March 8, 2009
HOUSTON - Notre Dame junior starting pitcher Eric Maust allowed just two earned runs on four hits in 7.0 innings to lead the Irish past Washington State, 7-3, in final day action from the 2009 Academy Sports + Outdoors Rice Classic Sunday afternoon. With the victory, Notre Dame improved to 5-4 and took two of its three games over the weekend. The Cougars, which dropped a pair of 2-1 decisions to No. 7 Rice and Oral Roberts the last two days, dropped to 3-8 on the season.
Maust (Alpharetta, Ga.) was sharp from the opening pitch. The right-handed hurler retired the first eight Washington State batters of the ball game before a two-out walk in the bottom of the third inning. Maust then surrendered a two strike, two out double to place a pair of runners in scoring position, but got Shea Vucinich to ground out to end the threat.
A day after the Irish managed just a pair of hits in a 9-0 loss to No. 7 Rice, Notre Dame wasted no time in grabbing an early lead. Sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) led off the game with a sharp single back up the middle and scored easily from first base on junior A.J. Pollock's (Hebron, Conn.) RBI double down the left field line.
The Irish increased their lead to 4-0 thanks to some spotty Cougars' defense in the top of the third inning. Junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) reached on a two-base error to open the inning and moved to third base on a wild pitch. Pollock followed with a RBI ground out to give Notre Dame a 2-0 advantage. Senior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) followed with a double that nearly carried out for his first home run of the season. Senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) then walked before sophomore David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) grounded into what appeared to be a taylor-made double play ball, but Washington State shortstop Vucinich booted the grounder. Sharpley scored on the play and Barnes then scored on a perfectly executed double steal one batter later.
Maust would make the four-run cushion stand. He retired 10 straight Cougars between the third and sixth inning. Washington State did managed to scratch across two runs in the sixth on Alex Burg's two-out, two-run triple to cut the Irish lead to 4-2.
Notre Dame answered with a run in the seventh and two more in the eighth to put the game away.
Maust improved to 1-0 on the year with his longest outing of the season. He walked three and struck out just one, but retired the leadoff batter in five of his seven innings. Maust lowered his season earned-run average to 3.63.
Pollock paced the Notre Dame attack. He went 2-for-4 with four RBI. Tate went 2-for-4 with a double and run scored, while sophomore Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) went 3-for-4 with a run scored.
The Irish return to action Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon with a two-game non-conference series against Grambling. First pitch for the series opener is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. CT.