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Irish win one of three at the Beach

Joe Meixell | Monday, February 26, 2007

Notre Dame beat No. 12 TCU 4-1 Saturday as the Irish won one of three games for the second consecutive weekend. In the Baseball at the Beach Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the Irish also suffered losses at the hands of UNC-Wilmington and host Coastal Carolina.

Despite the losing record for the weekend, which dropped the team to 2-4 overall, Irish coach Dave Schrage said he was pleased with several aspects of his team’s play against warm-weather opponents with more game experience this year.

Although Notre Dame fell 9-4 to UNC-Wilmington Friday and 4-0 to Coastal Carolina Sunday, Schrage was impressed by his team’s performance at the plate.

“It may not show in the results, but we hit the ball really well,” Schrage said.

The Irish produced 11 hits against UNC-Wilmington but were done in by three sixth-inning errors in that allowed the Seahawks to score six runs. The Irish took a 3-0 lead in the third inning after senior designated hitter Mike Dury recorded his second of three RBIs for the game on a two-out triple that plated senior centerfielder Danny Dressman. Starting pitcher Wade Korpi allowed one run in the fourth before his defense allowed UNC-Wilmington to plate six runs in the decisive sixth inning.

“We just had one really, really bad inning,” Schrage said.

Korpi took the loss, giving up five runs, only one of them earned. The junior left-hander (1-1) also walked five and struck out one in 5 2-3 innings of work.

The Irish shook off the loss and defeated TCU 4-1 Saturday behind a strong start by sophomore right-hander David Phelps and three doubles by senior catcher Matt Weglarz. Phelps went six innings while giving up just one unearned run on five hits to notch his first win of the season. Despite leaving 10 men on base, the Irish offense provided more than enough support for Phelps and junior Joey Williamson, who worked the final three innings for the first save of his career. Junior second baseman Russ Brezovsky hit a two-run triple in the first and freshman Michael Wright’s groundball scored Weglarz three innings later to give the Irish a 3-0 lead. Weglarz smacked an RBI double in the fifth to finish the Irish scoring.

Schrage said the game was more lopsided than the final score indicated.

“It could have been 10-1 if we had gotten some more hits with runners in scoring position,” he said.

Notre Dame left 10 men on base against TCU.

The Irish were again unable to come up with a big hit in important situations against Coastal Carolina Sunday as they were blanked 4-0. In both the fourth and sixth innings, the Notre Dame was unable to score despite producing multiple hits. Coastal Carolina’s John Mariotti, who recorded the complete game victory, was able to induce a double play in the fourth and two key strikeouts in the sixth.

“We didn’t get the clutch hit to get us back in the game,” Schrage said.

Sophomore righty Brett Graffy took the loss in his first career start with the Irish, surrendering three runs on six hits and two walks in three innings. Seniors Mike Dury, Dan Kapala and Jess Stewart combined to finish the game for the Irish. The trio allowed just one run in five combined innings.

“The bullpen really shut them down and gave us an opportunity,” Schrage said.

He also praised his club’s pitching for the entire tournament.

Schrage said he was impressed by his team’s ability to limit opponents’ running games this weekend. After allowing 12 stolen bases in three games last weekend, the Irish surrendered just one in Myrtle Beach.

“That was one of our goals going in so that was a real positive that I saw,” he said.

Schrage also said that he would have liked to have won at least one more game this weekend, but believes that clutch hitting will come as the Irish play more games.

“All it takes is somebody to get really hot and carry you for a few games,” he said.