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BASEBALL: Korpi, Dupra shine in intra-squad series

Joe Meixell | Thursday, October 18, 2007

In the first game of Notre Dame’s annual intra-squad Blue-Gold series Tuesday, senior left-hander Wade Korpi won the battle between the top two Irish starting pitchers, leading the Blue team to an 8-1 win over the Gold team.

Korpi struck out six in 4.2 innings of work, while allowing just four hits and holding the Gold team scoreless.

“Wade’s been dominant all fall, like you saw today,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said. “He did some work with [Irish pitching coach Sherard Clinkscales] on his breaking ball and he’s throwing that pitch for a strike.”

Gold team junior right-hander David Phelps, Notre Dame’s ace last season, took the loss while giving up five earned runs in 4.2 innings.

“I’m not worried about Phelps because he’s pitched very well this fall,” Schrage said. “I think he made a few bad 0-2 pitches today. But he’s going to be a leader for the team in the spring.”

The Blue team jumped on Phelps early when leadoff hitter Brett Lilley lined a single to right. The senior shortstop came around to score when the next batter, sophomore left fielder Ryne Intlekofer, drilled a double into the left-center field gap. Intlekofer went 2-for-5 and also reached on an error and scored a run.

“Ryne’s a good scrappy guy at the plate who always puts the ball in play,” Schrage said. “We’d like to make him a utility player and he played left and played well today.”

Phelps was able to avoid further trouble in the first thanks to a sliding catch by senior left fielder Ross Brezovsky and a running grab by sophomore center fielder Bill Warrender. Korpi, meanwhile, almost lost his shutout in the first, but the Blue team displayed some stellar defense of its own.

The Gold leadoff batter, sophomore designated hitter Matt Grosso, reached base on an infield single. Gold sophomore second baseman Herman Petzold then tried to bunt Grosso to second but reached on an error by Korpi. After Phelps errantly threw to first, the Gold team had runners on first and third with nobody out.

Brezovsky came up next and hit a fly ball into short center field. Blue junior center fielder A.J. Pollock made the catch. When Grosso tagged up and tried to score, Pollock cut down the runner at home.

Pollock, who started at third base for the Irish last season, then made a full-extension diving catch in right-center field to end the inning.

“A.J.’s just a great athlete, and he’s already a solid defensive outfielder,” Schrage said. “We’re going to use his speed to help us win some games.”

At the plate, Pollock reached base in three-of-four plate appearances stole a base and added an RBI.

After the early scare, Korpi rolled through the Gold order, facing just 19 batters in his 4.2 innings.

“I was getting ahead of batters and that was the key,” Korpi said. “I was throwing my fastball for strikes so I was also able to throw my off-speed pitches.”

The Blue squad scored two runs in the third, fifth and seventh innings to put the game out of reach. Jeremy Barnes picked up an RBI in the third, with Pollock and Blue freshman first baseman Ty Adams driving in runs in the fifth.

Blue freshman catcher Cameron McConnell hit the first home run of the Blue-Gold series when he nailed a solo shot down the left field line in the sixth.

In the second game of the series, Gold won 3-1 behind strong pitching from Brian Dupra, who went 5.2 innings and allowed just one run while striking out three. Grosso, Brezovsky and center fielder David Mills all scored for the Gold squad.

The third game in the Blue-Gold Series will be played today at 4:30 p.m. at Eck Stadium.