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ND blanks Bombers in CL quarters

GREEN POND – The Colonial League playoffs got underway early Friday when the Palmerton baseball team traveled to Notre Dame-Green Pond for an 11 a.m. start because of the Notre Dame prom that evening.

Behind a strong outing from starter Ben Moyzan, the No. 3 seed Crusaders advanced with a 5-0 win over No. 6 Palmerton and will move on to face second-seeded Saucon Valley in Monday’s semifinals.

The Blue Bombers (13-8) managed just three hits off Moyzan, who pitched 6 2/3 innings and struck out 10 batters while walking just two. He didn’t allow a lead-off base runner in the game and with error-free defense behind him, Moyzan saw just five Palmerton baserunners in the game.

“Ben’s a good pitcher,” said Palmerton head coach Tyler Svetik. “We knew we were going to have to battle. That’s kind of been our M.O. all year. Defensively, we played pretty well. We pitched pretty well. We don’t give up a lot of runs, but it was tough sledding for us offensively today.”

Moyzan nearly had the complete game but Palmerton’s Jacob Grammes beat out a dribbler in the infield on Moyzan’s 100th pitch of the game. Collin Quintano came in to get the last out.

“Ben did a great job,” said Notre Dame head coach Mike Bedics. “That’s what we’ve come to expect from Ben. He gained experienced in big games last year. He hasn’t been throwing as well as he should have been all season long. This is definitely the best outing he’s had. He was able to throw his off-speed pitch for a strike and over-match them with the fastball.”

The Crusaders opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the third inning. Matt Benolken scored when Jackson Shollenberger was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Another run scored on a Logan Castellano sacrifice fly.

Palmerton pitcher Connor Beahm held the Crusaders (17-4) to just a pair of runs over four innings. He allowed three hits and struck out four.

Chase Reph took over in the fifth inning and dished out two quick walks before eventually getting out of a bases-loaded jam unscathed. But the Crusaders added some insurance runs in the sixth.

Benolken, who went 2-for-3 with two runs scored from the ninth spot in Notre Dame’s batting order, scored on a single from Ben Gagnon (2-for-2, RBI, run). Gagnon and Quintano both scored on a sacrifice fly that included a throwing error to make it 5-0.

For the Crusader seniors, who didn’t let that night’s prom distract them from the game, the win was just the beginning of a busy 24 hours.

“We’ve been talking to them for three weeks about remaining focused and not worrying about the prom,” said Bedics. “They weren’t allowed to mention the prom. Every minute they talked about the prom it moved practice up tomorrow morning. We have practice at 9 a.m. tomorrow.”

Palmerton’s league playoff run ends with the loss, but the Bombers will go on to compete in the Class 3A district tournament - where they could see the Crusdaers one more time.

“I just told them ‘I have five seniors and this could be the last ride for a lot of you,’” said Svetik. “‘It’s now or never. We need you to get it going if we want to make a run.’

“We’re going to give them a couple days off and regroup next week. They’re a hard-working group. I can’t fault that. Right now it’s not going well for us, but all we need is one game to get it going. Hopefully next game is the one.”

NOTHING BUT THE HITS ... Along with Gagnon and Benolkin, Quintano also had a pair of hits in the game. The Villanova recruit also scored twice for the Crusaders. Palmerton’s three hits came from Cole Serfass, Caleb Eitner and Grammes.

NEXT UP ... The Crusaders will look to advance to the league title game when they meet Saucon Valley Monday at Easton High School. The Crusaders and Panthers split this year, but Note Dame lost to Saucon Valley 13-1 on May 2 in a game Bedics said was his team’s worst performance of the season. The Crusaders seek their fifth league title. Their previous league championships came in 2007, 2014, 2017 and 2019.

Palmerton 000 000 0 - 0 3 1

Notre Dame 002 003 x - 5 6 0

Boehm, Reph (5) and Serfass; Moyzan, Quintano (7) and Shollenberger. W - Moyzan. L - Beahm.

Palmerton's Cole Serfass hopes to avoid a tag while sliding into second base. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Palmerton's Lukas Netznik gets ready to head toward third base during Friday's Colonial League playoff game. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS