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Baseball: Veerkamp allows single run in win over IPFW

Vicky Jacobsen | Thursday, March 22, 2012

When Irish junior pitcher Patrick Veerkamp hit visiting IPFW’s leadoff man with a pitch, walked the second batter and gave up a single to the Mastodons’ third hitter, it looked like Notre Dame was in for a rough night on the mound. But the right-hander soon regained control of his pitches and the game, putting the Irish back on track for an 8-1 victory.

Veerkamp allowed one more walk and four more hits, but didn’t give up another run in five innings of work, which earned him his second win of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.77.

“I think he started to trust his stuff a little bit and get back into the strike zone, pitch a little bit more to contact. I think that was important for him,” Irish coach Mik Aoki said. “Sometimes with Patrick, I think it just takes him a little bit of time to settle into a game, so that’s one of the things hopefully we can work on, where soon as he gets in, he’s just comfortable to attack the hitters.”

The Mastodons (4-14) didn’t catch a break when Veerkamp left the game, as freshmen Matt Ternowchek and Cristian Torres, senior Joe Spano and sophomore Dan Slania combined to close out the game with four scoreless innings.

The Irish (12-7) tied the game in the second inning when IPFW junior pitcher Daniel Tursell walked freshman shortstop Jason McMurray, then gave up consecutive singles to freshman left fielder Conor Biggio and junior second baseman Frank DeSico. DeSico gave the Irish the lead in the fourth inning when he hit a two-run RBI single, scoring junior center fielder Charlie Markson and McMurray. In the seventh inning, he added his fourth and fifth RBI of the game, a career-high.

“I thought [DeSico] was big. He got that RBI that put us up and end up putting us up for good -that was a big one,” Aoki said. “We had had some opportunities with two outs to get some RBIs, which we hadn’t converted, and him punching that through the infield I thought was a really, really big moment in the game.”

DeSico attributed his performance to his typical attitude and help from his teammates.

“I just played like I try to play every day,” Desico said. “I come out here and I try to do as best I can, give a hundred percent and I have confidence in the guys that they’re going to do the same. We’ve been playing really well, so there’s not much more I can say.”

Notre Dame also scored in the fifth inning on an error and sophomore third baseman Eric Jagielo and Biggio knocked in runs in the fourth and seventh innings, respectively. However, the Irish left 12 men on base and hit into four double plays. Aoki said the Irish could have done more to take advantage of the Mastodon pitchers, who issued 10 walks.

“I think to a certain extent we could have done a little bit better job there, but for the most part I think we did [well],” Aoki said. “We put up some quality at-bats, I think we hit some balls hard at people, like the double play that [freshman right fielder] Ryan Bull ran into while we were running on the play.”

Aoki said the four double plays turned by IPFW were mostly unavoidable.

“The first one was preventable – Conor [Biggio] shouldn’t have been running on that ball that Frank [DeSico] lined out to the third baseman,” Aoki said. “But the other ones, you just chalk it up to baseball. If we can start putting balls exactly where we want to off the bat then we’re pretty much undefeated at this point.”

The Irish will play their first Big East game of the season when they take on Pittsburgh at home at 5:35 p.m. Friday.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at vjacobse@nd.edu