Baseball: ND takes Big East road series
Michael Bryan | Monday, April 21, 2008
While Notre Dame’s big winning streak came to an end this weekend, the Irish took two of three on the road against Big East rival West Virginia. With the wins Notre Dame (25-10-1, 12-3 Big East) preserved its first-place standing in the conference, leading Cincinnati by one game.
Notre Dame 8, West Virginia 4
The Irish pushed their winning streak to 11 games Friday with a big victory to open the series in Morgantown.
Junior pitcher David Phelps held the Mountaineers (28-11, 8-7 Big East) to three runs and striking out 10 in seven innings of work. West Virginia entered the series batting .364 as a team, tops in all of college baseball.
Notre Dame jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning, scoring two runs that reached on walks. Freshman third baseman Greg Sherry, who was 3-for-3 in the game, came through with a two-out RBI single to help the Irish out to an early lead.
Junior first baseman Evan Sharpley then extended the Notre Dame lead with a solo home run in the third, his eighth of the season.
The Irish expanded the lead to 5-0 in the fourth inning, with a Sharpley RBI single plating one of the runs. Sophomore center fielder A.J. Pollock was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score the other run.
West Virginia responded and closed the gap in the fourth, scoring two runs to cut the lead to 5-2. Phelps gave up another run in the fifth, but held the Mountaineers scoreless in his final two innings of work.
Notre Dame added a couple of insurance runs with sophomore David Mills two-run double. Senior Tony Langford and junior Kyle Weiland each pitched a scoreless inning to preserve the win.
West Virginia 11, Notre Dame 6
Mountaineers starter Steve Morrison was a workhorse for West Virginia, throwing 140 pitches over 8.2 innings of work to get the win on Saturday. The nation’s top offense touched up the Irish for eight runs in the first five innings and cruised to victory.
West Virginia snapped the Irish’s 11-game winning streak with the win, touching up Notre Dame senior Wade Korpi with four runs in three innings.
The Irish opened the game with an early strike, going up 1-0 off a sophomore designated hitter David Mills inside the park homerun. Notre Dame managed several hits off Morrison early, but left five runners on base in the first two innings.
Morrison then settled down and allowed just one run over the next seven innings. Notre Dame rallied for four runs in the ninth to make things interesting, but fell short of seriously threatening the Mountaineer lead.
Sophomore outfielder A.J. Pollock and senior outfielder Ross Brezovsky each had two-hit games for the Irish to lead the team offensively.
West Virginia first baseman Joe Agreste was 3-for-4 with four RBIs, including a solo homer. Shortstop Tyler Kuhn and center fielder Austin Markel also had three hits for the Mountaineers.
Notre Dame 9, West Virginia 4
The Irish took the rubber match Sunday, getting seven strong innings from sophomore Eric Maust and another big homerun from David Mills.
Maust, who played in the Blue-Gold game just a day earlier as a punter, picked up his fourth win of the season. The right-hander struck out six and walked none, giving up four earned runs on the game.
The Mountaineers tagged Maust for three long balls early, getting two solo shots in the second to grab a 2-1 lead. After the Irish went up 3-2 West Virginia struck back with a two-run homer from Jordan Yost to take back the lead in the fourth.
Notre Dame showed its resiliency, striking right back with two runs in the top of the fifth. Senior catcher Sean Gaston singled home a run, and A.J Pollock scored on a groundout after a double and a stolen base.
With the Irish holding on to a one run lead, Mills sealed the win in the seventh. With the bases full Mills pulled a 1-0 pitch over the right field fence for his first career grand slam.
Relievers Steven Mazur, Mills, and Kyle Weiland combined to hold the Mountaineers hitless in the final two innings.
Notre Dame will return to action with two non-conference games this week against Chicago State and IPFW Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, before a Big East showdown with third-place St. John’s this weekend.