HAMDEN — The last time Notre Dame and Hamden met, it was clear to see that Green Knights’ coach Don Martone was less than pleased with the play of his team. What a difference three weeks make.
Behind an offensive barrage and a stellar relief appearance by James Salemme, Notre Dame defeated Hamden 11-5 in a Southern Connecticut Conference Housatonic Division contest at Hamden High Friday afternoon.
“It’s been a tough road,” Martone said. “We have gotten beat every way humanly possible. The kids have kept after it. That’s a great Hamden team over there. Our guys really wanted this game today.”
Max Mariano, Eddie Zanor, and John Martinello led a 16-hit attack with three hits apiece, with Zanor and Martinello each driving in three runs.
“We have been struggling to put up some runs all year,” Zanor said. “Our bats woke up. We are just trying to put the ball in play. We have been picking it up every day. The last time we played them we were no-hit until the seventh. We got three runs in the first inning today and I think that set the tone.”
Salemme entered in the fifth inning, pitching three scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three
“He stayed poised,” Martone said. “Poised, processed, outcome. He stayed the course.”
Notre Dame, which won its third straight and improved to 9-9, set the tone early, taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning, and increasing the margin to 6-2 in the third.
John Milone opened the game with a leadoff walk, and Mike Torniero followed with a double, which scored Milone after the ball got loose. Zanor doubled with two outs to score Torniero, and Martinello plated Zanor with a double of his own to left.
The Green Dragons (12-5), who suffered their first division loss, answered in their half of the inning, scoring twice to get within a run.
Tyler Osborne led off with a single off Notre Dame starting pitcher Brendan Kirck, Jake Pisano followed with another single and Mike Ferrett walked with Osborne scoring on a wild pitch on ball four. A sacrifice fly by Henry Bielen scored Pisano with the second run of the inning.
Notre Dame increased its lead to 6-2 in the third with three more runs. Mariano singled with one out, stole second, went to third on a throwing error, and scored on Zanor’s single to right.
Liam Geib drove in pinch-runner Mike Sansone with a single to left, ending the day of Hamden starting pitcher Jake Michaud. Brett Hart and Michael Robertson greeted freshman reliever Maxwell Gross with singles to score Geib for a 6-2 advantage.
Hamden, which saw its four-game winning streak snapped, also answered after Notre Dame scored in the third, scoring three runs of its own to get within 6-5.
Osborne again was at the center of the rally, drawing a leadoff walk and scoring when Ferrett singled and there was an error on the play. Eduardo Pena delivered a two-run single and Hamden was within 6-5.
“They came out with a lot of energy,” Hamden coach Chris Borelli said of Notre Dame. “We just made a lot of mental mistakes. It manifests into physical mistakes. We gave them a ton of opportunities and they capitalized on every single one. We swung the bats to get back in the game, but our pitchers have to step up there and hold them. We didn’t get that today. Those innings where we needed a big hit, we didn’t get them.”
The offensive contest continued in the fourth inning as the Green Knights tacked on against Gross. Martinello had the big hit in the inning as his single scored Torniero for a 7-5 lead, but Gross escaped further damage with a strikeout to end the frame.
Notre Dame put distance between the Green Dragons with three more runs in the sixth inning.
Mariano and Zanor again got things going with singles, before each scored when Martinello singled to left and the ball was misplayed for an error. Geib’s double to left scored Martinello for a 10-5 advantage.
Ferrett led Hamden with two hits and a run batted in.