After defeating the Notre Dame Knights at home on Tuesday afternoon courtesy of an exhilarating seventh inning rally, the Bishop Alemany Warriors sought to repeat the result in their rematch at Notre Dame on Friday night, but had no interest in replicating how they got there. While Tuesday’s barnburner saw Bishop Alemany lose a three-run lead late in the game and take seven innings to take it back, the Warriors’ goal this time around was to capture the lead early and never look back‚Ä®.

“You just gotta flush it, what happened on Tuesday,” said junior first baseman/relief pitcher Brandon Lewis of the team’s mindset heading into round two with Notre Dame. “You just gotta go out there and do your job.” On Friday night, the Alemany players didn’t just do their jobs — they played like employees of the month. Fueled by a masterful outing from senior ace Brandon Ponticelli, relentless hitting and spectacular defense, the Warriors dominated the Knights by a score of 6-1.

nPonty’s Gem Backed By Web Gems

The main reason Notre Dame wasn’t able to replicate their comeback efforts from Tuesday’s contest was simple: Alemany starter Brandon Ponticelli wouldn’t allow it. In fact, it wasn’t until the seventh inning that Ponticelli even allowed a Notre Dame runner to get into scoring position, let alone cross home plate. The senior right-hander brought his very best stuff to the ballpark Friday night, landing his fastball and off-speed pitches to the tune of six strikeouts, five hits and only one earned run over the course of 6 1/3 innings.‚Ä®

“[The key] was getting ahead [in the count], trying to stay ahead and throwing my off-speed [pitches] for strikes,” said Ponticelli. “I knew going in that I just had to throw strikes and get ahead, because if I get behind, then they’re going to be sitting for my pitches, and they can make me pay. I just had to get ahead and stay ahead.” Ponticelli’s teammates have come to expect him to stay ahead like he did Friday night, but it still awes them nonetheless. “We have so much confidence in Brandon when he’s on the hill,” said senior left fielder AJ McKenna. “He’s just one of those guys that’s dominant every night.” “Ponty [the Alemany players’ nickname for Ponticelli] was pitching his heart out,” added senior right fielder Cristian Montes. “When he’s dealing like that, we know we’re going to get the win. I have all my faith in Brandon.”

‚Ä®The Alemany victory was far from being a one-man show. The Warriors’ superb defensive effort, highlighted by three converted double plays and a pickoff at first base, ensured that the few runners Ponticelli did allow to reach base didn’t make it very far. “My defense was great,” recalled Ponticelli. “Every time I got a runner on first, they were able to trim it up. I felt confident [that] if I threw strikes, my defense was going to play behind me.”

nEarly and Often

Alemany picked up Friday’s game on the heels of Tuesday’s four-hit seventh inning rally, loading the bases in the first inning. The rally appeared to be over when junior third baseman Will Picketts hit a seemingly harmless fly ball to center field. However, Notre Dame senior center fielder Jordan Myrow dropped the pop fly, which allowed two Alemany runners to score.

Two innings later, Montes smacked a triple into right field to score Lewis. Sidelined the past few games with a back injury, Montes, who recorded a team-high three hits, played like a kid who couldn’t wait to get back on the field. And his impactful return to the lineup showed why his teammates couldn’t wait to have him back either.‚Ä®

“The comeback of Cristian Montes in the outfield is huge for our lineup,” said McKenna. “He provides that big spark that we need. The middle of our order is pretty dangerous when you add him in there.” Alemany’s two through seven hitters went a combined 8-18 with three RBI, which included a 370-foot leadoff solo home run to deep center field by McKenna in the fifth inning, and a bases loaded walk by Lewis in the sixth.‚Ä®

Alemany’s sixth and final run came courtesy of senior utility man Christopher Ligot’s long pinch hit single in the seventh. “We were committed to hitting the ball where it’s pitched,” explained Alemany manager Randy Thompson. “Good things happen when you do that. Our guys took good approaches. When you do that time in, time out, you wear the pitcher down. And we used the whole field.”‚Ä®

Indeed, the Warriors’ offense sprayed the ball all over the outfield, and fired on all cylinders. The confidence boost the Alemany offense received from Ponticelli’s powerful performance was a two way street. “It (the run support) gave me great confidence,” said Ponticelli. “I knew we were good in that first inning when we were taking quality at-bats ... the run support was just unbelievable.”

nNo-Quit Knights

Completely baffled by Ponticelli’s pitching through six innings, Notre Dame finally chinked the Alemany ace’s armor in the seventh inning, when a single by sophomore shortstop Hunter Green and walks by senior third baseman Jake Hirabayashi and junior left fielder Colin Brophy loaded the bases for Notre Dame and ended Ponticelli’s night. Senior designated hitter Logan Schwartz singled off of reliever Lewis to bring in the Knights’ first run and inject a shot of life into the home crowd.

“[I said to the guys] ‘just try to relax, and focus on, every time the ball’s hit, getting an out,’” said Thompson. “Because at that point, it’s a game of outs. We walked two guys to load the bases, and there’s no defense for walks. But my theme to them was ‘don’t be too quick, and make sure that every time the ball is hit, we get an out.” Alemany did just that, as Lewis forced a fly ball out and a ground out from the next two batters to shut down the Notre Dame rally and give Alemany the commanding 6-1 victory.