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Baseball: Irish fall 9-4 to Chippewas

Andrew Gastelum | Thursday, April 26, 2012

Notre Dame’s recent starting-pitching success came to a halt Wednesday afternoon as Central Michigan out-slugged the Irish 9-4 at Frank Eck Stadium.

Led by its strong starting rotation, Notre Dame (22-17) had won five of its last six coming into the midweek test against the Chippewas (18-24). But the Irish struggled on the mound on a cold and rainy night, as Notre Dame went through eight pitchers on the evening.

Freshman right-hander Matt Ternowchek started the game for the Irish, but only lasted 1 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on six hits. The freshman squandered an early two-run lead with a four-run second inning.

After the first two Chippewa hitters reached base in the second inning, redshirt freshman second baseman Pat MacKenzie tied the game on a two-RBI single up the middle. MacKenzie came into the game hitting in the ninth spot with only five RBIs on the season, but proved to be a key contributor to the Central Michigan victory with four RBIs.

Central Michigan junior shortstop Jordan Dean added to the Irish woes with three RBIs, highlighted by a two-RBI double in the second inning, which ended the day for Ternowchek, down 5-3.

“In a midweek game, you want to try to get a few guys in there anyways. Going into it we knew we were going to throw a lot of pitchers,” Irish coach Mik Aoki said. “We were hoping that Matty would give us three or four [innings] and turn it over to the pen. But I thought Matty didn’t pitch very well. His stuff was soft and he got behind in counts. He is usually a little better than that. He didn’t really have it and quite frankly the whole team didn’t have it.”

After Ternowchek gave up a run in the first inning, the Irish responded quickly with a three-run bottom half. Chippewa freshman right-hander Jordan Foley struggled early, throwing 10 consecutive balls and walking four in the first. But Foley, who was drafted by the Yankees in last year’s Major League Baseball Draft, settled down through his 109 pitches in 4 2/3 innings.

Notre Dame’s middle of the lineup didn’t do much to pressure the freshman, going a combined 2-for-7 with no RBIs. The Chippewas walked eight Irish batters, but Notre Dame was unable to capitalize with the extra baserunners.

“I think the whole thing changes in the first few innings if we get a timely hit, and we didn’t. And they did,” Aoki said. “They got their timely hits when they needed to and they converted guys that they bunted over. We had guys in scoring position that we couldn’t convert. It comes down to them playing better than we did.”

The Irish tried to stage a comeback, pulling within one in the fifth on an RBI-double by junior center fielder Charlie Markson. But Central Michigan added a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh on an RBI-walk by MacKenzie.

First pitch, which was originally scheduled for 5:35 p.m., was moved up to 4:35 p.m. in an attempt to avoid a pending thunderstorm. Rain began to fall hard in the third inning and lasted through the sixth as umpires elected to continue the game. But Aoki was quick to avoid blaming the weather for his team’s struggles.

“I would like to think we are a little tougher than that,” Aoki said. “But I think the bottom line is that we played poorly, they played better, they deserved to win and we deserved to lose.”

The Irish will try to bounce back Friday as they host St. John’s for a three-game series. 

Contact Andrew Gastelum at agastel1@nd.edu