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Irish get 1st home victory

Chris Federico | Thursday, March 25, 2004

The Irish bats woke up a little bit Wednesday night, but Detroit gave Notre Dame a lot of help too.

The Titans walked 12 Irish batters, hit three others and committed four errors as No. 6 Notre Dame (14-3) knocked off Detroit (1-10) 16-6 at Frank Eck Stadium.

For the Irish, who had scored just 10 runs over their last three games, the free passes issued by the Titan pitchers stimulated the Notre Dame offense to score 16 runs, the most since a 19-6 win over Winthrop Feb. 27.

“When you’re not getting a lot of hits, it helps when the other team does some things for you, like walking batters and throwing a lot of wild pitches, but that’s not something you count on going into games,” Irish coach Paul Mainieri said. “We need to swing the bats a lot better than we did these last two days.”

Designated hitter Matt Bransfield was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and hit his second solo home run in as many days. Shortstop Matt Macri had a homer, three RBIs and three runs scored, as he went 1-for-1 on the night with three walks and a sacrifice fly.

“We just seemed very tentative out there on the field and especially at the plate,” Mainieri said. “We’ve just been kind of in a little bit of a rut right now swinging the bats. We manufactured a few runs here and there.”

The Irish got out to an early lead with a three-run first as both center fielder Danny Dressman and second baseman Steve Sollmann drew walks. An error on a ball hit by Matt Edwards allowed Dressman to score. After a walk by left fielder Steve Andres loaded the bases, Cody Rizzo and Macri hit sacrifice flies to score a pair of runs.

The Irish matched a third-inning run from Detroit in the bottom half of the frame when Bransfield smacked an RBI single to left to score Andres for the 4-1 lead.

Notre Dame would blow the game open, however, with three runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth for the 11-1 lead.

With the game in hand, Mainieri began to clear his bench and bullpen as several Irish position players and six pitchers saw action.

“It was good to see so many guys get out there on the mound,” Mainieri said. “I thought a couple of the guys threw very well. That was good to see. But it was just good to get that one in the win column.”

The Titans would make a little bit of a run, however, with four runs in the seventh off righty side-armer Tyler Jones.

In the eighth inning, Detroit narrowed the Irish lead to 11-6 with an RBI ground ball from left fielder Mark Moehlig.

But with every starter but Edwards and Macri out of the game, the Irish put five runs on the board in the bottom of the inning to put the game out of reach. In the inning, three Irish batters drew walks, center fielder Alex Netty had a two-run double off the wall in right center and let fielder Brennan Grogan closed out the scoring with a two-run triple.

Freshman Jess Stewart would get the win on the hill for the Irish, working three innings and allowing one run in a planned rotation.