PDT Sports Writer
Notre Dame found out Thursday that success comes from the top.
Leadoff hitter Jack Kayser was 4-for-4 with five stolen bases, two runs scored and a run batted in as the host Titans claimed a key 5-3 nonconference win over Coal Grove, just days before the Division IV draw. Notre Dame coach Drew Mader believes he has a leader starting the batting order.
“Jack has been a pivotal position player where we’ve had him in the nine-hole slot to start the year off,” Mader said. “His bat has just come alive, he’s seeing the ball a lot better but his speed is a key thing that we use with him. He’s getting on base, he’s seeing the pitches well but when he gets on base, we’re looking to him to get that extra base and take it out of double play position.”
After each single recorded by Kayser, he stole second on the next pitch. Mader was stunned that Hornets starter Jacob Pierce didn’t pay more attention to Kayser.
“When you go in there, we tell them not to get caught leaning,” Mader said. “But when a pitcher isn’t throwing the ball over, we’re going to be aggressive on the base paths.”
Kayser led off the scoring in the first inning when Will Haney’s RBI groundout resulted in a 1-0 lead. Coal Grove evened it up in the top of the third with an RBI double from Mason Nance to score Alex Bare.
The Titans earned the run back in the bottom half the exact same way they scored in the first. This time, they also added two more runs for a 4-1 lead after batting around.
“The three runs (were) a great thing,” Mader said. “We were struggling to find that one inning.
“In the first couple, we leave a couple of guys on base and we score one. We know going in 1-0, they’re a great ball club and they’re going to score runs.”
The Hornets knocked Notre Dame starter Jacob Milani out of the game after three-plus innings of work and charged two more runs to the senior before Haney came in relief to close out not only the inning but the game.
Kayser ended the scoring in the sixth with a one-out single to score Brice Hannah as an insurance tally. Haney fanned four of the 15 batters he faced for the win.
“Will’s great offspeed pitch kept them guessing,” Mader said.
The Titans host Eastern in their SOC I finale before playing a crucial doubleheader Saturday at possible Division IV tournament foe Whiteoak.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.
Coal Grove 001 200 0 — 3 3 2
Notre Dame 103 001 x — 5 8 5
Coal Grove — Bare 0-3 (BB, R), Nance 1-4 (2B, SB, R), Rigsby 1-4, Ja. Pierce 0-4 (R), Pennington 0-3 (BB, R), Markins 1-3, Carey 0-1 (2 BB).
Notre Dame — Kayser 4-4 (5 SB, RBI, 2 R), Milani 0-2 (BB, SAC), Haney 0-4 (2 RBI), Mader 1-2 (BB, R), Cooper 1-3 (RBI), Ogg 0-2 (BB), Hannah 2-3 (R), Baker 0-2 (SAC).
W — Haney (4-1)
L — Ja. Pierce (5-3)
Records — Coal Grove 6-10; Notre Dame 14-6.