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Baseball: Irish take Game 2 from UM

Alex Barker | Thursday, April 23, 2009

After an untimely error cost them the first game of the evening, the Irish were able to ride strong pitching and a giant fifth inning to a split of their shortened doubleheader with Michigan on Wednesday night at Frank Eck Stadium.

Each contest only went seven innings as the first game had to be rescheduled because of a rainout Tuesday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Notre Dame (23-15, 8-7 Big East) comeback attempt in Game 1 was thwarted when a throwing error by junior second baseman Ryne Intlekofer in the final inning allowed the Wolverines (22-7) runner to score from second, giving Michigan a 3-2 victory.

Senior Sam Elam took the loss in his first start since last season, allowing just two earned runs and striking out nine in six strong innings.

Although Notre Dame was handed a disappointing result, Irish coach Dave Schrage acknowledged that it wasn’t for the lack of pitching.

“[Elam] really hit his spots today. He had great command the whole time,” he said. “He pitched well enough to get the victory and you hate to waste great pitching like that.”

The Irish offense did not come alive until the sixth inning, scoring two runs to tie the game before giving up the game winner in the seventh.

Junior A. J. Pollock’s double down the left field line and senior Evan Sharpley’s single in the sixth inning accounted for the only Irish runs in the contest.

The second game began much like the first as Michigan jumped out to an early lead in the second inning behind a solo home-run off freshman starter Ryan Richter.

Looking to keep Notre Dame’s offense at bay as they had done all afternoon, Michigan took the field in the fifth inning up 3-0 and just nine outs away from the sweep. The Irish had other plans, however.

After back-to-back walks to sophomore Greg Sherry and Pollock, junior Brayden Ashdown reached on an error by the Wolverines third baseman to load the bases with nobody out. Senior Jeremy Barnes stepped up and pounded a single to center field, scoring Sherry and Pollock and putting the Irish on the scoreboard.

Just two pitches later, junior Casey Martin was hit in the stomach to load up the bases once again. Junior David Mills then got in on the action drawing a walk to force in the tying run.

Unlike in previous games where they have struggled to produce runs with runners in scoring position, the Irish got another one when sophomore Mick Doyle hit a deep fly ball that allowed Ashdown to tag and score.

“That was the third time we had the bases loaded with no outs and Barnes, who has been a big leader for us, really came through. Once he got the hit, it really relaxed us. Mills and Doyle each had great at bats after that and came through to help us get the victory,” Schrage said.

That was all the production the team would need as sophomore Todd Miller came in and shutdown the Wolverines offense, picking up the two-inning save in the process.

Sophomore Cameron McConnell made a big play in the seventh inning, throwing out a Wolverine runner attempting to advance to second base, his second of the game.

“That was a huge play for us,” Schrage said. “He has done that all year. He’s been able to throw guys out. Your defense starts behind the plate and when you can shut down the running game, that’s big for us.”

Richter allowed three earned runs in five innings of work to get the win, improving to 4-1 on the season.

Notre Dame will travel to Louisville, Ky., to face the Cardinals in a three-game Big East series schedule to begin Friday at 6:30 p.m.