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Baseball: Panthers sweep ND at Pitt

Deirdre Krasula | Monday, April 2, 2007

Notre Dame headed to Pittsburgh Friday in hopes of correcting some of the problems it faced last weekend, but it failed to do so.

The Irish dropped both games in what was originally scheduled to be a three-game series – Sunday’s game was canceled due to inclement weather in Pittsburgh.

Irish sophomore David Phelps dropped only his second game of the season with a 4-2 loss Friday night, and Paul Nardozzi pitched a two-hit shutout for the Panthers in their 5-0 win over the Irish Saturday.

Pittsburgh 4, Notre Dame 2

Phelps, a righthander, received little help from the Notre Dame offense Friday as he suffered his second loss in seven starts. The sophomore gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in a total of six and two-thirds innings. The loss brought Phelps’ ERA to 1.58.

Designated hitter Morgan Kielty opened up the first inning for the Panthers with an RBI off of a groundout to first. Kielty shined at the plate again in the fifth with a double to drive in two additional runs – the inning saw Pittsburgh score three runs off three hits.

The sixth inning looked hopeful for Notre Dame as senior first baseman Mike Dury stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. With the tying run at bat, the senior struck out and missed the opportunity to bring the game to four apiece. Sophomore Eddy Mendiola cut the Panthers’ lead in half with a two-run double. Brayden Ashdown scored easily with Brett Lilley not far behind him, but A.J. Pollock could not make it in time and was tagged out by catcher Nick Mullins. Mendiola’s drive in the sixth was the end of offensive action for both teams.

Notre Dame looked to threaten again in the eighth as Ashdown drew a leadoff walk off lefthander Rob Brant. The Panthers brought in righthander Kyle Landis to face Pollock. Pollock had little trouble adjusting to the pitching change and drove a single up the middle. Landis shut down the Irish drive with a strikeout and popup to end the inning and maintain the 4-2 lead.

Notre Dame’s inability to capitalize on promising situations has been a recurring theme recently.

“As a team we need some more guys to step up in big situations and get that big hit or get the big strikeout,” Lilley said.

The Irish loss, he said, couldn’t be blamed on one particular play.

“We are going to win as a team, and we are going to lose as a team,” he said. “And we lost as a team.”

Pittsburgh 5, Notre Dame 0

Nardozzi, a righthander, pitched a two-hit shutout to protect Pittsburgh’s offensive drive in the middle four innings of Saturday’s game.

The matchup remained scoreless until Gary Bucuren opened up from the plate for the Panthers in the third. The third baseman drove in an RBI off a sacrifice fly off Irish lefthander Wade Korpi.

Korpi gave up another run in the fourth before retiring from the mound at the end of the inning. Junior Dan Williams, first at the plate for the Panthers, drove in a homerun to give Pittsburgh the 2-0 lead. Korpi allowed one run off two hits to end the inning.

Junior righthander Joey Williamson took the mound for the Irish in the fifth and allowed one run. Williamson struggled from the mound again in the sixth as he allowed two more runs off two hits to increase the Panther’s lead to 5-0. Williamson allowed no runs in the seventh or the eighth, but the Irish were not able to dig themselves out of the 5-0 hole.

Nardozzi turned in nine innings from the mound for Pittsburgh, allowing only two hits.

Despite losing both games to Pittsburgh this weekend, the Irish will look to build from their trials on the road. The two losses brought the team just below the 500-mark with a 12-14 record on the season (1-4 Big East.)

“Losing this weekend just makes each and every game from here on out that much more important, and we really have to start clicking as a team and start winning,” Lilley said.