top of our game against almost everybody in our league. When we get to the tournament, there isn't a lot we haven't faced in our league."
- Notes: Riley Christenson, Charlie Rotherham and Davis Elm each had one hit for the Tritons, who had all their hits in the third inning. ... Notre Dame finishes the season 14-11. ... This was Notre Dame's second state appearance, with the first coming in 2011, when it lost in a semifinal.
- Game ball: Rotherham, who had a hit, RBI and made a big defensive play at third base.
- Numbers game: 4 Run fifth inning does in Notre Dame.
For a complete boxscore, click link: http://http://www.wiaawi.org/Portals/0/PDF/Results/Baseball_Spring/2013/d2game3.htm
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
Two Oshkosh North players had to be taken off the field in ambulances after colliding in the Division 2 championship game Friday, but their injuries apparently are not as serious as first thought.
Despite all its dominance this season Shiocton entered Thursday's Division 6 state title football game with a healthy respect for Darlington.
Gov. Scott Walker still won't say whether he will sign a bill making it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames.