Nothing seems to bother Dowling's senior ace, Tyler Badamo. Not the steady rain that fell throughout Thursday's first- round game of the East Coast Conference playoffs. Not the clay that caked under his shoes as the mound turned into a quagmire, and certainly not the bats of the University of Bridgeport.
Badamo threw seven innings as host Dowling pounded the Purple Knights, 14-0. He scattered six hits and lowered his conference-leading ERA to 0.83. His nine strikeouts gave him 120, also first in the ECC.
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Top-seeded Dowling (32-13), looking for its third conference title in four years, will meet No. 3 Molloy (19-22) in the final of the winners' bracket Friday at noon at the Dowling Athletic Complex in Shirley. No. 2 St. Thomas Aquinas will play fourth-seeded Bridgeport at 9 a.m. in the losers' bracket of the double-elimination tournament.
"The conditions weren't very good, actually, they were annoying,'' Badamo said with a laugh. "But it didn't bother me because those are things you have to get through to win. And we're playing very well now, so I wanted to give a good effort under difficult conditions.''
Badamo cruised through the first five innings, scattering five hits and striking out seven. He didn't allow a runner to reach third base as the Golden Lions built a 4-0 lead.
Leadoff man Adam Schuster gave Badamo all the support he would need in the first inning. Schuster lined the first of his four hits and scored on a double by Jon Cruz. Andrew Abreu singled and came around on JC Brandmeier's double.
"It's all about repetition and working with great coaches,'' said Schuster, who stole two bases and scored three runs. "I'm seeing the ball very well.''
So were the rest of the Golden Lions, who rapped 18 hits and scored 10 runs, a postseason school record, in the sixth. Schuster walked with the bases loaded and scored in the inning.
"We moved Schuster from the nine hole to the leadoff spot because he's been on fire,'' coach Tom Caputo said. "And he's been an absolute catalyst.''
Bridgeport had a shot to come back before Dowling blew the game open. The Purple Knights loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth. Dylan Steigerwald singled up the middle, Jessie Solar was hit by a pitch and Casey McCone walked. Badamo ended the threat when he struck out Alec Jannotta on a 1-and-2 slider in the dirt.
But this day, like so many others this spring, belonged to Badamo. The 6-2, 220-pound righthander, who drew national attention for a streak of 72 innings without allowing an earned run, was masterful again, in less than ideal conditions.