CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — On any given day, Notre Dame baseball coach John Calvert believes his team has up to five pitchers capable of leading the Irish to a victory.
In Tuesday’s contest against Class AA No. 6 East Fairmont, it was junior Sam Romano who stole the show, helping lead the Class A No. 5 Irish to a 4-1 victory at Frank Loria Memorial Field.
Romano held the Bees (13-7) without a hit or a run until the seventh inning and struck out five over a complete game to lift the Irish to a fifth consecutive win.
“I have five guys on this team that I can call aces,” Calvert said. “At any time we can send out one of those guys on the bump and they can win a ball game for us by themselves.
“Sam can go anywhere from one to five and that just depends on his stuff. Against Charleston Catholic earlier this season and East Fairmont today, two very good teams and he held them both to one run or less and beat both. That’s pretty good.”
Romano also helped his cause with a first-inning single that allowed Garrett Collins to score the first run. Collins had led off with a triple to help Notre Dame (16-6) produce the early offense.
Romano struck out the side in the second and retired East Fairmont in order in the third. He worked around a one-out walk in the fourth and sat the Bees down in order again in the fifth to help the Irish maintain their one-run lead.
Notre Dame got a pair of critical insurance runs in the fifth against Bees’ relief pitcher Avery Baker.
No. 9 hitter Justin Frazier led off with a single and was sacrificed to second on Collins’ bunt. Elias Gordon then came through with a single to left that scored Frazier.
Later in the fifth, Brent Robinson’s bloop single to right allowed Romano to score for a 3-0 Irish advantage.
In the bottom of the sixth, Ethan Hager was hit by a pitch and moved up to third on Hunter Emerson’s single. Hager eventually scored the Irish’s fourth and final run of the game on a wild pitch.
“It’s a very good win. We set the schedule to play some of these better teams at this time of the year,” Calvert said. “We have goals we set each game offensively, defensively and pitching and we hit all those goals today.”
Chance Rundle’s infield single in the seventh broke up Romano’s no-hitter, and Rundle scored the Bees’ only run on Ethan Harvey’s single to right.
Although East Fairmont brought the tying run to the plate twice in the seventh, Romano never wavered. Instead he induced a fielder’s choice groundout off the bat of Cole Peschl, before Peyton Sarsfield bounced one back to the mound to end the game.
“Hats off to Romano. He threw a nice game and kept us off balance,” East Fairmont coach Joe Price said. “I thought we helped him at times swinging at breaking pitches down and our guys know that. They’ll rebound. Tomorrow’s a new day. Give all the credit to Notre Dame. They came ready to play today.”
Romano issued four walks and allowed two hits.
The Irish finished with eight hits, getting one hit apiece from each of the first five hitters in their lineup. Emerson’s two hits were a game high.
East Fairmont freshman Clay Hershberger was the first of three pitchers utilized by the Bees and took the loss after allowing one run in three innings.
“Our pitchers did an excellent job,” Price said. “We have to amp it up defensively and get our bats going if we expect to do anything the next couple weeks.”