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Irish recover after dropping two due to errors

Fran Tolan | Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Irish surrendered three unearned runs in each of a pair of 4-3 losses to Cincinnati in the first two games of their weekend series at Marge Schott Stadium. On Sunday, visiting Notre Dame rebounded to take the final contest 9-5.

Cincinnati 4, Notre Dame 3

The Irish were unable to capitalize on a strong start by senior Dan Kapala as they stranded 13 runners and could not hold on to a 3-0 first inning lead.

Kapala allowed just one earned run in six innings, dropping his season ERA to 1.46. He surrendered five hits while striking out three.

But in the bottom of the fifth inning, Kapala’s own two-out throwing error opened the door for a Cincinnati rally that culminated in a three-run triple to right field by Bearcats first baseman Neall French. French, a fifth-year senior, went 3-for-4 in the contest.

Cincinnati sophomore righthander Steve Blevins improved to 5-4 on the season. Blevins went eight innings and threw 141 pitches before being relieved by junior Billy Welsh, who recorded his fourth save by working a scoreless ninth.

Senior shortstop Brett Lilley went 3-for-4 with a run and moved to the top of the team batting charts with a .396 season average.

Cincinnati 4, Notre Dame 3

For the seventh time this season, unearned runs proved to be the difference in an Irish loss.

Sophomore righthander David Phelps went all eight innings for the Irish, finishing with seven strikeouts and just one earned run.

But Irish catcher Matt Weglarz’s sixth inning throwing error allowed the Bearcats to break a 3-3 tie.

Cincinnati sophomore lefthander Dan Osterbrock got the complete-game victory and held the Irish scoreless after regaining the lead in the sixth to improve his record to 5-1.

Osterbrock allowed five hits and did not walk a batter while striking out seven.

Irish senior centerfielder Danny Dressman went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored but his teammates got just three hits in 27 combined at bats.

Notre Dame has hit just .240 in the eight games started by Phelps (4-3) this season. The team is now 3-15 when scoring four or fewer runs.

Notre Dame 9, Cincinnati 5

Notre Dame salvaged the final contest of the three-game weekend series behind a five-run third inning and a big day from sophomore second baseman Jeremy Barnes.

Barnes went 4-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored as he raised his season average from .247 to .276.

In the third inning, first-pitch singles from A.J. Pollock, Ross Brezovsky, Barnes and Mike Dury chased Bearcats starter Michael Hill. The Irish touched up the sophomore righthander for seven runs in just 2 1/3 innings before he was pulled. Dressman, Barnes, Dury, and freshmen Ryan Smith and Michael Wright all knocked in runs for the Irish in the big inning.

Sophomore righthander Kyle Weiland got a no-decision in his first career start for the Irish. Weland was charged with four runs on seven hits and two walks.

Junior righthander Joey Williamson replaced Weiland and did not allow an earned run in four innings of action. Weiland struck out four and got the win to improve his record to 2-2 on the season.

Senior righthander Jess Stewart worked the final two innings for the Irish, recording his first save of the season.

The Irish improved to 14-16 overall and 2-6 in Big East play. Cincinnati, which left 17 runners on base in the game, fell to 17-14 overall and 4-5 in conference play.

Notre Dame 3, IPFW 2

The Irish were held hitless by IPFW starter Stacy Herrold through four innings before reaching the sophomore righthander for three hits and the game’s two decisive runs in the fifth inning of a 3-2 victory over the Mastodons at Frank Eck Stadium Tuesday evening.

Host Notre Dame, which improved to 15-16 with the win, pushed across a run in the second inning to take the early lead. Designated hitter Matt Weglarz, a graduate student, walked and senior centerfielder Danny Dressman reached on an error by the pitcher Herrold. With the runners on second and third, Mike Dury grounded out to third, scoring Weglarz.

IPFW tied the score at 1-1 in the fifth when Mike Dury misplayed a grounder with runners on second and third.

“It was a tough play on a ball in the hole,” Irish head coach Dave Schrage said of Dury’s error.

But Dury redeemed himself in the Irish half of the inning as he drove a double off the left field wall to score sophomore second baseman Jeremy Barnes, who had reached on a single to center. Dury moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by freshman catcher Ryan Smith, then scored when freshman rightfielder Michael Wright laced a single past IPFW junior first baseman Nick Millspaugh.

“We moved Dury down to the seventh hole [in the batting order] tonight and he came through for us,” Schrage said.

Sophomore lefty Sam Elam got the start for the Irish and held IPFW scoreless for his four innings of work.

“One of the most encouraging things I saw today was Sam Elam’s performance,” Schrage said. “He’s a guy we could really use down the stretch [of the season].”

IPFW threatened against the Irish bullpen in the seventh and eight innings but both rallies were snuffed out by stellar defensive plays by the Irish. In the seventh, the Mastodons put runners on first and second against Irish freshman lefthander David Mills. With two outs, IPFW junior centerfielder hit a line

drive into shallow left field. But Irish leftfielder Ross Brezovsky charged hard and made a diving catch to bail out Mills.

In the eighth, the Mastodons again put two men on, this time with one out against Irish junior righthander Tony Langford. The Irish then turned a 4-6-3 double play to squash IPFW’s scoring chance. “Our defense played very well tonight,” Schrage said, whose club allowed three unearned runs in each of its two losses to Cincinnati this weekend.

Langford also worked the ninth for the Irish to record his first save since the 2005 season. IPFW pulled to within 3-2 in the inning on a walk, a balk and two wild pitches, but Langford struck out the final two Mastodons to close out the victory.

Sophomore righthander Brett Graffy (2-2) got the win for the Irish by giving up one unearned run while pitching the fifth and sixth innings.