March 24, 2009
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NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame racked up a season-high 20 hits and rallied from a 6-3 deficit to fly past Central Michigan, 14-8, in college baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Tuesday night. The Irish improved to 14-7 overall, while the Chippewas dropped to 9-13.
Junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) led the offensive barrage for Notre Dame. The centerfielder went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, three RBI and his third home run of the season. Pollock also chipped in two stolen bases.
Freshman Ryan Richter (South Bend, Ind.) picked up the victory in relief for the Irish. The southpaw, who improved to 2-0 on the year, tossed 3.0 scoreless innings and limited Central Michigan to just a pair of hits. He struck out four and walked two.
Sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.), junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) and sophomore Greg Sherry all registered three hits. Tate stole a base and scored two runs, while Mills scored three runs and drove in one and Sherry scored a run and drove in three.
The 20 hits were not only a season-high, but tied for the third most in the Dave Schrage era.
Trailing 7-4, Notre Dame plated two in the sixth, three in the seventh and five more in the eighth to secure the victory.
Senior Sam Elam (Mesquite, Texas) tossed 3.0 effective innings of relief. The southpaw allowed just a pair of infield hits and one earned run, but struck out five and walked two. The outing was Elam's longest of the season and longest since going 4.1 innings on April 24, 2007 against Rutgers.
After missing out on a golden opportunity to regain the lead in the bottom of the sixth, Notre Dame did not miss its chance in the seventh. Mills led off the inning with an infield single and moved into scoring position on a throwing error. Pollock then hammered a 1-0 offering from Chippewas' relief pitcher Jesse Hernandez (0-2) deep over the left field wall for a two-run home run to give the Irish an 8-7 lead.
Hernandez was tagged with the defeat. The righty went 0.1 innings and surrendered two earned runs on four hits.
Notre Dame kept the attack alive. Junior Matt Grosso (Hebron, Conn.) followed with a pinch-hit single and moved up a base after senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) ripped a single. Sophomore David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) then added his own pinch-hit single, but Grosso was gunned down at the plate. After Sherry dropped a bloop single just inside the right field line to load the bases, sophomore Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) legged out a possible inning-ending double play ball to plate what appeared to be at the time, a huge insurance run to give the Irish a 9-7 lead.
The Irish jumped out of the gate with three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Tate opened the game with an infield single, Mills then walked and Pollock singled to load the bases with no outs. Sophomore Matt Scioscia (Westlake Village, Calif.) followed with a two-run single back up the middle to give Notre Dame a 2-0 lead. Barnes grounded into a double play to plate another run.
The 3-0 lead did not last long and it resembled the weekend series with Seton Hall.
The Pirates registered 19 runs, 16 RBI and a .440 batting average (22-for-50) with two outs over the three-game series. In fact, 15 of those runs and 13 of those two out RBI came over the last two games of the series. The Pirates also hit .486 (18-for-37) with two down in Saturday and Sunday's victories.
Just a couple days after Seton Hall took two-out magic to another level, Central Michigan did just the same in their half of the second inning. The Chippewas used a walk, error and three consecutive hits, all with two down, to grab a 6-3 lead. All six runs were also unearned after Sherry's error.
Freshman Dustin Ispas (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) did not factor in the decision. Working on a pitch count, the southpaw went just 2.0 innings and allowed six hits and six runs, none of which were earned. Ispas fanned three and walked one.
Notre Dame answered with a bit of its own two-out success in the bottom of the second. After freshman Tommy Chase (Cohasset, Mass.) reached base on a two-out hit batter, Tate and Mills followed with back-to-back singles to cut the Irish deficit to 6-4.
Central Michigan scratched across a solo tally off Elam in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI ground out from Goodmiller to push the lead back to three runs, 7-4.
Notre Dame fought back within a run plating two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Barnes opened the inning reaching base on an error and moved into scoring position when the throw rolled down the right field line. After junior Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.) popped out, Sherry ripped an RBI single back up the middle to make it 7-5. McConnell followed with an opposite field single to runners on first and second before Chase came through with his first career hit to plate Sherry and cut the Irish deficit to 7-6. Notre Dame had a golden opportunity to draw even, but Tate grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners.
Notre Dame returns to action tomorrow night against Oakland. First pitch at Frank Eck Stadium is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. Freshman left-handed hurler Steve Sabatino will take the mound for the Irish.
-- ND --