Feb. 26, 2010
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Illinois broke open a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fifth inning with six runs, three of which were unearned, and cruised to an 11-1 victory over Notre Dame Friday night in first day action from the 2010 Big Ten/BIG EAST Baseball Challenge. The Irish were victimized by four errors that allowed four unearned runs and six walks on the night.
Notre Dame drops to 3-1 on the season, while the Fighting Illini improves to 1-0.
Junior Cole Johnson was charged with the loss and drops to 1-1 on the season. He allowed four runs, all earned, on four hits and four walks. He did register four strikeouts.
Will Strack earned the victory with 6.0 solid innings. The right-handed hurler allowed just one earned run on five hits. Strack struck out six and did not walk a batter. Mike Sterk was credited with the save. He tossed 3.0 scoreless innings and surrendered three hits.
Notre Dame jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Senior Brayden Ashdown laced a one-out single to right field. After senior Casey Martin popped out, junior Cameron McConnell followed with a single and freshman Adam Norton ripped an RBI single just inside the third base bag to plate Ashdown.
Johnson did not have his best stuff, but still managed to keep the Illini off the scoreboard over the first three innings. The junior worked around four walks thanks to a double play and two strikeouts. Johnson forced Illinois to strand six base runners entering the fourth inning.
Illinois finally solved Johnson in the bottom of the fourth inning. Pete Cappetta led off the frame with a double and Brandon Hohl followed with a single to right field. Norton then mishandled senior David Mills' relay throw from the outfield for an error, which allowed Cappetta to scamper home from third base. Craig Lutes executed a perfect bunt single to put runners on the corners with no outs, but Johnson evaded any further damage. He punched out Josh Parr for the first out of the inning. Johnson then fanned Willie Argo, who led Illinois with 12 home runs last season as a freshman, and McConnell followed with a perfect strike to nail Lutes trying to steal for an inning ending double play.
Illinois opened the fifth with consecutive base hits, including an infield single, and Casey McMurray gave the Illini a 2-1 lead with a single back up the middle to end the day for Johnson. Sophomore Ryan Richter came on to replace Johnson and did not fare much better. The southpaw allowed a pair of hits and three unearned runs, including one on his own error, in just 0.1 inning of work. Senior Billy Boockford did get the final two outs of the fifth inning, but not before Illinois sent 10 to the plate and scored six runs, three of which were unearned.
The Illini benefitted from two more errors in the bottom of the sixth inning to plate two more runs to extend their lead to 9-1.
Boockford tossed 1.2 innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on a pair of hits. He struck out two and walked one. Junior Todd Miller also allowed an earned run in 1.0 inning of work, but struck out the side.
Norton made his pitching debut for Notre Dame and fanned the first two Ilinois batters he faced. Norton did allow an earned run on three hits in 1.0 inning of work.
Senior Ryne Intlekofer and McConnell were the only two Irish players with more than one hit. Intlekofer went 2-for-5 and McConnell went 2-for-3.
The Irish return to action tomorrow afternoon with their second game from the 2010 Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge. Notre Dame faces Ohio State at Bright House Networks Field. First pitch is slated for 4:00 p.m. Junior Brian Dupra will get the starting nod for the Irish.