Two home-field pitchers, two dominant performances, a pair of very similar results for Batavia and Notre Dame in Section V playoff games at Dwyer Stadium on Friday.
Behind the 15-K, two-hit performance of Zach Hale, the Blue Devils shutdown Newark 1-0.
In the night cap, Alec Covel was just as masterful for the Fighting Irish. In the process of striking out 10, Covel gave up only one hit, and that wasn't until the top of the 6th inning, leading Notre Dame to a 2-0 victory over Alfred-Almond.
Batavia Head Coach Rick Saunders said Hale pitched the game of the year.
"What a performance," Saunders said. "The whole game is Hale. He got the base hit, and then I pinch run for him, and he's the winning run."
Mike Rapone, head coach of Notre Dame, was just as impressed with the performance of Covel, who started only three games this season prior to Friday because of an injury. Both Rapone and Covel said he came into the game, fresh, strong and eager to pitch.
"He threw only 78 pitches," Rapone said. "He was pounding the strike zone. His curve ball was sharp. He's a great player. He really is."
Both Newark and Alfred are lower seed games, but in sectionals top-ranked teams are going find themselves going against the best pitcher of their opponents.
"Their kid pitch great, too," Rapone said. "That's the thing with sectionals. They've got a .500 record, but they probably won every game that he pitched and maybe they lost all the ones he didn't, so you never know what you're going to run into when you get into sectional tournament. I mean, for a nine seed, heck, that kid threw the ball well."
Saunders was equally impressed with Newark's starter.
"i don't know anything about their pitcher, but I'll tell you, he is quality," Saunders said. "He threw a real nice fastball and a sweet curve ball."
Batavia was limited to four hits, but still managed to get a couple of runners to third. It made Saunders a little nervous when his offense couldn't close the deal.
"We had our chances," Saunders said. "Those games bother me more than anything, when we see guys on third base many times, one out, and you don't score, you go 'oh-oh, something bad can happen.' Nothing bad happened because Hale was in control of the game."
Being out on the mound in a big 1-0 game is exactly where he wanted to be, Hale said.
"I usually throw better later, but especially after we got that run," Hale said. "It really gave me a boost. I'm like, hey, better close it out.
"The rush is crazy," he added. "When you're out there every batter means something. It's not like it's a 10-0 game."
Covel said he just likes to be in that commanding situation, taking control of the game.
"All of my pitches working and with the strong defense behind me, it just gives me all the confidence in the world," Covel said.
Slide show from Batavia game. To order prints, click here.
Slide show for Notre Dame game below. Click here to purchase prints.