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Baseball: Bats come alive in home win

Jared Jedick | Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Irish awoke from their long winter’s slumber against Ball State Tuesday with a breakout performance on offense, racking up 12 hits and in an 11-5 victory.

“Part of it was hustling on and off the field, and part was being more aggressive on the bases early in the game and try to take the game to somebody rather than have them take it to us,” Irish coach Dave Schrage said.

Notre Dame (8-11) was finally able to drive the ball rather than pop it up into the air, which Schrage said was key to their offensive performance.

“I think our guys were a little bit more confident today,” Schrage said. “We hit a lot less fly balls today than we did all season.”

The win comes on the heels of a disappointing weekend against Michigan State (12-4), when the Irish dropped all three contests, 13-0, 7-4 and 3-0.

“I was really disappointed in how we played over the weekend [against Michigan State], in fact I was embarrassed at how we played over the weekend,” Schrage said. “There is one thing I know, and that is how to work hard and hustle and that is what I want our team to do.”

Getting the starting nod for Notre Dame was junior right-hander Ryan Sharpley, who was on a strict pitch count and lasted only 2 2/3 innings. Sharpley only allowed three hits and two earned runs with two strikeouts and five walks.

“Sharpley is a guy that we are trying to work in slowly. I thought his first two innings were good and that he got tired in the third,” Schrage said.

Sharpley is rehabilitating from a labrum injury that sidelined him for the entire 2009 season.
Ball State (6-14) started with senior right-hander Brad Piatt, but he only lasted one inning after giving up two earned runs and two hits with two walks.

The real damage for the Irish came in the second inning when Cardinals freshman right-hander Michael Sandman entered the game in relief. Notre Dame quickly dropped six runs  in a third of an inning, starting with an inning-opening triple from catcher Cameron McConnell. McConnell was 1 for 3 with an RBI on the night.

“[Senior infielder David] Mills and [senior centerfielder Ryne] Intlekofer set the tone right off the bat, and to go up by 8-0 after two innings, we have not done that all season, so I was happy about how we came out,” Schrage said.

After earning the 8-0 lead, the life seemed to fall out of the Cardinals, as the closest they got the game was 11-5, which would be the final.

Sophomore left-hander Ryan Richter took over for Sharpley and pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief to keep the game out of reach for Ball State. Richter gave up three earned runs on six hits.

Senior right-hander Billy Boockford cleaned up the last two innings of the game without giving up a hit or a run.

The Irish next take the field this afternoon at 5:05 p.m. at Eck Stadium against Illinois-Chicago.