Livonia shocks Notre Dame in Class AAA quarterfinals

LIVONIA – For the last month, Notre Dame has struggled through an offensive drought.

Despite struggling for hits and runs, the top-ranked Pios still managed to get by.

That is until Monday.

Livonia took advantage of Notre Dame’s misfortunes at the plate and the No. 9 seeded Wildcats slipped away with an improbable 3-2, eight-inning quarterfinal victory over the visiting Pios.

“We just couldn’t do enough offensively today,” said ND coach Timmy Robichaux, whose team defeated Livonia in the semifinals last year en route to the school’s second state title.

“We knew it was going to be this type of game, we knew it was going to be back and forth. We just needed to do a better job offensively. We got a run every now and then, but it wasn’t going to be enough to beat these guys.”

Unlike last year’s game, where Livonia led four times before the Pios rallied for a 9-8 victory, the Wildcats found themselves playing catch up the entire way.

The Pios led twice but each time the Wildcats rallied to tie the game.

Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Paiton McBride singled to center and scored two batters later when Mitch Corzine doubled to left center field.

Livonia answered an inning later when Brandon Armond recorded an infield single, moved to second on a wild pitch and stole third. He tied the game at 1-1 on a sacrifice fly by starting pitcher Mason Klotz.

Notre Dame regained the lead in the top of the sixth inning when Luke Bourgeois walked and scored on Connor Goss’ single to left.

The Pios then had an opportunity to extend the advantage in the sixth when Austin Robichaux’s single to right field gave the Pios runners at first and third base with one out.

However, Klotz caught courtesy runner Luke Broussard straying too far off first base and picked him off for the second out of the inning. Pete Petitjean then grounded out to third base to end the threat.

“We had a chance to get a two-out hit along the way,” said Robichaux. “That one inning right there where we had pulled up a run, that was a big inning. I think if we could have got out of that inning with another run, I think we could have closed it out in the seventh.

“The pickoff took an out from us. That was huge because it took everything away from us that we could do. We could have bunted right there with first and third to get the run in. Anytime you have base running mistakes, it almost always takes off runs for you.”

Livonia seized the momentum in the bottom of the sixth and tied the game at 2-2 when Ty Gurr reached base on a fielder’s choice and scored on a single to center from Klotz.

The Pios went down in order in the seventh but they seemed to have something going in the eighth when Corzine logged a two-out single to left. However, Goss flew out to right field to end the frame.

Livonia’s Patrick Juge led off the bottom of the eighth with a single to left before Ty Gurr was called out for stepping on the plate on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Brandon Armond then grounded to the mound and ND starter Austin Robichaux fired to second base to get Juge for the second out.

Mason Torres was then hit by a pitch before he and Armond both moved up on a double steal.

Klotz put the finishing touches on the game with a single over the head of Corzine at second base to plate the winning run.

Klotz drove in all three of the Wildcats’ runs on the day and also was a force on the mound, scattering five hits through seven innings.

“He (Klotz) threw kind of like a slurve and I just don’t think we made adjustments on it,” said Robichaux. “He was keeping the ball down. We just didn’t make adjustments.”

Mason Torres took the mound for the Wildcats in the eighth inning and earned the victory. He gave up just one hit.

Austin Robichaux (10-1) suffered the hard-luck loss, allowing three runs on five hits and four walks. It was his only loss of the season.

“Austin did a good job today,” said coach Robichaux. “It’s just a credit to them (Livonia). They’re going to battle. We had to take Ryan (Leonards) out last year and bring Aut (Austin) in and they fought him for 2 1/2 innings and that’s what they did today.

“We just didn’t do enough offensively. I don’t think we put enough pressure on them offensively. We can’t ask Austin this deep in the playoffs to just get one run and go pitch seven innings. The teams are going to fight you too much from the quarterfinal round on. You know, nobody wants to go home.”

Robichaux and Corzine each had two hits for the Pios while Goss and McBride each had one.

Klotz and Juge paced the Wildcats with two hits each.

The Pios finished the season with a remarkable 32-3 record.

“It was a great run,” said Robichaux of the season. “It is a disappointment in the sense that this wasn’t our goal, the quarters. Our goal was to get into the tournament and I feel that we were good enough for sure to be there.

“And I feel for the seniors. I just don’t want this one game to overshadow everything that they have done for our program. That senior group has been starting since they were sophomores and they are one of the big reasons we have been successful and been able to get to the state tournament and win the state championship.”

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