Brother Martin had just defeated Live Oak 6-2 in the morning game of Saturday’s Class 5A quarterfinals series at UNO and second game Eagles starter Zach Hansen had a message for his teammates.
The junior left-hander stalked the Live Oak dugout and “he kept telling them ‘just get me one (run). Just get me one,” Live Oak coach Gregg Briggs said.
The Eagles doubled up on the challenge, defeating second-seeded Brother Martin 2-0 in the afternoon game at First NBC Ballpark.
The third game of the best-of-three series will be played at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at UNO. The winner will move on to play the winner of the Jesuit-Alexandria series Friday in Sulphur at the state tournament.
“Zach just picked us up, put the whole team on his shoulders and carried us to a win,” Briggs said of his 5-foot-6 pitcher’s one-hit, six-strikeout performance.
The day started early (10:30 a.m.) and roughly for the Eagles.
In the first game, 12 Crusaders reached base via 10 walks and two hit batamen. The Crusaders had only three hits in the opener.
In fact, the thunder in Brother Martin’s offense was quiet all day, registering only three singles and one extra-base hit from an unexpected source, Blair Frederick, in the two games.
“I just wanted to use my off-speed stuff and keep it down,” said Hansen, who said he used his curveball and change-up. “The scouting report said they might have trouble with off-speed pitches.”
Live Oak (29-10) scored once in the fifth and sixth. A two-out walk to Tyler Alexander started the fifth. Alexander broke for second on a delayed steal. No one covered second, and he went to third when the throw went into center field. He scored on Lenni Kunert’s single.
Gage Lockwood singled to begin the sixth and was sacrificed to second. A single by Brad Morris moved him to third and Hansen laid down a perfect squeeze bunt.
The Crusaders win in the first game was a case of “doing what you’ve got to do,” said Brother Martin Coach Mark Wisniewski.
Pitcher Corey Gaconi spaced out eight base hits, including three doubles, but allowed only single runs to score in the second and fourth innings. Gaconi (9-1) walked one.
After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the second, Brother Martin (31-5) answered in its half of the second.
Walks to Jonathan Parker, Andrew Boucvalt and Will Douglass loaded the bases with one out. Frederick, a .213-hitting sophomore, lined a pitch into the left-center field, clearing the bases for a 3-1 lead. Frederick had only five RBIs this season before that at-bat.
Frederick’s bases-clearing hit turned a 1-0 Live Oak lead into a 3-1 Brother Martin advantage, giving Martin “a little cushion,” Frederick said.
“When I was standing on second base, I was really happy,” Frederick said.
Frederick’s “hit was very big,” Gaconi said. “We were down (one run), and then we had a two-run lead. It gave us all the momentum.”
Greg Deroche led off the sixth with a single. Two hit batters, an error and two walks led to three more runs and turned a 3-2 game into a 6-2 advantage.