March 30, 2012
TAMPA - Freshman Conor Biggio (Houston, Texas/St. Thomas H.S.) delivered a two-run single to break a 3-3 tie and Notre Dame added three more insurance runs in the top of the 10th inning to race past USF, 8-3, in a battle of BIG EAST unbeatens Friday night at USF Baseball Stadium. The Irish improved to 16-8 overall and 4-0 in the league, while the Bulls drop to 18-9 and 3-1. Notre Dame is 4-0 in conference action for the first time since 2004.
Sophomore RHP Dan Slania (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic H.S.) picked up the victory and improved to 3-0 on the season. He tossed 2.1 scoreless innings of relief and struck out three.
Ray Delphey was charged with the loss. He allowed five runs, all earned, on four hits in 1.1 innings. Delphey dropped to 0-1 on the season. The runs were the first allowed by the USF reliever all season (his scoreless streak reached 12.0 innings pitched before the Irish outbreak).
After the Bulls plated two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the score, 3-3, Notre Dame's offense (which had just three hits entering frame) awoke. Freshman PH Blaize Lezynski (Newtown, Pa./Notre Dame H.S. [NJ]) and senior RF Alex Robinson (Dallas, Texas/First Baptist Academy) started the outburst with back-to-back singles.
Junior CF Charlie Markson (Whitefish Bay, Wisc./Whitefish Bay H.S.) - likely bunting - was drilled with an offering from Delphey to load the bases with no outs for Biggio. The rookie pulled a 2-2 pitch through the right side of the infield to give the Irish a 5-3 lead. Fellow freshman Ryan Bull (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie H.S.) followed with an RBI single to push the Notre Dame advantage to 6-3.
After junior 2B Frank DeSico (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius H.S.) was robbed of a base hit and junior 3B Eric Jagielo (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove North H.S.) walked, sophomore 1B Trey Mancini (Winter Haven, Fla./Winter Haven H.S.) singled and junior C Joe Hudson (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Jesuit H.S.) collected a sacrifice fly to close the scoring, 8-3.
The five-run cushion was more than enough for Slania, who picked up a pair of punchouts in the bottom of the 10th inning.
DeSico and Robinson were the only Notre Dame players with more than one hit. DeSico went 2-for-5 with a run scored, while Robinson went 2-for-4 with a run scored and clutch two-run double that gave the Irish a 3-1 lead in the three-run seventh inning.
DeSico opened the seventh with a single, just Notre Dame's second hit off USF starter Andrew Barbosa. Jagielo was plunked on the next pitch, but Barbosa got Mancini to ground into a 4-6-3 double play on the first pitch of the at bat. After hitting Hudson and walking senior DH Tommy Chase (Cohasset, Mass./Boston College H.S.), Robinson followed with a two-run double down the left field line. The ball evaded the Bulls left fielder Alex Mendez, which allowed Chase to score as well.
Senior RHP Will Hudgins (Richmond, Va./Douglass Freeman H.S.) did not factor into the decision, but pitched great once again. He picked up his fifth quality start in as many outings. Hudgins limited the Bulls to three runs, all earned, (two scoring after he left the contest) on nine hits. He struck out four and walked one.
With the Irish now leading 3-1, Hudgins stayed on the bump and quickly retired USF 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh, but was removed with runners on first and second (a hit batsmen and single) and one out in the bottom of the eighth.
The game then became a matchup between the Irish bullpen and Bulls' bench. Senior LHP Ryan Richter (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph's H.S.) came on and got a fly out for the second out of the inning. Senior LHP Joe Spano (Verona, N.J./Seton Hall Prep) then relieved Richter and faced USF pinch hitter Chris Norton.
Spano appeared to strikeout Norton on a breaking ball that did just that right over the heart of the plate, but was called a ball. Spano ultimately issued a walk. With the bases loaded, the Irish went to the bullpen again. Freshman Cristian Torres (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./Palos Verdes Peninsula H.S.) entered the game to face another USF pinch hitter in Buddy Putnam, who lined a two-run single to right field to tie the game, 3-3.
Slania, Notre Dame's fifth pitcher of the inning, issued a walk to once again load the bases, but got Chad Taylor to line out to center field. Markson made a great, sliding catch to end the threat.
After Hudgins cruised through the first inning in order, Daniel Rockhold belted Hudgins' first offering of the at bat well over the left field wall for a solo home run to give the Bulls a 1-0 lead. The run was the first earned run allowed by Hudgins in 25.2 innings of work. He issued a one-out walk two batters later, which was his first free pass in 25.2 innings as well. After a single, Hudgins limited the damage to just Rockhold's homer following a ground out and fly out.
Meanwhile, Barbosa lived up to his billing as one of the top pitcher's in the BIG EAST. DeSico singled in the top of the first and promptly swiped second. After scampering to third on a wild pitch, Barbosa got back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.
The 6-foot-8 southpaw struck out the side in each of the first two innings, again in the fifth, and registered two more in the third and fourth. In all, Barbosa fanned 13 of the first 16 Irish batters.
Barbosa retired 16 consecutive Notre Dame hitters until Bull reached on an error with two outs in the top of the sixth inning, but the senior picked off the Irish rookie to end the inning.
Barbosa also earned a no-decision, but was dominant. He struck out a career-best 14 and allowed just three runs, two earned, on three hits in 6.2 innings. Barbosa has now fanned 27 over his last two starts.
Notre Dame returns to the diamond for the second game of the series with USF at 6:00 p.m. ET on Saturday. 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.