Baseball: Notre Dame sweeps another weekend series
Fran Tolan | Sunday, April 13, 2008
The Irish again showed their witch-like penchant for the broomstick with a sweep of Villanova this weekend.
Notre Dame has now swept three of the four Big East foes it has faced while running its conference record to 10-2. The Irish won after trailing Villanova on both Friday and Saturday before blowing the Wildcats out in the series’ finale Sunday.
“I thought our team played really, really well this weekend,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said. “We did a little bit of everything, coming from behind the first two games then playing really well again [Sunday] … It was a good weekend for us.”
Notre Dame 2, Villanova 1
The Irish scored a run in both the eighth and ninth innings and that was enough for ace David Phelps, who struck out eight batters and surrendered just five hits in 8 2/3 innings of work.
“Phelps had a lot more teeth on his fastball [than earlier in the season] and I think he just really dominated the game,” Schrage said.
Irish closer Kyle Weiland got the save after he relieved Phelps and recorded the last out in the ninth frame.
The Notre Dame offense threatened several times before finally breaking through in the eighth to tie the game. With one out, Irish first baseman Evan Sharpley smoked a one-out double into right field. Sophomore Ryne Intlekofer entered as a pinch-runner for Sharpley and the switch paid off as Intlekofer raced around to score on Irish second baseman Jeremy Barnes’ single.
Phelps held the Wildcats scoreless in their half of the eighth and the right-hander’s squad finally gave him a lead in the ninth frame. Irish right fielder Billy Boockford drew a leadoff walk then moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by third baseman Greg Sherry. Designated hitter David Mills eventually pushed an RBI single through the infield that proved to be the difference in the game.
“[Mills] came through with a big two-out single after Barnes did the same thing in the eighth,” Schrage said.
Villanova almost drew even in the ninth, chasing Phelps from the game with a single and walk.
But after throwing a wild pitch to put the runners on second and third, Weiland struck out Villanova catcher Wesley Borden to end the contest.
Notre Dame 8, Villanova 5
The Irish offense was cold for the first six innings Saturday as the team fell behind 3-1, but Notre Dame put together a five-run rally in the seventh frame to take the lead for good.
The Irish loaded the bases off Villanova starter Brian Streilein in the seventh before Barnes tied the game with a two-run single into center field.
“Jeremy Barnes had a couple real clutch hits for us [this weekend],” Schrage said. “His hit to knock in two runs [Saturday] was huge.”
Irish left fielder Ross Brezovsky then provided another big blow, crushing a home run well over the right-center field fence. Brezovsky’s blast was the highlight of his 3-for-5 day and gave the Irish a 6-3 lead.
Villanova climbed back into the game with two runs in the eighth inning but Notre Dame shut the door on the comeback with a pair of runs of its own in the ninth. Boockford and Sherry each knocked in an insurance run for Weiland, who worked the bottom of the ninth to pick up his fifth save of the season.
Irish senior southpaw Wade Korpi picked up the win, allowing three runs on seven hits over six innings of work. Korpi ran his record to 5-1 with his fifth straight victory.
Senior Tony Langford relieved Korpi and worked a scoreless inning before Weiland took care of the Wildcats in the final two frames.
Notre Dame 13, Villanova 0
Eight Notre Dame hitters picked up at least two hits as the Irish capped off the weekend by clobbering the Wildcats.
“The great thing right now about our lineup is everybody’s contributing, from the bottom of our order up, all nine guys,” Schrage said. “To get 20 hits in a ballgame is a real team effort. It’s great to see.”
Sophomore right-hander Eric Maust got the win for Notre Dame, throwing seven shutout innings despite tying a season high by walking four batters.
“Maust probably didn’t have his best stuff but he made pitches when he needed to and we played good defense behind him,” Schrage said. “… I’m sure if you asked Maust, he probably would take back the four walks but other than that he was superb.”
Irish sophomore centerfielder A.J. Pollock, the reigning Big East player of the week, went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored to lead the offensive charge for Notre Dame.