Brother Martin and St. Paul’s were locked in a pitchers’ duel for most of Tuesday’s night’s playoff game, but that changed in the sixth inning.
The Crusaders (18-7) erupted for 10 runs in the sixth to run away with a 10-0 victory over the No. 25-seeded Wolves in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium on Tuesday night.
“It was a struggle for us on offense for much of the night, and we were just trying to make something happen,” Brother Martin coach Mark Wisniewski said. “But the two big bunts really gave us life, and once we started getting a few hits, we took off from there.”
Eighth-seeded Brother Martin handled St. Paul’s (16-11) in relatively easy fashion the first two times the teams met this season, winning by a combined margin of 20-2.
But Wisniewski said his team avoided St. Paul’s top pitcher Blake LoCiecero in those two matchups, and it was no surprise that he held the Crusaders down as long as he did Tuesday.
Brother Martin now moves on to play No. 24 St. Amant, which upset No. 9 Sam Houston on Tuesday.
“Coming in, we knew LoCicero was their best pitcher, and he would give us a much tougher time then the first two games,” Wisniewski said. “He’s a quality pitcher, but fortunately for us we were able to make some good things happen in the sixth.”
LoCicero was dominant against the Crusaders for much of the night, but after not allowing a hit since the first inning, Brother Martin followed a Jarrod Tassin walk with back-to-back bunt singles by Joel Bergeron and Brady Faust to load the bases.
Frederick broke the scoreless tie with an RBI single to right field, and the Crusaders added two more runs after Kevin Stretzinger was hit by a pitch and Michael Kirsch drew a walk with the bases loaded, giving Brother Martin a 3-0 lead.
Mason Bonnaffons broke the game open with a three-run triple that emptied the bases, and he scored after a St. Paul’s error to give Brother Martin a 7-0 lead going into the seventh inning.
Frederick came back up later in the inning and finished things off with a three-run double that ended the game in the sixth and gave Brother Martin the win.
“I had faith in my teammates that we would get the runs when we needed it,” said Frederick, an LSU signee. “We just never said die. After we went up seven, we could have just got the last out and went back on defense, but we kept on fighting and got that 10th run.”
In five innings, LoCicero allowed three runs on four hits before he was pulled early in the sixth.
St. Paul’s coach Mick Nunez said his senior pitcher threw a “phenomenal” game, but things just snowballed on his team in the sixth.
“Blake threw really well, but they got those two bunts and strung some big hits together,” Nunez said.
“That’s just the way things kind of went for us this season.”