CARY, N.C. -
The 22nd-ranked University of Notre Dame baseball team was looking for its seventh consecutive victory, but could not overcome five errors as Rhode Island upset the Irish, 4-3, Sunday at the 2013 USA Baseball-Irish Classic. Notre Dame dropped to 8-2 on the season, while the Rams improved to 2-9. All nine of Rhode Island's losses this season have come to top-25 foes, including Florida State (three), Ole Miss (three), Mississippi State (two) and Virginia Tech (one).
Rams' reliever Bobby Dean (1-0) made his first appearance of the season and blanked the Irish over 6.0 innings of relief. He limited Notre Dame to one base hit and fanned four, while walking one.
Notre Dame freshman RHP Nick McCarty (2-1) took the loss. After a 1-2-3 eighth inning, McCarty retired the first two Rhode Island batters in the ninth before a critical error extended the inning. He got a ground ball that appeared destined to end the frame, but McCarty missed the first base bag when covering the base. Rhode Island followed with consecutive singles to grab a 4-3 lead.
Dean sent down Notre Dame in order in the ninth inning.
The loss should not overshadow the weekend for the Irish, which included victories over Tennessee and No. 25 Virginia Tech, nor should it overshadow Sunday's outing by freshman RHP David Hearne.
Hearne logged a career-high 7.0 innings and limited Rhode Island to three runs, all earned, on six hits. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
Junior All-American candidate 3B Eric Jagielo went 2-for-2 with an RBI and run scored, while fellow junior All-American candidate 1B Trey Mancini went 2-for-4. Senior CF Charlie Markson and freshman RF Zak Kutsulis each added sacrifice flies.
After the Irish grabbed a 1-0 lead on Jagielo's RBI single in the first inning, Hearne ran into trouble in the top of the third. Rhode Island got a leadoff double from Connor Foreman, who scampered to third base when the ball scooted underneath the glove of Kutsulis in right field. The Rams tied the game 1-1 on Shane O'Connell's infield single.
Joe Landi followed with a perfect bunt single. However, after senior 2B Frank Desico fielded the base hit, his throw sailed past Hearne, who was covering first base and the errant throw rolled down the right field line. Both O'Connell and Landi moved into scoring position. Tim Caputo followed with a two-run single to center field to give the Rams a 3-1 lead.
Notre Dame, as it has all weekend, answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third inning. The Irish loaded the bases on a sophomore DH Ryan Bull double, Jagielo hit-by-pitch and Mancini single. Markson and Kutsulis followed with back-to-back sacrifice flies to tie the game, 3-3.
Rhode Island went to its bullpen and called on Dean. The right-handed hurler baffled the Irish the rest of the way.
Hearne settled down after the third-inning troubles and ultimately retired 13 of the last 14 Rams he faced, including each of the last nine.
The Irish return to action next weekend at the Jackie Robinson Classic. Notre Dame opens the tournament at 6 p.m. PT at UCLA.