Duda’s 2-hitter keeps Lourdes alive in 1AA
By Donny Henn
Jake Duda had his cake and that was the important thing. He could do without eating it, too.
Duda narrowly missed a no-hitter but still had sweet success in pitching Rochester Lourdes to a 7-1 win over La Crescent in the Section One, Class AA Final Four baseball tournament Monday at Hudson Field in north Rochester.
Duda, an imposingly large senior right-hander, pitched his best game of the season to keep Lourdes’ state tournament hopes alive and knock top seeded La Crescent from the double-elimination tournament.
Lourdes (17-8) meets Winona Cotter (19-7) today at 5 p.m. in a losers bracket elimination game. The winner plays again at 7:30 in the championship round against Triton (18-8).
Lourdes is aiming to get to state for the fifth time since 1994, and the first time since 2001. The Eagles were state champs in 1996 and 2001.
"We think we can (get back to state)," Duda said. "We have always believed that we can beat anybody when we’re all playing good."
Duda took a shutout and a no-hitter into the seventh inning, when he finally allowed two hits and an earned run to a La Crescent team with a .350 team batting average.
"I have never thrown a no-hitter before, that’s as close as I’ve come," Duda said. "But I’m just happy to get a win; that was probably my first good outing of the year."
Lourdes coach Doug Hudson said his big right-hander was being a bit modest. Duda evened his record at 2-2 and lowered his ERA into the 2.00 range.
"The big guy was sharp today," Hudson said. "This was probably his best game, but he has faced tough teams all year and has done pretty well."
Duda started Monday with the comfort of a 4-0 lead which Lourdes built in the first inning on Saturday. The Eagles had a 4-0 lead after 1 1/2 innings when the game was postponed by heavy rain.
Lourdes bunched three hits with two hit batters in the first inning against La Crescent starting pitcher Tim Verthein, and it gave the Eagles all the runs Duda would need. Tom Gores had a two-run single and Rob Poterucha a two-run double in the rally.
Lourdes scored two insurance runs in the fifth inning, one on a throwing error and the other on a wild pitch. The Eagles added a final run in the seventh on Poterucha’s double to the 350 sign in left-center, scoring Gores.
La Crescent had a tough tournament, managing just four hits and commiting six errors in two defeats. The Lancers were after their fourth section title since 1999.
"You have to give credit to the great pitchers we faced; it looked like a man (Duda) against boys today," said La Crescent coach Rick Boyer.
"We did not play well in the sectional playoffs and that’s tough for a team hitting about .350. But here we only hit about .050, and that just shows the caliber of the teams that are here."
Duda was in command from the start, retiring the Lancers in order in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings. He allowed only three base runners in the first six innings on a pair of walks and a hit batter.
"My fastball was working and they were chasing my curve balls, so that helped," Duda explained.
Duda hasn’t decided where he will attend college yet, but he’s "75 percent" settled on St. Cloud State University. Whereever he goes he would like to play college baseball.
"When Jake is throwing well he’s as tough as there is in high school ball," Hudson said.
"His velocity is pretty good, and he’s got great control of his speed and all of his pitches. I think he can play in college because he’s also a good hitter."
LOURDES 7, LA CRESCENT 1
Lourdes 400 020 1 — 7 10 0
La Crescent 000 000 1 — 1 2 4
Jake Duda and Rob Poterucha; Tim Verthein, Brandon Verthein (6) and Andrew Helland.
2B — LOU, Rob Poterucha.