Sometimes, baseball players just have to go back to the beginning.
Like tee ball.
Notre Dame High School seemed to lose its hitting touch late in the regular season, losing its last two games by a cumulative score of 22-0. The Nikes managed just two hits in the 10-0 loss to Davis County in the regular season finale.
"In a four-day period in practice, Coach decided we should hit off a tee," Nike junior second baseman Drew Chiprez said. "We wanted to make sure our swings are level and it showed tonight."
Saturday night in the Class 1A, District 8 first-round tournament game at Notre Dame's Winegard Field, the Nikes erupted for 12 hits and blanked Winfield-Mount Union, 15-0, in four innings.
Notre Dame (16-6) will play Pekin (14-8) in a 7 p.m. semifinal at Winegard Field on Tuesday.
Chiprez went 4-for-4 Saturday night, a home run short of hitting for the cycle. He had two infield singles, a double and a triple.
There were home runs in the Nikes' hitting spree. Nick Skerik legged out a two-run, inside-the-park homer to right in the second inning. Two batters later, after Chiprez logged his second infield single, Trenton Blythe launched the baseball over the left-center fence for a two-run homer.
And there were other triples. Winning pitcher Mitchell Brent hit a two-run triple to right field in the first inning and another triple in the second.
Blythe made it a walk-off in the fourth inning. Skerik led off and coaxed a base on balls from Jacob Ford. Chiprez hit his triple to score Skerik. Blythe singled and Skerik scored to provide the 15-run margin that ended the game via the mercy rule.
The Nikes scored twice in the first inning, six in the second and five in the third.
Brent finished 2-for-2, Skerik and Blythe were both 2-for-3 and Jeron Conner and Lucas Anderon each added a single. Skerik and Blythe each had three RBis. Chiprez, Brent and Anderson had two RBIs each.
Three Nike pitchers combined for a one-hit shutout. Starter and winner Brent (6-3) gave up the hit to the first batter of the game. Dawson Bergthold bunted and beat the throw to first for a single. Brent went two innings and also surrended a walk. He struck out the side in the second inning. Ryle Koenig walked two in the third inning, but a double play got him out of trouble. Skerik struck out the side in the fourth.
"For Skerik, it was the first he pitched in 2 1/2 weeks," Notre Dame coach Chris Chiprez said. "We wanted to see him live instead of in practice." As for using three pitchers in four innings, "yeah, to save arms," the coach said. "Keep them in their routine."
At the plate, "we tried to hone in on the pitch tonight," Coach Chiprez said. "We looked like the team of old."
The Nikes now focus on Pekin, a team they beat 5-0 on June 5 at Winegard Field. Brent and Koenig combined for a one-hitter in that game.
"They're a good team," coach Chiprez said. "They're well-coached. It'll be significantly tougher than tonight."
"We expect to see good competition," Drew Chiprez said. "It's do or die. We've got to play to the best of our ability."
Bergthold (0-5) was the losing pitcher. Winfield-Mount Union ended its season at 1-23.