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Baseball: Mid-week blues

Mary Green | Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Coming into its matchup against Midwest rival Michigan, No. 18 Notre Dame hoped to get a win to rebound from its loss Sunday to Villanova.

However, the Irish (19-11, 4-5 Big East) could not climb back from an early deficit and fell 4-1 to the Wolverines (17-14, 4-2 Big Ten).

Despite the evening’s gusty conditions, the team got off to a solid start as freshman starting pitcher David Hearne retired the first six batters he faced, collecting three strikeouts through two innings. However, Michigan junior catcher Cole Martin got on base with a double in the top of the third inning, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored the game’s first run on a wild pitch with two outs.

After another Wolverines run in the fourth, junior right hander Donnie Hissa replaced Hearne and quickly gave up an RBI double to Michigan sophomore designated hitter Kevin White to bring the score to 3-0.
Notre Dame was not able to capitalize on early scoring opportunities, leaving four runners on base through four innings. The team scored its only run in the bottom of the sixth, after freshman right fielder Zak Kutsulis led off with a double and came home on a hard-hit single by junior third baseman Eric Jagielo.

The wackiest play of the evening came in the next inning on a bases-loaded hit from Michigan sophomore second baseman Eric Johnson to centerfield. It was not immediately clear if Notre Dame senior center fielder Charlie Markson made the diving catch, but he threw the ball in to try to get the Michigan runners on third and first out, resulting in what had the potential to be a rare triple play if Markson did grab the ball before it hit the grass.
After much deliberation, the umpires ruled that Markson did make the catch and force an out at first but the runners on second and third successfully tagged up to advance and score a fourth Michigan run, bringing the tally to 4-1 in favor of the Wolverines.

“All I was trying to do was catch the ball, and once I caught it, it was just chaos,” Markson said of the play. “That was one of the most chaotic plays I’ve ever been a part of in my 15 years of playing baseball.”

Though freshman right hander Nick McCarty pitched two solid innings of relief, the Irish could not climb back, stranding two more runners in the eighth inning and going quietly  in the ninth inning to end the game.

After a four-game win streak, Notre Dame now finds itself on the losing end of two straight, a trend it will try to turn around against Eastern Michigan today, who enters with a 14-16 record after taking two out of three in its latest series against Bowling Green.

Markson said it’s sometimes difficult to find the drive to play mid-week games without the buildup and excitement of a weekend series, something the team needs to correct starting with Notre Dame’s matchup with the Eagles.

“I think we need to take more pride in these mid-week games, and just figure out a way to win,” he said. “We’re on our home field, and we shouldn’t lose on our home field, and we just need to figure out how to become tougher and win these games, overcome a little bit of adversity because we’ve lost two in a row.”

The Irish will try to pick up a win against the Eagles tonight at Frank Eck Stadium, with first pitch coming from sophomore righthander Matt Ternowchek at 5:35 p.m.

Contact Mary Green at mgreen8@nd.edu.