Nazareth's Robert Petrak gets back to first as Payton's John Connon chases down the throw. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 1, 2011 10:54PM
At first glance, it would appear Nazareth destroyed Payton with its bats in a 13-0 sectional semifinal victory Wednesday.
That wasn’t necessarily the case even though every Nazareth starter reached base and all but one scored a run. But the Roadrunners (32-5), the No. 1 seed in the Nazareth Sectional, collected only one extra-base hit against No. 6 Payton pitching to go along with nine singles, five bases on balls and five hit batsmen in the five-inning contest.
What turned the game in Nazareth’s favor, however, were key errors committed by the Grizzlies (16-13) when they could have possibly gotten out of the decisive second and third innings unscathed. Whenever something went wrong for Payton and starting pitcher Matt Murphy, the Roadrunners didn’t hesitate to take advantage of the opportunities.
“He (Murphy) deserved a better fate than that,” Nazareth assistant coach John Sime said. “He pitched well for the most part, but they made a lot of big errors behind him and that kind of got to him, I think.
“But our kids are good players. We take advantage of anything they (opponents) give us. And, we started to hit the ball once we got some guys on, which was good.”
After pitching out of a first-and-third jam with no outs and a second-and-third situation with two gone in the first, Payton’s defense and Murphy lost control in the second and third when Nazareth tallied 13 runs – all of which could have been avoided.
Meanwhile, junior pitcher Ryan Marske (9-0) kept his perfect season intact for Nazareth. He allowed just one hit, walked one and struck out seven.
“He (Marske) did a good job out there today,” Sime said. “It was kind of disappointing though that he gave up that one hit because we had a no-hitter in the first game of the tournament and then a perfect game in the second and Ryan hasn’t thrown a no-hitter this season.”
Marske said he was happy just to extend the Roadrunners’ season.
“It’s not a big deal,” said the southpaw Marske of not tossing a no-hitter. “I mean it would have been nice, but as long as we won and advanced to the next round that all that matters. Payton’s a better team than they showed today. We just came out ready. It’s a good win.
“We scouted them and saw that they could hit fastballs pretty well, so I worked in a lot of curveballs and as the game advanced I saw what they could and couldn’t hit. My defense also played great.
The same could not be said for Payton, which committed four errors in the game, three that proved very costly.
In the second frame, Rob Petrak and Pat Kelly singled with one out. Ninth-hitter Matt Radford (2 hits, 2 runs, 2 RBI) hit a groundball to the shortstop, who tossed it to the second baseman for the force on Kelly. But the throw to first was low, preventing the double play and allowing the first run of the game to score. Three walks and a hit batsman followed and the Roadrunners had three runs.
The next inning couldn’t have gone worse for the Grizzlies.
After A.J. Ryan led off with a single, Petrack hit a grounder to the third baseman, who threw to second for the force out, but the second baseman dropped the ball for an error. Radford then bunted up the third-base line for a single on a ball that would have been an out if properly handled.
The next two Nazareth hitters were hit by pitches, the shortstop committed an error, another hit batsman and two singles, a double and a dropped flyball in centerfield opened the flood gates as Nazareth scored 10 times to increase its lead to 13-0 after just three full innings.
Nazareth leadoff man Kane Lombardo was on base three times (2 BB, HBP) and scored twice as was Mike Barajas (single, 2 HBP, 1 run). Justin Gonzalez contributed a two-run single while Petrak also reached in all three of his plate appearances and stroked the game’s only extra-base hit, a two-out, two-run double down the right-field line in the third.