Feb. 28, 2010
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Penn State right fielder Heath Johnson dropped freshman third baseman Adam Norton's fly ball with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning which allowed senior right fielder David Mills to score the winning run as Notre Dame salvaged its final game of the 2010 Big Ten/BIG EAST Baseball Challenge, 9-8, in 10 innings from the Naimoli Complex. The Irish improved to 4-2 on the season, while the Nittany Lions, playing their third straight extra-inning game, dropped to 2-1 on the campaign.
Mills laced a two-out double in the bottom of the 10th inning off of Penn State reliever John Walter. Walter then got Norton to hit a routine fly ball to right field, but the wind played havoc on the ball's flight and Johnson was not able to make the catch. Mills scored without a throw.
The error, the third of the game for the Nittany Lions, made a winner out of junior Todd Miller. The righty tossed 1.1 scoreless innings of relief and improved to 1-0 on the season. Miller struck out one and walked a pair.
Walter was charged with the loss and dropped to 0-1. He allowed one unearned run on one hit in 0.2 innings of work.
Notre Dame not only overcame a pair of three-run deficits (3-0 and 4-1) in the game, but also six errors and 14 runners left on base. The six errors were the most by an Irish squad since March 7, 2004 when they had six in a 17-9 loss to Texas-San Antonio. The Irish finished the weekend with 13 errors and 36 runners left on base - at least 10 in all three contests.
Senior first baseman and reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week went 4-for-5 with a run scored. Junior designated hitter Matt Scioscia went 2-for-3 with a run scored and two RBI. Norton went 2-for-6 with an RBI and senior left fielder Ryan Connolly went 2-for-4 with two stolen bases and three runs scored.
While the Irish pounded out 15 hits, the biggest might have come from senior pinch hitter Matt Grosso. After Penn State plated a pair of runs in the top of the seventh inning to tie the game, 7-7, Grosso stepped up with one out and belted a fast ball over the centerfield wall for a solo bomb to give Notre Dame an 8-7 advantage.
The Nittany Lions drew even, 8-8, in the top of the ninth inning following a solo home run from Heath, his second of the afternoon.
The Irish had a golden opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Notre Dame loaded the bases with one out, but Penn State reliever Steven Hill struck out senior Brayden Ashdown looking and then punched out Irish pinch hitter David Casey to end the inning.
Senior right-handed pitcher Eric Maust did not factor in the decision. He tossed 4.0 innings and allowed five runs, only three earned, in 4.0 innings of work. Sophomore southpaw Steve Sabatino also worked 4.0 innings and yielded two runs, only one earned, on two hits. He fanned four and walked three.
The Irish return to action next weekend at the Stetson Invitational to open their spring break trip. Notre Dame opens the tournament with a doubleheader against Harvard at 11:00 a.m. and Kansas State at 3:00 p.m. The Irish close the weekend against the host Hatters on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.
-- ND --