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Baseball: Irish win four in California

John Sandberg | Tuesday, March 19, 2013

No. 15 Notre Dame wrapped up its spring break trip by beating Cal Poly 6-5 on Saturday, a win which gave the Irish the series victory and improved their season record to 12-5.

Notre Dame held a 5-1 lead heading into the fifth. After Cal Poly scored one run in the fifth to make it 5-2, Notre Dame sophomore left fielder Ryan Bull tripled in the sixth to bring in freshman center fielder Kyle Richardson and make it a 6-2 ballgame.

The Irish would need that run, as the Mustangs (15-4) put up three runs in the bottom of the sixth to make it a 6-5 game. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Matt Ternowchek stopped the bleeding in the sixth and earned the win in 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. Junior Dan Slania recorded his fifth save of the season.

On Friday, Notre Dame benefited from another outstanding pitching performance from senior Adam Norton in a 1-0 win. The right-hander threw 8.0 innings of scoreless baseball, allowing seven hits, striking out five and walking one. Norton is 5-0 on the season.

“Obviously when the defense is playing well you don’t have to worry about striking everybody out,” Norton said. “You can just throw to contact and let the defense take care of it.”

With a 0-0 score after eight innings, freshman shortstop Lane Richards led off the ninth with a double and moved to third on Richardson’s sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, senior second baseman Frank DeSico hit an RBI infield single that gave the Irish a 1-0 lead. Slania came in and shut down the Mustangs to secure the 1-0 Notre Dame victory.

In Thursday’s series opener, Notre Dame gained an early 3-1 lead. In the third, a Bull error allowed one run to score. Cal Poly third baseman Jimmy Allen then hit an RBI single to tie the game at three, and two batters later, designated Brian Mundell hit a three-run homer off junior Sean Fitzgerald to give the Mustangs a 6-3 lead.

Cal Poly starter Joey Wagman threw a complete game as the Mustangs went on to win 6-3.

Prior to the Cal Poly series, Notre Dame fell to UC Santa Barbara (11-8) on Tuesday by a score of 7-2. Freshman right-hander Nick McCarty started for the Irish, giving up four earned runs over 3.2 innings while walking four.

Bull and junior third baseman Eric Jagielo hit RBI singles in the sixth to make it a 6-2 game, but the Irish were unable to keep the momentum, losing by a final of 7-2.

“I think we were riding a little bit too high and getting a little bit too ahead of ourselves,” DeSico said. “Our pitching wasn’t there to start, which kind of paved the way for slow bats and just a lackluster effort.”

Notre Dame began spring break in Los Angeles on March 8 with the Dodgertown Classic.

In the opener against No. 11 UCLA (15-3), the Bruins jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Fitzgerald settled in and did not allow a run over his next five innings of work. Junior catcher Forrest Johnson hit an RBI single in the fifth inning to tie the game.

A pitcher’s duel continued and through nine innings the score remained 1-1. Notre Dame was unable to get a run on the board in the top half of the 10th, and in the bottom of the inning, UCLA sophomore Eric Filia’s RBI single gave the Bruins the 2-1 win.

McCarty took the loss for the Irish, giving up one earned run in 3.2 innings of relief.

The next day, Notre Dame and USC were knotted at one after seven innings before an eighth inning sacrifice fly from junior first baseman Trey Mancini gave the Irish a 2-1 lead. The Trojans (8-11) threatened in the ninth, but Slania shut the door and secured the Irish win.

Norton earned the win against the Trojans, throwing 7.0 innings and giving up one run on five hits.

In the finale of the Dodgertown Classic, Notre Dame relied on one of the most unlikely of heroes, sophomore infielder Kevin DeFilippis.

The Irish trailed No. 17 Oklahoma (17-4) by one going into the ninth inning, but a Mancini sacrifice fly in the ninth sent the game to extra innings.

In the 11th inning, DeFilippis ripped the first pitch he saw down the left field line for an RBI single, giving Notre Dame the 6-5 victory in 11 innings. It was DeFilippis’ first at bat of the season.

Notre Dame finished 4-3 over spring break, with three of their five opponents ranked in the top-25. Ranked No. 17 last week, the Irish moved up two spots to No. 15 in this week’s Baseball America top-25.

Notre Dame’s attention now turns to Friday, when the Irish open Big East play against Seton Hall in their home opener at Eck Stadium.

Contact John Sandberg at [email protected]