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Baseball: Elam takes pitchers’ duel

Fran Tolan | Thursday, April 19, 2007

The term “pitcher’s duel” would be an understatement when describing Notre Dame’s 1-0, 10-inning victory over Purdue at Frank Eck Stadium Wednesday.

Notre Dame sophomore left-hander Sam Elam held the Boilermakers hitless for 7 2-3 innings while Purdue starter Matt Bischoff retired Notre Dame in order through eight.

“I’ve caught a couple no-hitters in my life, but I’ve never seen two no-hitters like that,” Irish fifth-year catcher Matt Weglarz said.

Elam finished with nine strikeouts and allowed just one hit in his nine full innings of work, while lowering his ERA to 3.75.

Elam and Bischoff ended up with no-decisions, as both left with the game scoreless after nine. For the Boilermakers, freshman southpaw Matt Jansen came in to work the 10th and retired the first two batters.

But Weglarz hit a double over third base, then went to third on a wild pitch. Irish senior first baseman Mike Dury then walked to bring up centerfielder Danny Dressman. Dressman lined a single that dropped in front of Purdue leftfielder Spencer Ingaldson to drive in the game’s lone run with only the fourth hit of the contest.

“I got a fastball, and I was just trying to get on top of it,” Dressman said. “I was able to hit it hard.”

The Boilermakers did threaten several times, but Elam was able to get out of each jam. He walked a pair of batters in the first before inducing a grounder to Irish shortstop Brett Lilley to end the inning. He also surrendered a walk before picking off the runner in the fourth.

Elam ran into trouble again when he walked Ingaldson to lead off the sixth. Ingaldson moved to second on a wild pitch then reached third on a sacrifice bunt by Boilermakers right fielder Alex Jaffee. With one out, the Irish pulled the infield in and Elam got Boilermakers designated hitter Ryan White to ground to Barnes, who held the runner at third before recording the out.

“[Elam] had a very live fastball and pitched out of a couple of big jams,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said.

The next batter, first baseman, Jeff Mojzik, walked before he stole second. With men on second and third, Purdue third baseman Dan Black drilled a line drive up the middle that appeared to be headed into centerfield for a two-run single. But Lilley dived to knock the liner down and fired to first to nab Black by a half-step.

But the Irish were unable to gain any momentum from Lilley’s play. In their half of the sixth, all three Irish batters struck out looking.

After Elam retired the side in order the next inning, the scoreboard still displayed all zeroes as the Irish came to bat and looked to end Bischoff’s bid for a perfect game.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Irish third baseman A.J. Pollock hit a hard grounder between first and second base. But Bischoff got his 19th straight out on a diving stab by the first baseman Mojzik, who flipped to the pitcher to retire Pollock at first. Bischoff, who was scheduled to work only three innings, then got Irish leftfielder Ross Brezovsky to fly out to left to end the inning.

In the eighth, Bischoff again got a boost from his defense. With one out in the Irish half of the inning, Dury lined a full-count pitch from Bischoff into the left-centerfield gap that hung up just long enough for centerfielder Jon Moore to run it down. Bischoff pointed out at his teammate in a gesture of gratitude before retiring Irish centerfielder Danny Dressman to end the inning.

Elam responded by retiring Purdue in order in the ninth. After striking out Boilermakers shortstop John Cummins for the third out with his 122nd pitch of the contest, Elam pumped his fist as he ran off the mound.

“I felt like it was our time right there,” Elam said. “We didn’t do it in the ninth, but we were able to get it done in the tenth and that’s all that matters.”

Irish junior right-hander Tony Langford did not give up a hit as he worked the 10th to get the win. He is now 2-0 on the season.