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    Irish Baseball Drops Rubbergame of USF Series, 6-4

    FIGHTING IRISH Catcher Joe Hudson and RHP Pat Connaughton
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Catcher Joe Hudson and RHP Pat Connaughton
    FIGHTING IRISH

    April 1, 2012

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    TAMPA - USF used a five-run seventh inning en route to an 11-6 victory Saturday night and the Bulls nearly did the same on Sunday afternoon. USF broke open a 3-3 tie with three runs and held on for a 6-3 victory over Notre Dame in the rubber game of a BIG EAST series at USF Baseball Stadium.

    Notre Dame dropped to 16-10 overall and 4-2 in the BIG EAST, while USF improved to 20-9 and 5-1.

    Freshman RHP Pat Connaughton (Arlington, Mass./St. John's Prep) was charged with the loss. He allowed three runs, all earned, on three hits in 3.1 innings of work. Connaughton struck out three and walked two, both of which scored. He retired the first eight USF batters he faced before running into trouble in the Bulls' seventh.

    After Notre Dame tied the game, 3-3, on Bull's RBI ground out, the Irish had a great scoring chance thwarted in the top of the seventh. Junior CF Charlie Markson (Whitefish Bay, Wisc./Whitefish Bay H.S.) legged out an infield single and freshman SS Jason McMurray (West Des Moines, Iowa/Dowling Catholic H.S.) followed with what appeared to a destined single (with Markson also running on the play), but Teaf - the Bulls SS - made a spectacular diving catch in short left field to rob McMurray of a hit and threw back to force Markson for a double play.

    The momentum seemed to completely change after the play.

    Connaughton issued a one-out walk to Luis Llerena and Alex Mendez followed with a slicing double into left centerfield. With runners at second and third, Connaughton issued his second free pass of the inning and James Ramsey followed with a two-run, bloop single to shallow centerfield to give USF a 5-3 lead. After a fly out, Buddy Putnam made it 6-3 USF with an excuse-me single through the left side.

    Steven Leasure relieved Bulls' starter Derrick Stultz and retired the Irish 1-2-3 in the eighth. Junior C Joe Hudson (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Jesuit H.S.) belted a solo home run in the ninth off USF closer Ray Delphey to cut the Notre Dame deficit to 6-4, but Delphey retired the next three Irish hitters to pick up his third save of the season.

    Stultz picked up the victory and improved to 4-1 on the campaign. He scattered seven hits and three earned runs over 7.0 innings. Stultz fanned three and walked one.

    Hudson was the only Notre Dame player with more than one hit. He went 2-for-3 with his third round tripper and two runs scored. Sophomore 3B Eric Jagielo (Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove North H.S.) went 1-for-3 with an RBI single and walk, while senior RF Alex Robinson (Dallas, Texas/First Baptist Academy) added a sacrifice fly and freshman LF Ryan Bull (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie H.S.) collected an RBI ground out.

    Notre Dame jumped out to a 2-0 lead with single runs in second and third. Hudson opened the second with aninfield single and ultimately came around to score on Robinson's sacrifice fly. Freshman Conor Biggio (Houston, Texas/St. Thomas H.S.) reached on a one-outsingle, swiped second and coasted home on Jagielo's two-out RBI single.

    Sophomore RHP Sean Fitzgerald allowed a leadoff double to Mendez to open the game, but settled down and retired the next eight Bulls, including four by strikeout. However, the sophomore RHP did not fare well the second time through the USF batting order.

    The Bulls collected three consecutive two-out singles to cut the Irish lead to 2-1. Fitzgerald got out of the third, but would not survive the fourth. He allowed a leadoff single toPutnam and Todd Brazeal followed with a walk. After a sacrifice bunt moved both into scoring position, Kyle Teaf tied the game, 2-2, with an RBI single andLlerena gave the Bulls a 3-2 lead with an RBI ground out (which ended the day for Fitzgerald).

    Fitzgerald was touched up forthree runs, all earned, on six hits in 3.2 innings of work. He struck out four and walked one.

    Notre Dame returns to the diamond at 5:35 p.m. ET on Tuesday against Toledo at Frank Eck Stadium. In-game updates will be available on Twitter at @NDBaseball and Facebook at NDBaseball, andfans can listen to all the action locally on 103.1 FM and on the Internet at UND.com.

     

     

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