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Baseball: Irish drop two of three

Chris Khorey and Deirdre Krasula | Monday, March 26, 2007

Notre Dame dropped two of three games to South Florida over the weekend at Frank Eck Stadium in its opening Big East series.

The games were the first outside of Florida for the Bulls (18-8, 4-2 Big East), who looked cold in a 1-0 loss in the rain Friday, but heated up once the weather got warmer to earn a 13-10 win Saturday and a 9-1 decision Sunday over the Irish (11-11, 1-2).

Notre Dame 1, South Florida 0

Sophomore David Phelps pitched a complete game shutout and first baseman Mike Dury hit a home run as Notre Dame won its Big East opener.

Phelps scattered three hits, struck out 10 and allowed just six Bulls base runners to earn the win and improve his record to 4-1.

“David pitched exactly how we scripted it and hit his spots,” Irish head coach Dave Schrage said.

The outing was Phelps’ first career complete game.

“It’s a little surreal,” he said.

South Florida starter Danny Otero gave up just one run on seven hits in seven and two-thirds innings, but took the loss and fell to 4-4.

The Irish threatened in the first, putting shortstop Brett Lilley on third and third baseman A. J. Pollock on first with nobody out. But centerfielder Danny Dressman hit a tailor-made double-play ball to third. After the Bulls got the out at second, second baseman Dexter Butler threw the ball home, catching Lilley for the second out of the inning.

Dressman, thinking the inning was over, jogged off first base and was tagged out to retire the side.

The next inning, Notre Dame didn’t bother with base running, as first baseman Mike Dury blasted his fifth home run of the season over the right field fence to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.

South Florida threatened to the tie the game in the ninth, getting a single from shortstop Walter Diaz to open the inning. After a strikeout, a blooper by third baseman Addison Maruszak would have scored Diaz, but the ball landed just foul.

“We were playing at home,” Schrage said. “It was the luck of the Irish.”

Instead, Phelps struck out Maruszak and Butler looking to end the game. Notre Dame’s last 1-0 win came against BYU with J.P. Gagne on the hill in 2002.

South Florida 13, Notre Dame 10

South Florida capitalized off Notre Dame’s mistakes Saturday, and there were a lot of them.

The Irish gave up eight walks, two hit batsmen, four passed balls and three errors in their 13-10 loss to the Bulls.

Notre Dame’s starting pitcher, junior left-hander Wade Korpi, left the mound in the top of the sixth with a 5-2 lead and two runners on base. Two Irish pitchers would come to the mound – junior Joey Williamson and senior Jess Stewart – and allow a combined five runs off four hits in the rest of the sixth inning.

“The bullpen has done a good job all year,” Schrage said. “[Stewart and Williamson] have been solid for us all season and today they weren’t. I would do that again and those guys have pitched well for us all year, and we thought they’d come in a do a good job, but they didn’t.”

Notre Dame took the 5-2 lead in the bottom of the second. Jeremy Barnes started off a four-run burst for the Irish with an RBI down the third-base line.

The Bulls shut out the Irish in the bottom of the sixth before taking to their bats again. Stewart allowed two more runs in the seventh before Notre Dame brought in freshman left-hander David Mills from the bullpen. Mills walked the only three batters he faced, allowing two runs to score before junior right-hander Tony Langford took the mound. Langford allowed one more run to close out the inning.

Langford gave the Irish a fighting chance when he allowed no runs in the top of the eighth. With a 13-6 deficit, Notre Dame scored four in the bottom of the eighth.

The Bulls brought in freshman right-hander Shawn Sanford to close out the rest of the inning. Sanford allowed one run off an error before finishing the inning. Those four runs would be the end of the offensive charge for the Irish. Both Southern Florida and Notre Dame posted scoreless ninths to leave the final score at 13-10.

Notre Dame struggled defensively the entire game and despite making strong drives in the second and eighth, it was not able to rally.

“It’s tough to shut any team down when you give them that many free bases,” Schrage said. “I was proud of how our kids bounced back with the bats and kept battling, but we just gave up way too many runs.”

South Florida 9, Notre Dame 1

Notre Dame left 14 runners on base and fell 9-1 to South Florida Sunday.

The Irish banged out 13 hits, but only mustered one run. In contrast, South Florida needed just nine hits to knock in its nine runs.

Notre Dame got a hit in every inning and put at least two runners on base from the third through the eighth frames, but couldn’t drive any of them in. The only Irish run came on a lead-off home run by shortstop Brett Lilley in the first.

“It was one of the most frustrating games I’ve experienced,” Schrage said. “People were getting hits with no one on base, but then they’d come up with a chance to knock some in, and they wouldn’t do it.”

The best chance to score for the Irish came in the third, when Lilley and Pollock got back-to-back hits. With two outs, a line drive by Dury seemed about to score them, but Maruszak leaped to his left and made a diving catch to retire the side.

The Bulls put two runs on the board in the first without getting a hit. Shortstop Walter Diaz walked, advanced to second on an error by Pollock, took third on a sacrifice by leftfielder Ty Taborelli and scored on a wild pitch. Maruszak, who reached on the error, scored one batter later on a ground out to third by Butler.

Notre Dame responded in the bottom of the inning with Lilley’s home run, but would not score again.

After five scoreless innings, the Bulls got four more runs in the top of the eighth, loading the bases with one out and scoring when Notre Dame reliever Kyle Weiland walked Butler to force in a run and another run on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Brandin Daniel. The next batter, designated hitter Nick Cardieri, knocked in two more with a double.

South Florida scored three more in the ninth, with Maruszak knocking in right fielder Josh LeRoy, Taborelli scoring Diaz with a sacrifice fly, and Butler getting an RBI single to drive in Maruszak.

All in all, the Notre Dame bullpen of Weiland, sophomore Brett Graffy and freshman Eric Maust allowed seven runs on five hits in four innings relieving Kapala.

“Every time we made a move to the bullpen, nobody did the job,” Schrage said. “That’s frustrating because that was one of our strengths coming into this weekend.”

Bulls junior Chris Delaney allowed just one run in 6.1 innings to earn the win and improve to 5-0 this season. Freshman Shawn Sanford recorded his fifth save of the season. Kapala took the loss to fall to 0-2.