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Baseball: Sweet 16

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Notre Dame banged out 16 hits Tuesday, cruising to a 12-1 victory over Cleveland State at Frank Eck Stadium.

The Irish (36-9-1, 16-1-1 in the Big East) scored in six of their eight innings. The Vikings (8-30, 6-14 in the Horizon League), though, managed only three hits for the game and just one after the first inning.

“It’s always good for my heart to have a game like today when we win a game pretty handily,” Notre Dame coach Paul Mainieri said.

Already leading 4-0, Notre Dame blew the game wide open in the fourth, scoring five runs on three hits and driving Cleveland State starting pitcher Brian Long out of the game. Third baseman Jeremy Barnes drove in three of the runs with his second home run of the year.

Long pitched 3 1-3 innings, allowed nine runs on eight hits and walked four.

Notre Dame starting pitcher David Gruener threw just one inning, giving up two hits in a scoreless first. He was replaced by senior left-hander Tom Thornton, who threw two scoreless innings, allowing no hits and striking out one.

Thornton, who usually starts for the Irish on Sundays, missed the final game of the Connecticut series with a leg injury. Mainieri said he hasn’t decided if Thornton will start this coming Sunday against Louisville or if sophomore lefthander Wade Korpi, who pitched against the Huskies, will replace him.

“The test is going to be tomorrow, if his knee swells up and how he feels,” Mainieri said.

Four other pitchers, sophomore Joey Williamson and freshmen Brett Graffy, David Phelps and Sam Elam, combined to pitch the last six innings for Notre Dame. The four combined to allow one run on one hit and struck out seven Vikings.

Graffy (2-1) was credited with the win.

Cleveland State scored its lone run in the fifth inning. Designated hitter Sam Clyde walked to start the inning, advanced to second on a walk by center fielder John Westra, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by shortstop Bobby Cash.

Irish rallies in the first, second and third innings were cut short by base running mistakes. In the first, right fielder Danny Dressman was doubled up at second on a fly-out to center. In the second, first baseman Craig Cooper was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, and, in the third, second baseman Ross Brezovsky was doubled up on second after a line drive out.

“I watch big-league games and the same things happen,” Mainieri said of the baserunning errors. “Sometimes we want these kids to be perfect, but they make mistakes here and there. The important thing is they learned from it.”


u Mainieri was able to empty his bench late in the game, giving at bats to seniors Steve Andres and Eddie Smith, juniors Mike Dury and John Seabaugh, sophomore Chris Soriano and freshmen Eddie Mendiola and Evan Sharpley. In total, 23 Irish players saw playing time.

“It’s good to be able to get guys into the game that are practicing just as hard as the starters but don’t always get a chance to play,” Mainieri said.

u Starting catcher Sean Gaston did not play Tuesday due to stomach discomfort. Mainieri said he did not expect the illness to keep the junior out of any more games.

u The Irish will be in action again Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Frank Eck Stadium in a conference series against Louisville. Friday’s game will start at 6:05 p.m., Saturday’s game will begin at 1:05 p.m. and Sunday’s first pitch will be thrown 12:05 p.m.