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Baseball: Irish post six losses in road trip

Chris Masoud | Tuesday, March 16, 2010

While the rest of the student body dreads the end of Spring Break, the return to campus could not have come sooner for the Irish. Notre Dame compiled a 3-6 record during the nine-game road trip that featured seven different teams across two states.

The Irish (7-8) jumped to early leads against Harvard (3-4) and Kansas State (13-2), but were unable to maintain their consistency at the plate, falling to the Crimson 9-6 and the Wildcats 5-2 in the first two games of the Stetson Tournament in DeLand, Fla.

“We hit some homeruns early in the season and sometimes the team gets the tendency thinking they need to hit homeruns to score runs,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said. “When that happens, you get a lot of fly outs.”

Notre Dame salvaged the final game of the tournament against host Stetson, as junior pitcher Brian Dupra limited the Hatters (8-8) to just one earned run over seven innings en route to a 4-2 victory. Senior outfielder Brayden Ashdown and freshman second baseman Frank DeSico each had a pair of hits, while junior catcher Cameron McConnell added a two-run single.

“I still think pitching is the strength of our team, so we need to start pitching more innings, pitch deeper into games so we don’t have to tax our bullpen,” Schrage said. “I think sometimes there’s no control over that, but it’s taxing on your bullpen if you’re going to your bullpen in the fourth, fifth or sixth inning.”

The Irish next traveled to Edinburg, Texas for a two-game series against Texas-Pan American, but were unable to carry the momentum. Notre Dame fell to the Broncos (7-3) 9-7 and 10-4 in consecutive days, as the starting pitching failed to keep the game within reach.

“We just need to get some of those guys to get us into the seventh inning,” Schrage said. “Their arms are at a point where they should be able to do that, get up to around 90 pitches, and hopefully 90 pitches will be enough to get us through seven innings.”

Notre Dame rounded out the trip with a four-game set at the Irish Baseball Classic in San Antonio, Texas. The Irish opened up the tournament with a 10-6 victory over Bradley (4-6).

Senior leftfielder Ryan Connolly belted a solo home run and contributed 3 RBIs to pace the offense.

The Irish fell to Pacific (10-5) the following day 8-4, but Dupra played the role of stopper against Gonzaga (7-7) once again to propel Notre Dame into the title game. Dupra turned in a career start and the best performance by a starter all season, holding the Bulldogs to two earned runs over 7 innings while fanning 8 in a 6-3 win.

Senior first baseman Casey Martin continued his torrid hitting, emerging as Notre Dame’s biggest threat at the plate. Martin jacked a three-home run in the first to give the Irish a lead they would not relinquish.

Falling in the championship game in a rematch against Pacific 3-2, the Irish hope to improve their record to .500 in the home opener Saturday against Michigan State.