Feb. 18, 2011
DUNEDIN, Fla. - Notre Dame got solid pitching from senior starting RHP Brian Dupra and the freshmen reliever tandem of LHP Anthony McIver and RHP Dan Slania, but the Irish were unable to take advantage of a trio of golden scoring opportunities en route to a 2-1 season-opening loss to Michigan State Friday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Park. The game marked the debut of first-year Notre Dame coach Mik Aoki.
Michigan State (1-0) opened the scoring in the top of the third inning off Dupra. Torsten Boss laced a one-out triple into the right centerfield gap and cruised home on Ryan Jones' RBI single with the Irish infield drawn in to try and cut off the run.
The Irish (0-1) drew even, 1-1, in the bottom of the fourth inning. Senior 3B Greg Sherry singled with two outs to put runners on first and second. Sophomore 2B Frank DeSico followed with an RBI single to tie the game. An error allowed Sherry to advance to third and DeSico to second, but sophomore CF Charlie Markson struck out to end the threat.
After the Spartans grabbed a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning, Sherry singled and DeSico followed with a perfect sacrifice bunt in the bottom half of the inning, but senior pinch hitter Matt Grosso flied out and senior shortstop Mick Doyle grounded out to end the inning.
The Irish had another great scoring chance in both the eighth and ninth inning. Sophomore C Joe Hudson's two-out double went for naught in the eighth. In the ninth, DeSico laced a one-out single and moved into scoring position following a balk. With junior CF Alex Robinson at the plate, DeSico took off on a steal attempt. Robinson laced a ball to centerfield, but DeSico never stopped running and was tagged up at second base to end the game.
Notre Dame also stranded the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning. In all, the Irish left eight on the base paths, including seven in scoring position.
Dupra did his part, but was charged with the loss and dropped to 0-1 on the season. The senior allowed two earned runs on seven hits in 7.0 innings of work. He fanned five and did not issue a walk. In fact, 72 of his 92 pitches on the day were strikes.
McIver and Slania worked out of a jam in the top of the eighth inning to give the Irish a chance in the late innings. McIver surrendered a single and double to the first two batters he faced, but rebounded with a ground out and strikeout. Slania replaced McIver and induced a fly out to end the inning.
Slania tossed a perfect ninth inning. He needed just 11 pitches, 10 of which were for strikes, in his 1.1 innings of scoreless and hitless relief.
Sherry and DeSico paced the Notre Dame offense. Sherry went 3-for-4, while DeSico went 2-for-2 with an RBI and two sacrifice bunts.
Notre Dame returns to action at 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon against in state rival Purdue. Senior RHP Cole Johnson will take the mound for the Irish.