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ND Baseball: Hidden gem

Bill Brink | Wednesday, May 2, 2007

In an ugly game full of mishaps, Matt Weglarz provided the one shining moment.

With the game tied at three in the bottom of the ninth, the catcher connected with a 1-1 pitch from Joe Skinner and sent it well over the left-field wall to give the Irish a 4-3 victory over Illinois-Chicago Tuesday.

“He hung me that same pitch earlier in the at-bat, first pitch,” Weglarz said. “[First baseman Chris] Dury and some other guys said he was hanging that pitch there. And I was kind of, not sitting on it, I guess, but looking for it. He threw it right on the inside corner and I turned on it.”

The Irish were expecting to face Skinner as the starter, but Illinois-Chicago changed at the last minute.

“He’s a strike-thrower,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said. “Weglarz was looking to get on base, basically, and hit the ball hard.”

Sophomore Brett Graffy got the win coming in on relief in the sixth, holding the Flames to just three hits and no earned runs. Junior Wade Korpi started the game, pitching five innings and allowing two runs on three hits, striking out three and walking one.

“[The] biggest positive of the night was Korpi and Graffy,” Schrage said. “As we go on in the season, I don’t want to jump ahead to think about the conference tournament, but if we get there we’re gonna need guys like that to pitch well.”

Illinois-Chicago used four pitchers, none going more than 3 1-3 innings. Matt Weldon started the game for the Flames.

The Flames came out bunting – laying down three in a row at one point and five total in the game.

“A team like UIC coming in and playing against us is a big game for us but I think it might be an even bigger game for them,” Weglarz said. “… I think them playing small ball kept the game close, and that’s what they probably needed to do to win.”

The game saw five errors, four unearned runs, 10 walks, three hit batsmen and two wild pitches.

The scoring started early for the Irish. In the bottom of the first, second baseman Jeremy Barnes ripped a 1-1 pitch past Flames third baseman Nick Rainwater with the bases loaded to score third baseman A.J. Pollock.

The Flames were dormant until the third, when Korpi ran into trouble. With runners on second and third, Rainwater grounded out to third, scoring catcher Ben Trotter.

With Barnes at the plate, left fielder Ross Brezovsky on third and Weglarz on second in the bottom of the third, Flames pitcher Grant Kohlstaedt’s pitch bounced in the dirt and got away from Trotter, allowing Brezovsky to score and Weglarz to advance to third. Barnes then grounded out to short to score Weglarz and push the score to 3-1.

The Flames turned the tables and took advantage of Notre Dame fielding miscues in the fifth. Following a double down the left field line by first baseman Jake Carr and a walk issued to Trotter, Korpi’s pitch to right fielder Ty Rubio fell short of the plate. Weglarz got in front of it in time to throw down to third in an attempt to catch Carr, who was advancing to third on the wild pitch. Weglarz’ throw, however, went wide of Pollock and into left field, allowing Carr to cross and bring the score to 3-2.

Illinois-Chicago tied the game at three in the sixth, when second baseman David Cales hit a hard shot that bounced into left field after Pollock misplayed it, allowing Larry Gempp Jr. to score.