Given an up close look to the pitching display Cole Kmet was putting on for St. Viator on Monday, Benet senior DH P.J. Wagener may have said it best.
“He was just on (Monday),” Wagener said of Kmet. “He was locating his off-speed. I have to tip my cap to him. He wasn’t making mistakes.”
Thanks to Kmet – both on the mound and at the plate – Benet’s first trip back to the state tournament in nearly 30 years will have to wait another year.
The Notre Dame-bound Kmet struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings as St. Viator eliminated Benet with 13-4 victory in the Class 3A North Central College Super-Sectional.
Kmet’s two-run triple in the third – aided by a strong wind – began an eight-run uprising for the Lions (23-15) as 13 hitters came to hit.
A solo homer from Kmet in the seventh – his 12th of the season – helped put an exclamation point on shutting down Benet’s season.Benet (25-12) will settle for the program’s first sectional title in 28 years and the most victories in Scott Lawler’s six years.
With eyes on trying to get the Redwings back to the state tournament for the first time since 1989, Steve Arrowsmith started out hot on the mound.
The senior right-hander retired the first six and eight of the first nine Lions he faced before the wind took the ball Kmet hit.
All told, 13 Lions came to hit in the eight-run third, which saw three different Redwings pitch.
In 2 2/3 innings, Arrowsmith was charged with four runs on three hits.
“I don’t know. I just came into the game pretty loose,” he said of his fast start.
Over the course of 5 1/3 innings and 77 pitches, Kmet was certainly loose in redeeming himself for his April 15 effort against Benet.
In an 11-1 victory, the Redwings tagged him for seven runs on six hits.
Kmet’s repertoire wasn’t anything out of the ordinary or unexpected for Benet junior catcher Brandon Gorz.
“We knew what we were getting into with his fastball and everything,” Gorz said of Kmet, who’s planning on playing both football and baseball at Notre Dame. “So we just tried to jump on him early, but he’s a really good pitcher. He has that slider and changeup, so it was pretty tough to get a hold of one.”
Along with Tyler Bautista, Gorz was one of two Redwings to get two hits.
Extending the game another inning with a three-run sixth, Benet got RBI singles from C.J. Birck and Gorz in the inning.
A RBI single from Bautista would come in the seventh.
The best season in terms of wins and postseason advancement since he succeeded Jeff Bonebrake prior to 2012 has Lawler excited for the future.
“These guys keep knocking on the door for teams in the future and hopefully it happens soon,” Lawler said. “And it’d be because these guys got us this far.”