UTICA, NY– Hit them hard, hit them often.
That’s a mantra mainly used for football teams who want to get on a rival team early.
Wednesday night at Notre Dame, that was the mantra of the New Hartford baseball team and they followed that to a tee.
Evan Strassberger had three of the Spartans’ nine hits and two of their runs as New Hartford clinched a spot int the Section III baseball playoffs, pummeling the Jugglers, 8-2.
The Spartans jumped on Notre Dame in the very first inning, as Strassberger slammed a triple to left field, which scored Cooper Deck. The junior would score just one batter later on a wild pitch from Juggler starter Brian Wojnas. Wojnas would struggle mightily in the inning, as he would score Strassberger on a wild pitch on the next batter.
Notre Dame (7-8, 4-5 TVL West) would get to Spartan starter Danny Owen early as well, as Jayson Maxwell would score Kinsey Williams. Owen would actually find himself in a bases-loaded jam before a fielder’s choice would end the inning.
All in all, New Hartford head coach Kevin Green was proud of his sophomore starter, who pitched four and a third innings of two-hit ball, at the expense of four hit batsmen.
“Danny didn’t have his best stuff today,” Green said of Owen, “but he showed some good grit.”
Where Owen was gritty on the mound, Strassberger was just as gritty at the plate, as in the second inning, he would score again. This time, Andrew Circelli would bring the junior Spartan home with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
That was when New Hartford (3-4, 8-6) finally got to Wojnas and the Juggler defense, as two errors, one on third baseman Maxwell and one on first baseman Nick Hajdasz, would put Wojnas in a jam early in the fourth inning. A wild pitch would advance the runners, before Strassberger again came through in the clutch, hitting a bloop single to left-center field that would score Sean McGlynn.
The story of the day, however, was the Jugglers’ miscues on the field. In all, Notre Dame totaled six errors on the day, leaving head coach Jake DerCola scratching his head.
“You don’t win games with errors,” DerCola, whose Jugglers had already clinched a playoff spot before today’s game, said. “Those led to runs which led to us getting behind.”
Notre Dame would get even further behind in the fifth inning, as reliever Trey Manganaro would not only inherit a first-and-second jam from Wojnas, but also allow a Gus Pfisterer single to load the bases. Yet again, the errors would get to the Jugglers, as this time, shortstop Zach Brush would airmail a throw to first base that would score Circelli and Ryan Faro.
Notre Dame would get one back in their half of the sixth inning, however, and it would come from their own reliever. Manganaro would hit a ground ball that would score Matt Cross. That was as close as the Jugglers would get, however, as reliever Nic Ronan did not allow another runner to cross the plate for the rest of the game.
The Spartans would extend their lead in the top of the seventh, however, as Vinny Perrotta’s RBI single would allow senior Jacob Circelli to make his way home. From there, Nic Ronan would only allow one hit the rest of the way to shut the door on the Jugglers.
“Ronan’s been throwing the ball well, and that game the team some confidence,” Green said of his junior reliever. Of the team’s hitting, Green saw a major change from the last time the two teams met, a 5-3 win for the Spartans.
“I think we came in focused,” Green said. “I thought that we swung the bats well, and we put the ball in play.”
For DerCola, it was hard to bounce back after a late start at Murnane Field last night against Proctor.
“It was Murnane under the lights…not many kids get to play like that,” DerCola said of his Jugglers, who won that game. “Jet lag, I don’t know. We just came out flat.”
For both teams, they now turn their attention toward the Section III playoffs, which will come in just a few short weeks.
“We have three straight league games [coming up],” DerCola said. “If we win those three, we might get a home game. We have to turn it around, be more intense.”
“This is the most important time of the year,” Green said. “We have to make sure we are clicking as a team.”
In other words: hit them hard, hit them often.
New Hartford Spartans 8, Notre Dame Jugglers 2
New Hartford 2 0 1 1 3 0 1 8 9 2
Notre Dame 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 3 6
WP: Danny Owen (4.1 IP, 1 K, 2BB, 2 H, 1 ER).
LP: Brian Wojnas (4 IP, 1 K, 5 BB, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER).
2B- Notre Dame 1: Jayson Maxwell.
3B- New Hartford 1: Evan Strassberger.
Total LOB: Notre Dame 10, New Hartford 8.