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Baseball: Sharpley’s walk-off homer highlights trip for ND

Lorenzo Reyes | Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Over the week-long spring break, Notre Dame saw a bit of everything, ranging from a walk-off home run by junior Evan Sharpley, to a 16-run loss to No. 1 Arizona. Overall, the Irish went 4-4 for the week.

Notre Dame 5, Saint Mary’s 0

Notre Dame junior starter David Phelps stole the show against the Mountaineers March 1, allowing only four hits in seven scoreless innings.

The Irish pitching staff struck out a total of 14 Saint Mary’s batters in the game, the most since disposing of 14 USF batters last May in the Big East tournament.

Notre Dame’s offense put up an impressive performance as well, getting multiple hits from sophomore designated hitter Billy Boockford and freshman outfielder Golden Tate. Tate picked up two doubles and two runs in his 2-for-3 outing. His doubles both started Irish rallies that helped give Notre Dame the win. Boockford went 2-for-2 with an RBI double that brought in senior catcher Sean Gaston in the bottom of the second.

In the fourth frame, freshman third baseman Mick Doyle brought Tate in with an RBI single, and a Brett Lilley single brought another Irish run in. Lilley finished the day with two RBI. With Notre Dame’s lead at 3-0, Phelps had all the support he would need to finish off the victory.

Notre Dame 6, Saint Bonaventure 4

In the bottom of the eighth, the game was knotted at four when sophomore A.J. Pollock stepped to the plate with two outs. The rightfielder delivered a two-run double that put the Irish up 6-4. Headed into the ninth inning, Irish junior closer Kyle Weiland had the task of securing the victory and did just that, tossing a scoreless frame to close out the game and pick up the save.

Tate continued to contribute, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored against the Bonnies. Tate also added a stolen base in the contest that helped spark the Irish.

Despite not picking up the decision, Irish freshman starter Brian Dupra pitched well, going 6 and 1/3 innings and allowing only three hits and two earned runs. On only 74 pitches, the righty struck out four batters and didn’t allow a walk. Irish senior reliever Tony Langford picked up the win although he allowed a two-run homerun and surrendered the lead.

Boston College 7, Notre Dame 2

In the second half of a double-header, Notre Dame dropped the decision to the Eagles partly because it allowed three home runs on the evening.

Senior pitcher Wade Korpi’s homecoming to Lake Worth, Fla., was ruined despite a decent outing. The southpaw went 6 and 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on nine hits. Three of those hits were infield singles.

Eagles sophomore catcher Tony Sanchez hit a three-run blast in the fifth inning to put Boston College up 5-1. In the seventh and ninth frames the Eagles picked up solo home runs from senior outfielder Ryan Akel and freshman catcher Dave Laufer to give Boston College more than enough run support to beat the Irish.

Notre Dame 11, Maine 10

As the game into extra innings, Notre Dame junior third basemen Evan Sharpley had seen enough action Tuesday. Sharpley belted a two-out solo walk-off home run in the bottom of the tenth to propel the Irish over the Black Bears on March 4.

Sharpley entered the contest in the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter, and the move paid off as the infielder went 3-for-3 on the day with a double and three RBIs.

Notre Dame’s bullpen contributed 4 and 1/3 scoreless innings to bide time for the Irish bats to get the squad back in it with late runs. Sophomore relievers David Mills and Stephen Mazur, as well as junior Brett Graffey led the charge, striking out six, and allowing only two walks.

Lehigh 4, Notre Dame 2

On Thursday, Notre Dame allowed a pair of home runs that gave its opponent the runs to pick up a victory. Lehigh combined the long ball with a solid pitching performance from sophomore hurler Rob Russel, who allowed two runs in 6 and 2/3 innings.

Mountain Hawks sophomore closer Jordan Warncke picked up his second save of the season with 2 and 1/3 innings of scoreless relief that secured the Lehigh win, dropping the Irish record to 4-4 on the year.

Texas A & M Corpus Christi 5, Notre Dame 2

Tournament host Islanders benefited from a solid performance from their senior starting pitcher, Brian Anderson, who went seven innings without allowing a run to pick up the win.

Aside from the home-field advantage, Irish coach Dave Schrage said the credit should go to the Islanders’ hurler for the win.

“It was their home opener,” Schrage said. “They were excited to play and had a big crowd behind them but the credit should go to their pitcher. He did a great job against us, and overall had a good outing.”

Notre Dame starter Phelps fell to 1-2 on the year as he went six innings, allowing four earned runs and a season-high four walks.

Notre Dame 10, South Alabama 4

The Irish bounced back from an opening-round loss in the Whataburger Classic with a victory over the Jaguars on March 8. An eight-run fourth inning put Notre Dame past South Alabama, as the team strung together a series of hits.

“We put a lot of hits together, and hitting is contagious, so before we knew it, we had put up a solid inning that helped us get the win,” Schrage said.

Schrage said he hopes his offense can begin to produce on a game-to-game basis.

“I was pleased with the run, but we need to see more of these,” Schrage said. “The frustration comes when we can’t play consistent baseball and see these results in consecutive days.”

Korpi benefited from the Irish scoring and picked up his first win, going 5 and 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on nine hits.

Arizona 16, Notre Dame 0

In Notre Dame’s most lopsided defeat of the season, Arizona notched 20 hits and scored at least one run in every inning to crush the Irish Sunday.

Wildcats junior starter Ryan Perry excelled in the contest, going seven scoreless frames and allowing only a pair of hits while striking out seven.

“He’s a great talent,” Schrage said. “His pitches were hitting the 97 MPH mark. He had an excellent outing, and that’s why he’ll probably be one of the top-10 picks in the draft.”

Although the defeat was an ugly one for the Irish, Schrage tried to take some positives from the loss.

“This showed us that when we relax and play our style, that we’re a pretty good team,” Schrage said. “But we went out there and played nervous.”

After the bitter loss, however, the Irish are looking ahead.

“We have four days to put this behind us,” Schrage said. “This is a loss that can wake the team up – hit them right between the eyes. Hopefully we can turn it around and play better from here on out.”