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Baseball: Irish stop slide with 7-3 victory

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Second baseman Jeremy Barnes and left fielder Ross Brezovsky scored two runs each as Notre Dame recovered from a two-game slide at Pittsburgh over the weekend with a 7-3 non-conference victory over Oakland Tuesday at Frank Eck Stadium.

“After last weekend, we needed something,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said. “Every day, we have to play like there’s no tomorrow.”

Notre Dame (13-14, 1-4 Big East) got on the board first, seeing 31 pitches from Golden Grizzlies hurler Scott Boleski in the first inning and plating a run by shortstop Brett Lilley on a sacrifice fly by center fielder Danny Dressman.

The Irish scored again in the second on an RBI single by third baseman A. J. Pollock, but stranded three runners when designated hitter Tony Langford struck out looking with the bases loaded.

Notre Dame left 14 runners on base Tuesday, continuing a trend that dates back to the South Florida series March 24-26. Including that series, the Irish have stranded 9.6 runners per game over the last two weeks.

“The top of our order is doing a great job of getting on, but we have to drive them in,” Schrage said.

Notre Dame got another run in the third when a double by left fielder Ross Brezovsky scored second baseman Jeremy Barnes, but once again the Irish couldn’t plate a second runner.

Catcher Matt Smith grounded out to third, and right fielder Brayden Ashdown flied out to strand Barnes.

Boleski had a rough start to his outing, allowing three runs on five hits while walking four batters in the first three innings. He also threw two wild pitches and balked once.

But starting in the fourth, Boleski settled down, allowing just two base runners and no hits or runs before being pulled with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.

Oakland (8-16) scored its first run in the top of sixth on an RBI single by third baseman Andy Shepherd. The Golden Grizzlies threatened to score more, putting runners on second and third with two outs, but left fielder Drew Jenison grounded out to retire the side.

Notre Dame responded in the seventh, scoring three runs against Oakland reliever Ben Darga to take a 6-1 lead. Langford singled and got to second on a sacrifice bunt by Dressman, then advanced to third on a single by Barnes and scored on a base hit by Brezovsky.

Ashdown advanced the runners with a bunt, and Lilley drove in Barnes with a single. With the bases loaded, Pollock got drilled in the knee with a pitch to force in Brezovsky.

Oakland got two runs in the eighth against Irish reliever Mike Dury. First baseman Ryan Heath and center fielder Justin Wilson reached on errors and then scored on consecutive singles by Shepherd and Jenison to make the score 6-3.

Right-hander Kyle Weiland then replaced Dury on the hill and got pinch-hitter Andrew Stafford to bounce back to the mound to end the threat.

Weiland then showed he could contribute offensively as well, singling to lead off the bottom of the eighth and scoring on a ground out by Smith to put his team up by four.

“That was the first time I’ve been up since high school,” Weiland said. “There was no pressure on me. [Running the bases] was weird. I wasn’t sure what I was doing out there.”

Weiland went back to the mound in the ninth and allowed two runners to get on, but managed to get three outs to end the game and earn the save.