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Baseball: Team remains winless after home tournament

Chris Masoud | Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Despite hosting the Irish classic over spring break, Notre Dame failed to deliver a win on St. Patrick’s Day, falling to Iowa in extra innings. The Irish finished the tournament winless after dropping a second game to the University of Iowa Hawkeyes on Friday, losing to Gonzaga on Saturday and earning a tie on Sunday.

“I think we pitched very well,” Irish coach Mik Aoki said. “If you look at the entire body of work, I think we defended it pretty well. We just still are a work-in-progress with the offense — it’s just been a struggle.”

Notre Dame (7-10-1) has yet to find its rhythm on offense, as the lineup failed to score more than three runs in all four games of the weekend tournament. The Irish have not posted a double-digit run total since tallying 19 runs in a rout of Purdue on Feb. 19.

“Our at-bats are better,” Aoki said. “We faced two pretty good starters from Iowa and two pretty good starting pitchers from Gonzaga. I was disappointed in the extra-inning game that we lost against Iowa because I think the [pitcher] they had in at the end of the game — we should have done a better job handling him.”

With the exception of an 11-2 loss to Iowa on Saturday, the Irish starting pitching once again gave the team a chance to win by turning in quality performances. Sophomore righty Adam Norton tossed eight innings, allowing just one run and six hits during a 4-3 loss to the Hawkeyes (7-10) on Thursday.

While Aoki expects freshman lefty Anthony McIver to start a number of midweek games for the Irish, he said that Norton would factor into a number of pitching situations as the season progresses.

“[Norton] is going to be a very competitive guy on the mound for us,” Aoki said. “He does a really good job of commanding his fastball, as good as anybody on our staff with changing speeds. He’s a strike-thrower. You simply can’t overvalue the ability for kids to throw strikes and not walk people.”

Notre Dame struggled to score against the Bulldogs (10-7-1) in both games over the weekend, falling to Gonzaga 4-1 on Saturday and settling for a 3-3 tie on Sunday after 12 innings. Senior right-hander Cole Johnson threw seven innings, yielding a single run on Saturday, which was good enough for his fifth quality start in as many outings.

Senior right-hander Todd Miller also posted a quality start on Sunday, holding the Bulldogs to a pair of earned runs in seven innings of work.

“[The seniors] have done so well,” Aoki said. “It’s something that I addressed. They have to resist the temptation to feel like they have to go out there and be perfect. I hope that their emotional and mental maturity is going to allow them to stay the course.”

The Irish host Oakland (3-9) today at 5:35 p.m. at Frank Eck Stadium. Notre Dame seeks to end a four-game losing streak with a victory in its home opener.