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Baseball: Back to basics

Chris Masoud | Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Taking a break from a rigorous schedule can be the best thing for a struggling team. With the Irish coming off a 1-5 run against Big East foes South Florida and Georgetown, Oakland provided that relief, as Notre Dame took full advantage of the non-conference matchup to get back to the fundamentals.

Notre Dame (10-17, 1-5) pounded out 12 hits against the Golden Grizzlies (5-15) en route to a convincing 13-6 victory. The Irish were paced at the plate by freshman second basemen Frank DeSico, who went 4 for 4, including a towering solo home run in the third inning to bring the Irish even at the time.

“I thought we really started swinging the bats in Georgetown,” Schrage said, “So hopefully that will continue, and we still have to shore up our defense. Our guys have been working really hard on their approaches, extra hitting. It’s paying off for them.”

The Irish bats came alive in the third inning against Oakland starter Aaron Wick, as senior designated hitter David Mills followed DeSico’s home run with a triple to right-center. Senior first basemen Casey Martin knocked in Mills with a sacrifice fly, and center fielder Bill Warrender followed with a walk. Senior right fielder Brayden Ashdown capped the Irish rally by clearing the bases with his first home run of the season.

The biggest surprise of the game came from Irish starting pitcher Adam Norton (1-0), the regular starting third baseman. In his first start in an Irish uniform, the freshman tossed four innings, racking up six strikeouts and allowing only two earned runs.

“I thought the biggest thing about our pitchers was that we didn’t walk anybody,” Schrage said. “One of the things we’ve been hammering home is [not] giving up free bases. When you do that, you’ll win a lot of games.”

The Golden Grizzlies mounted a comeback in the top of the seventh, plating two runs on a series of Irish miscues in the field. Senior reliever Steve Mazur entered the game with two outs and the tying run at the plate, but he induced a ground ball out to hold the Irish lead at 8-5.

Notre Dame added some insurance in the bottom half of the inning, as the first three batters reached to load the bases with nobody out. Junior David Casey entered as a pinch hitter and knocked in a run following an error in the field, and Mills cleared the bases later in the inning with his second triple of the afternoon to finish with four RBIs.

“That was big,” Schrage said. “I thought David Casey just battling and putting the ball in play, that kind of opened the floodgates and we were able to score five and bounce back. We showed some resilience, and we need more of that.”

The Irish look to mount their first winning streak of the season since the season-opening series when they take on struggling Western Michigan (5-21) tonight before Big East play resumes.

“Every win is an important win for us,” Schrage said. “We need to get on a roll, we need to get on a winning streak. I think tomorrow is one of the biggest games we’re going to play this season. We can’t be win, lose, win, lose, which is what we’ve been doing. Tomorrow I’m going to be really excited to see if we come out and play and get after it.”

First pitch is at 5:05 p.m. at Frank Eck Stadium.