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Baseball: Bats power fifth-straight win

John Sandberg | Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Notre Dame took to the road Monday night and continued its winning streak with another solid offensive performance, defeating Central Michigan 7-3.

The Irish (27-16, 7-8 Big East) have now won five straight games and eight of their last nine.

“We all understand how important it is that we keep moving forward and keep playing well,” Notre Dame coach Mik Aoki said. “Coming down to the tail end of the year, every game is critically important for us.”

The Notre Dame offense jumped on Central Michigan starter Jimmy McNamara early. Junior first baseman Trey Mancini opened the second inning with a double off the left field wall and was driven in two batters later on a triple by sophomore designated hitter Phil Mosey. Freshman shortstop Lane Richards brought in Mosey with an RBI of his own, and after two innings, the Irish led 2-0.

In the third inning, the Irish offense kept rolling. Mancini and sophomore outfielder Ryan Bull hit back-to-back RBI singles, and an error on Bull’s hit allowed another Notre Dame run to score, making it 5-0. After McNamara left the game with two outs in the third, Mosey came to the plate and ripped an RBI double, making the score 6-0 after three innings.

Junior right-hander Sean Fitzgerald started and earned the win for Notre Dame, his third of the season. Fitzgerald held the Chippewas to one run over three innings pitched.

“[Fitzgerald] looked a lot better today,” Aoki said. “He had his slider going and he pitched well for us.”

After scoring one run in the third, the Chippewas (19-23, 8-10 MAC) kept things close by scoring runs in the fifth and sixth innings off junior reliever Donnie Hissa, making the game 6-3. Freshman right-hander David Hearne took over for Hissa in the sixth and worked his way out of a jam to end the Central Michigan rally.

Senior outfielder Charlie Markson gave Notre Dame an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning to make the score 7-3 before junior closer Dan Slania shut things down in the bottom half to secure the Irish victory.

“I thought we swung the bats well, in particular early,” Aoki said. “I thought overall it was a good effort from us.”

Nobody in the Notre Dame lineup, or the country for that matter, has been hotter than Mancini, who recorded his seventh straight multi-hit game against Central Michigan.

Mancini, who was 3-for-4 Tuesday, was named Big East Player of the Week and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Hitter of the Week on Monday after his weekend performance against Connecticut.

Notre Dame returns to action tonight at home against Eastern Michigan. The original matchup between the Irish and Eagles (20-21, 9-9 MAC) was postponed due to inclement weather on April 10.

Eastern Michigan lost two of three against Central Michigan last weekend. Its lineup is led by junior outfielder Sam Ott, whose .352 batting average and 37 RBIs are tops among Eagles hitters.

Sophomore right-hander Matt Ternowchek will start for Notre Dame today. Ternowchek is 4-3 with a 5.03 ERA.

Tonight’s game is Notre Dame’s fifth in sixth days. Aoki stressed the importance of his team continuing to play well despite the demanding schedule.

“We’re down a little bit on pitching right now,” Aoki said. “We need Matt Ternowchek to go out there and pitch well. We’ll sort of piece together the [bullpen] and then go from there … It’s important for us to come out and play at a high level to help keep us moving forward.”

First pitch between the Irish and Eagles is scheduled for 5:35 p.m. at Frank Eck Stadium.

Contact John Sandberg at jsandbe1@nd.edu