Notre Dame rallies past Catholic High

CROWLEY – For the first three innings Saturday, Notre Dame’s Pios struggled to get anything going offensively.

In fact, they had a runner picked off and left two runners stranded in scoring position in the early stages of their quarterfinal showdown with Catholic High of New Iberia and the atmosphere was tense.

But then came the wakeup call.

Catholic High, a team No. 2-seed Notre Dame had beaten handily earlier in the season, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI double by Thomas Robin and the Pios, as they had done nearly every time they had trailed in 2010, responded.

Notre Dame collected three hits and scored four runs in the bottom of the frame and that proved to be more than enough as the Pios went on to a 4-1 victory.

Notre Dame will now travel to Ruston Friday to take on the winner of yesterday’s Livonia-Loyola Prep game in a semifinal contest at Louisiana Tech’s J.C. Love Field.

“I was starting to get a little worried early on because we were getting some chances to get some two-out hits and we were starting to strand runners. Usually, that’s not a good sign,” said Notre Dame coach Timmy Robichaux, whose Pios improved to 29-5 with the victory. “They kind of slapped us in the face right there (in the fourth inning) and we kind of woke up, got off the ground and got going.”

Catholic’s fourth-inning run put the Pios in unfamiliar territory. They had not trailed in their first two playoff games. In fact, Notre Dame had not even given up a run in either of those contests.

If the Panthers thought the run was a harbinger of good things to come, they were wrong.

Reality began to set in when Ryan Leonards led off the bottom of the fourth inning with an infield single and scored two pitches later on sophomore Connor Goss’ double to the gap in left center field. On out later, Pete Petitjean double in the right center field gap to drive in Goss for a 2-1 lead.

But the Pios weren’t done.

Paiton McBride then reached base when he was hit by a pitch and Mitch Corzine followed with a hard grounder to shortstop that was misplayed. The error allowed Petitjean to score, making it 3-1. And McBride crossed the plate for final run of the inning and the game on a sacrifice fly by Ricky Stoma.

Before the Pios’ big fourth inning, Catholic hurler Shea Simmons had given up just two hits, only one of which left the infield.

“We didn’t want to try and spin and pull, especially on this guy (Simmons),” said Robichaux. “We knew he was going to throw a lot of offspead and slow stuff and try to frustrate us. We just kept telling our guys to hang in there because we felt we would get to him eventually.”

Leonards earned the victory for the Pios, giving up just one run on four hits and three walks. He struck out four in six innings.

“I didn’t throw as well as I thought I could have today,” said Leonards, who improved to 10-1 with the victory. “But I knew I wasn’t going to blow it by them because they are real good. I kind of settled in after we scored though. I didn’t have my best stuff today, but my defense picked me up and we hit the ball when we needed to.”

Austin Robichaux, who pitched the first two playoff games for the Pios, was credited with the save. Robichaux took over for Leonards in the seventh inning following a leadoff walk. He coaxed Miles St. Upery to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and then struck out leadoff man Nate Gondron to end the contest.

“I knew I needed to go deep (into the game) because Austin was only on a few days rest,” said Leonards. “I wanted to finish the game, but coach Robichaux knew Austin was going to close it out because he’s just dominant.”

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