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ND Baseball: Team rallies to finish with four wins in Fla.

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, March 20, 2007

After two frustrating shutout losses in the three-game Clearwater Invitational, Notre Dame used its momentum from a 10-inning, 11-8 victory over Webber International March 12 to win four of its last five spring break contests in the Sunshine State.”We really tried to build off of that good win [against Webber International],” Notre Dame coach Dave Schrage said. Notre Dame (8-9) put up four runs in the ninth to force the extra inning after three straight Irish batters stayed alive facing two-out, two-strike situations.Notre Dame then went 3-1 in Florida Gulf Coast University’s Saint Patrick’s Week Classic in Fort Myers to close out its trip. The Irish batted .303 and averaged seven runs per game for the trip, with a pair of freshmen leading the way. “[Infielder] A.J. Pollock had an outstanding trip, especially at the plate,” Schrage said. “[Catcher] Ryan Smith had a great trip behind the plate and with the bat.” The freshman duo was No. 1 and No. 2 on the team in batting average for the trip. Pollock hit .419, and Smith posted a .381 mark.Senior centerfielder Danny Dressman also had a solid trip, hitting .367 with six RBIs, including two in an 11-4 rout of Dayton. A seventh-inning walk in that game also gave Dressman a streak of eight times on base over a two-game span.The Irish pitching staff compiled a 2.88 ERA for the trip, holding opponents to a .239 batting average and posting a 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Sophomore righthander David Phelps ran his record to 3-1, giving up just four hits in seven innings in a 12-1 win over New York Tech. Despite the offensive surge and continued consistent pitching, Notre Dame’s early-season defensive woes continued in Florida. The Irish fell 5-3 to Florida Gulf Coast after errors caused them to squander the lead they held in the fourth inning – the fourth time this season unearned runs gave Notre Dame’s opponent the win. “In general, the most disappointing aspect [of the season] has been our defense,” Schrage said. “We’ve spent a lot of time on it. We have moved some guys around [from position to position] and maybe they aren’t very comfortable yet but it’s been disappointing.” Even though Notre Dame struggled in Florida, Schrage was confident his team is on its way to success.”We got a lot accomplished and found out a lot more about ourselves [in Florida],” Schrage said. “We’ve had a great record at Frank Eck in the past and it will be fun getting back.”Notre Dame returns to South Bend today to take on Cleveland State at 5:05 for the beginning of a seven-game homestand.