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Baseball: Happy at new position, Brezovsky leads team to win

Deirdre Krasula | Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The transition from infield to outfield hasn’t fazed Ross Brezovsky.

The junior, who had played mainly at second base until this season, has made the transition to left field almost seamlessly, and it’s been a boost in the Irish lineup – as evidenced by Notre Dame’s 7-3 win over Ball State Tuesday.

“I just wanted to be in the lineup everyday, so I don’t really care where I play as long as I’m on the field,” Brezovsky said. “It’s been fun. It’s been a challenge getting to know how to play everything, where to play and when to dive, when not to dive, but it’s been fun and I’m having fun out there.”

Brezovsky opened up scoring for the Irish in the win Tuesday night. After Cardinals starting pitcher Jay Broughton retired from the mound in the middle of the third, leaving three on base, Brezovsky faced Adam Quinn.

Quinn, fresh from the bullpen, looked to finish off Brezovsky, but the Irish outfielder drove in a two-RBI single to put Notre Dame on the board. Austin Pearce and shortstop Brett Lilley scored off Brezovsky’s drive. Lilley, who reached base after being hit by a pitch, he is now second in the nation in hits by pitches.

At 6-foot-9, Quinn posed a threat to the Notre Dame offense, but the Irish bats continued to bring heat in the third. First baseman Mike Dury drove in a three-run homer to extend Notre Dame’s lead to 5-0.

“He threw one at my chest level and I just put a good swing on it and I got it pretty good,” Dury said of the hit.

Even though both Brezovsky and Dury turned in solid hits at the plate, Dury said they were up against a formidable bullpen.

“Coach wants us to be selective and not get ourselves out,” Dury said. “But these guys are college pitchers – they’re there for a reason, they’re gonna throw strikes.”

Starting pitcher Sam Elam turned in a strong 4.1 innings from the mound before Tony Langford took over in the middle of the fifth. Schrage said the coaching staff wanted to save Elam for this weekend’s road series against Rutgers, and so Elam came out near the 70-pitch mark. Elam walked two runners in the fifth, allowing both to advance to second and third base, respectively.

Elam hit the next batter and then walked in a run, letting Zach Dygert score.

Langford, who missed all of 2006 with an elbow injury, took the mound with the bases loaded but was able to deliver two strikeouts to end the inning and protect the Irish lead.

The fifth inning brought success again for the Irish offense. Second baseman Jeremy Barnes drove in an RBI for the Irish, and catcher Ryan Smith grounded out to shortstop to send Dressman home.

That was the end of the offensive drive for Notre Dame. Ball State cycled through a total of seven pitchers in the nine innings, which made it difficult for the Irish to get a handle on their bats.

“It’s difficult to hit and get into a rhythm and all,” Schrage said. “It’s tough on your hitters when you’re facing a new guy every time you go up there.”

Dury took the mound for the Irish in the eighth with a career ERA of 1.92. Dury, Notre Dame’s starting first baseman, hasn’t seen action from the mound in more than two weeks. He allowed two runs off three hits before ending the inning.

Dury said he hoped to find more consistency in his pitching and become a stronger all around player for his teammates.

“I haven’t been out there in two weeks or so and it was just frustrating,” he said. “I made a couple of bad pitches, walked a guy, [it was] just not how I usually throw and it’s frustrating. I’ll get back to work with coach [Sherard] Klink[scales] and iron some things out, ’cause I want to be one of those guys to come in in that situation, so I just gotta keep proving myself when I get out there.”

Even with a few mistakes, Dury continues to be a force for the Irish at first base and on the pitcher’s mound.

Dury and Notre Dame next face Valparaiso tonight at 6:05 at Frank Eck Stadium.