Feb. 20, 2011
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Senior RHP Todd Miller tossed a career-high 6.1 innings and struck out a career-best six to help Notre Dame knock off Penn State, 8-5, in its third and final game from the 2011 BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge at the Walter Fuller Baseball Complex Sunday morning. After dropping their season opener to Michigan State (2-1), the Irish closed the weekend with back-to-back victories over Purdue and Penn State.
Miller, who missed just over seven weeks last season with a shoulder injury, improved to 1-0 on the year. The right-handed hurler scattered seven hits and allowed three earned runs in his first start of 2011. Miller did not issue a walk alongside his six strikeouts. He tossed 93 pitches, 68 for strikes.
Freshman LHP Anthony McIver and junior RHP Will Hudgins came out of the bullpen and slammed the door shut. McIver tossed 1.2 scoreless innings of relief with three strikeouts and Hudgins needed just 10 pitches to strikeout the side in the ninth. He picked up his first save of the season and fourth of his career.
Freshman 1B Trey Mancini paced Notre Dame at the plate. The rookie went 3-for-5 with a couple runs scored and two RBI, including a solo home run - the first of his career. Mancini added a double and finished just a double shy of the cycle. Sophomore 2B Frank DeSico was the only other Irish player with a multi-hit effort. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Freshman LF Eric Jagielo scored two runs, while senior RF Herman Petzold reached base three times and chipped in a run scored and RBI.
Penn State, just as Michigan State and Purdue on Friday and Saturday, grabbed the first lead of the game. The Nittany Lions used a leadoff triple from Sean Deegan. After Miller picked up his first strikeout of the season, Jordan Steranka followed with an RBI single through the right side to give Penn State a 1-0 lead. Steranka moved into scoring position following Miller's wild pitch, but the righty retired the final two batters of the inning to keep the deficit one run.
Miller settled into a nice groove over the second and third innings. He sent down eight consecutive Penn State batters and allowed the Irish offense to grab the lead.
Notre Dame took advantage of a pair of Nittany Lions errors in a five-run third inning. Senior DH David Casey led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second base following junior CF Alex Robinson's sacrifice bunt. Senior SS Mick Doyle followed with a routine fly ball to centerfield, but Deegan, the Penn State centerfielder, dropped the ball, which not only allowed Casey to score, but Doyle raced all the way to third base. Petzold followed with another routine fly ball to center that Deegan lost in the sun for a double, which gave the Irish a 2-1 lead. Jagielo then reached base on an error, which allowed another run to score. After sophomore C Joe Hudson lined out, Mancini tripled in a run to give the Irish a 4-1 lead and DeSico made it 5-1 with an RBI single.
Penn State clawed back with a pair of unearned runs in the top of the fourth inning to cut the Irish lead to 5-3, but Miller was able to evade any significant damage. He then retired the Nittany Lions in order in the fifth and sixth innings before maybe running out of gas in the seventh.
With Notre Dame holding a 7-3 advantage, Penn State drew within two runs, 7-5, after seventh inning doubles from Ryan Clark and Deegan, but McIver got the final two outs of the inning and cruised in the eighth inning.
Hudgins was almost perfect in the ninth inning. The sidewinder struck out the side on just 10 pitches. Hudgins nearly tossed an immaculate inning - an inning with three strikeouts on nine pitches.
Notre Dame returns to action next weekend with a three-game series in the Great Northwest against Seattle University. The Irish and Redhawks open the weekend set at 6:00 p.m. PT on Friday, Feb. 25 at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett, Wash. The final two games of the series will be played at Bannerwood Park in Bellevue, Wash.