March 25, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Junior C Joe Hudson (Odessa, Fla./Tampa Jesuit H.S.) knocked in three runs, freshman RF Ryan Bull (Eden Prairie, Min./Eden Prairie H.S.) drove in a pair and the Notre Dame bullpen hurled six effective innings as the Irish completed the sweep of BIG EAST foe Pittsburgh, 7-5, Sunday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium.
The Irish (15-7, 3-0) came out of the gate firing, scoring four runs in the first two innings. Senior co-captain and DH Tommy Chase (Cohasset, Mass./Boston College H.S.) opened the scoring in the first by drawing a bases-loaded, two out walk. Bull, who smashed a walk-off home run Friday night, followed with a single up the middle to plate junior 2B Frank DeSico (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius H.S.) and Hudson.
Pittsburgh (10-11, 0-3) responded with two runs of its own in the second inning off Irish sophomore RHP Sean Fitzgerald (McLean, Va./McLean H.S.). Elvin Soto had an RBI ground out and Evan Oswald had a two-out RBI double.
Junior CF Charlie Markson (Whitefish Bay, Wisc./Whitefish Bay H.S.) opened the bottom of the second with a triple to deep center and cruised home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of freshman LF Conor Biggio (Houston, Texas/St. Thomas H.S.).
Similar to yesterday after an initial barrage of scoring, both teams struggled mightily in the middle innings to sustain any type of offense.
Pittsburgh RHP starting pitcher Matt Wotherspoon was dominant from the second inning through the seventh. He retired 16 consecutive batters during the stretch and struck out eight, but ran into trouble in the eighth inning.
Wotherspoon surrendered a three-run double to Hudson with two outs. Fellow RHP Kevin Johnson, who got out of the inning without further damage, relieved him.
As for the Irish, head coach Mik Aoki went to his bullpen early and often, pulling Fitzgerald after just 3.0+ innings of work.
Aside from a lone Panther run in the sixth, the pen had tossed 5.0 solid innings heading into the ninth. Though freshman RHP Pat Connaughton (Arlington, Mass./St. John's Prep) allowed a two-run single off the bat of Pittsburgh's leading hitter Rick Devereaux, a four-run deficit proved to be too much for the Panthers to overcome.
Sophomore RHP Dan Slania (Tucson, AZ/Salpointe Catholic) came in for Connaughton and struck out Casey Roche to end the contest, picking up his sixth save of the season.
Connaugton (1-0) worked 2.2 innings to collect his first career victory. He surrendered a couple of hits and two runs, both unearned, but also struck out two.
Despite pitching marvelously at times, Wotherspoon (2-1) was credited with the loss, doomed by both his rough start and finish. He was tagged for seven runs, all earned, on five hits in 7.2 innings of work. He fanned eight and walked five.
Senior LHP Ryan Richter (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph's H.S.), sophomore RHP Donnie Hissa (Iron River, Wisc./Maple Northwestern H.S), senior LHP Joe Spano (Verona, N.J./Seton Hall Prep), freshman RHP Matt Ternowchek (Glenmoore, Pa./Downington East H.S.), Connaughton and Slania limited the Panthers to just one earned run on three hits. They combined for six punchouts and four walks.
DeSico was the only Irish player with more than one hit.
The win also gave the Irish its first sweep of the Panthers since 2006 and its first sweep to open conference play since 2008.
Notre Dame will resume play at 6:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday in Chicago, Ill., when they square off against the UIC Flames. In-game updates will be available on Twitter at @NDBaseball and Facebook at NDBaseball, and fans can listen to all the action locally on 103.1 FM and on the Internet at UND.com.