Irish take Frank Eck opener over Cleveland State
Joe Meixell | Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The Irish used a three-run second inning to defeat Cleveland State 5-3 in their home opener Tuesday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium.
The success brought Notre Dame’s record to an even 9-9. Freshman right-hander Eric Maust worked five innings to get the win, allowing just one earned run on six hits.
“It feels really good to get your first win at home out of the way,” said Maust, who was the first Irish freshman to start a home opener for the team since 2003. “Hopefully, we can start a winning streak.”
Despite squandering several opportunities to break the game open early, the continued hot hitting of senior center fielder Danny Dressman and a breakout game by freshman right fielder Brayden Ashdown gave Notre Dame enough offense to earn the win.
Dressman, who was named to the Big East Weekly Honor Roll last week, went 2-for-4 with an RBI, giving him 13 hits in his last 24 at bats.
“Hitting’s contagious,” Dressman said. “If we can do it early and sustain it, we’re going to win a lot of ballgames.”
Ashdown, meanwhile, had just one hit in his first 15 at-bats of the season before going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs Tuesday.
The Irish were given a slew of chances early on as Cleveland State made three errors in the first three innings. Notre Dame scored a total of four runs in those frames but allowed the Vikings to stay in the game. In the third, the Irish had the bases loaded with one out, having already plated one. But junior designated hitter Ross Brezovsky, who had already knocked in a run, rapped into a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.
The Irish also wasted chances to put the game out of reach in the fourth and fifth, failing to score after putting the leadoff man on base in each inning.
But the Irish pitching staff held on to the early lead, scattering eight hits and getting out of the few jams they encountered. Junior Joey Williamson struck out three and surrendered one run in two innings after coming on to relieve Maust.
Senior Jess Stewart and sophomore Kyle Weiland also worked an inning in relief. Weiland, who closed out 16 games last season, recorded his first save of this campaign.
“Our pitching’s going to win a lot of games for us, especially our bullpen,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said. “You saw a little of that today.”
Schrage, who was coaching in his first home game at Notre Dame, said he hopes his team feels more relaxed after getting its first win at Eck Stadium this season.
“You feel more energy when you’re playing at home,” he said.
The Irish continue their homestand today when they take on Western Michigan at 5:05 p. m.