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Baseball: Irish topple Manchester

Fran Tolan | Thursday, April 10, 2008

Notre Dame defeated Division 3 Manchester College 13-8 at Frank Eck Stadium Wednesday. The Irish plated runs in six of the eight innings in which they batted as sophomore centerfielder A.J. Pollock fell just a home run short of hitting for the cycle.

But the biggest story of the game was a hit batsman.

In the second inning, Irish shortstop Brett Lilley was plunked for the 93rd time in his career, a new NCAA Division 1 record.

“It feels pretty good. It is a record,” Lilley said. “A lotta people are like, ‘Oh my God, it’s the hit-by-pitch record.’ Well, I’ll take it.”

Lilley said he did not even know he was approaching the record until a teammate told him about it late last season. After that, though, Lilley said he was on a mission to reach uncharted territory.

“I said, ‘Okay, here we go. We’ll shoot for it,'” Lilley said. “I’ve never practiced getting hit … But when we’re playing, there are a lot of times I intentionally do get hit by a pitch.”

And the senior said all the bruises he has accumulated have not persuaded him to back off the plate any time soon.

“I’m shooting for 100,” he said.

Lilley cracked the record books amidst a two-out rally that broke the game open for the Irish. He reached base to put men on first and second for Ryne Intlekofer. The sophomore second baseman then laced a triple down the right field line to score two. Sophomore centerfielder A.J. Pollock followed with a triple of his own to stake the Irish to a 5-1 lead.

Irish freshman starting pitcher Ryan Sharpley surrendered a run the first inning to give Manchester a 1-0 edge. But Sharpley and freshman righty Evan Danieli held the Spartans scoreless for the next four innings as the Notre Dame offense built an 11-1 lead by the end of the fifth stanza.

“Our starters went out there and took care of business,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said.

Pollock went 3-for-3 with a single, double and triple before being pulled in the fifth inning for sophomore Bill Warrender. Lilley went 2-for-2 with a single and triple but was also taken out in the fifth.

Manchester chipped into the Irish lead with seven total runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings but enough damage had already been done to bury the Spartans.

“I’ll give Manchester credit,” Schrage said. “They had 10 hits … so I’ll give Manchester credit for hitting the ball well.”

After Manchester cut into the deficit, Notre Dame added a run in both the sixth and eighth innings on run-scoring sacrifice flies by junior first baseman Casey Martin.

Sharpley got the win for the Irish and senior righty Justin Gingerich closed out the victory in his Notre Dame debut. Gingerich gave up just one hit and struck out two in one inning of work.

“Justin Gingerich threw really well in the last inning,” Schrage said. “He executed his pitches really well. He’s been working really hard and he got rewarded today.”