With pitching, less is considered more. St. Charles Catholic’s Zachary Roussel put his pitching efficiency on display Wednesday in his team’s Class 3A second-round playoff game against Notre Dame.
The junior right-hander threw a 68-pitch, complete game, two-hitter to lead the Comets past the Pioneers 8-1 at Russell Gaudet Jr. Stadium in LaPlace.
Roussel (7-2) was masterful with his location and ability to mix speeds and pitch to contact. While he struck out only two, 47 of his 68 pitches were for strikes. He started 19 Pioneers batters with first-pitch strikes.
“Zack has done that all year,” St. Charles coach Wayne Stein said. “He has thrown the most innings for us and has a 1.20 ERA. He is no stranger to the big game, and that’s why we chose to go with him today.”
“With a lead, you just want to pound the zone, and that’s what I did,” Roussel said. “The guys behind me made all the plays. I don’t strike many people out. I just let my defense work for me.”
Sixth-seeded St. Charles (22-10) now travels to third-seeded Iowa for a Class 3A quarterfinal. The Comets have won eight straight games and 11 of their past 12. Notre Dame, the 11th seed, closed the season 17-13.
“We’re now putting a combination together,” Stein said. “Pitching and defense have been key late in the season, and we have swung the bat well all year. We try not to beat ourselves and put as much pressure as possible on our opponent.”
Roussel didn’t allow a hit after the third inning, when Notre Dame scored its lone run. Pioneers first baseman Jacob Vicknair grounded a first pitch lead-off double down the third base line. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild pitch.
St. Charles seized control with five runs after two outs in the home half of the third. With one out, Lloyd Nash was hit by a pitch and Dane Authement singled to left field. One out later, Austin Weber’s single to left scored Nash.
After Justin Ory was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Eian Mitchell’s infield single and a subsequent throwing error scored two runs. Then Brady Newman singled home Ory and the fifth of the inning scored on Pios pitcher Joe Faulk’s balk.
The Comets added two more runs in the fourth and a single run in the sixth. Roussel led off the fourth with a single to center field and his courtesy runner, Dustin Mire, raced home on a triple to left-center by Authement, who scored on a throwing error on the play.
“He (Faulk) had a good change-up, and we had to sit on that,” Authement said. “We just wanted to have a good approach at the plate, hit the ball hard on the ground and force them to make plays.”
Authement led off the sixth for SCC with a four-pitch walk, moved to second on Justin Loupe’s infield single and scored on a fielding error to complete the scoring.
“Roussel did an outstanding job on the mound,” Notre Dame Coach Steve Soper said.
“He gave them a chance to make plays, and they did. And their hitters did a great job of capitalizing off of our mistakes.”