April 3, 2009
By Sam Hovland
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Sophomore Cole Johnson (Hudson, Ohio) threw his second consecutive complete game, and the Irish scored all three of their runs in the first inning to defeat the Villanova Wildcats, 3-1, in a game that lasted just an hour and 41 minutes. Johnson becomes the first Irish pitcher since Dan Kapala in 2005 to throw back-to-back complete games and moves to 4-0 on the season. Sophomore David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) led the Irish (17-10, 3-4) with a pair of RBI.
The loss for Villanova (14-13, 1-6) comes after the Wildcats had scored a combined 35 runs over previous two games, wins over Temple and Coppin State. Notre Dame is now 14-0-1 against Villanova at Frank Eck stadium and 14-1-1 in the past 16 meetings overall. Villanova drops to 1-8 in road games this season.
Starter Brian Streilein (3-4) took the loss for Villanova, despite also recording a complete game and giving up just three hits and no runs after the first inning. Streilein worked eight innings, giving up six hits and three runs, with three walks and three strikeouts. Streilein also induced 16 ground ball outs in the game.
Villanova mounted a rally in the ninth inning, the third inning of the last four that the Wildcats sent at least the tying run to the plate. Designated hitter Joe Rosati led off with a single, and one out later Matt McFolling walked and Joe Cotter singled to load the bases. But as he did all evening, Johnson escaped trouble, giving up just a sacrifice fly to Wesley Borden and inducing David Koczirka to ground out to end the game.
The Irish got off to a fast start in the bottom of the first. After Johnson retired the Wildcats in order, sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) led off with a single to center field. Junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) advanced Tate to second with a sacrifice bunt. After an A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) walk, Casey sent Streilein's first offering into the gap in left center for a two-run double. The double gave Casey six RBI in the past two games. Senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Tex.) followed with a double that one-hopped the wall in right center to plate Casey, giving the Irish the early 3-0 lead.
Johnson cruised through the first three innings, retiring the first nine batters on only 35 pitches with three strikeouts. Johnson benefited from some great Notre Dame defense in the fourth. With a runner on second and one out, senior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) made a sliding catch on a popup in foul territory, and on the next play Barnes made a diving catch in foul ground after a long run on a wind-aided fly ball.
Center fielder Joe Cotter led off Villanova's fourth with a triple off the wall in right, his BIG EAST-leading fifth triple of the year. Johnson bounced back by striking out Wesley Borden and inducing David Koczirka and Kyle Carver to line out to keep Villanova scoreless.
Another spectacular defensive play kept Villanova off the board in the sixth. A single to left by Joe Rosati put runners on first and second with one out, but on the next play junior Ryne Intlekofer (Moorpark, Calif.) made a diving stop on a sharp ground ball off the bat of Dain Hall and started a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. Johnson escaped another two-on, one-out jam in the seventh with a ground ball double play. The Irish turned a double play for the third consecutive inning in the eighth when David Mills caught a line drive in right and threw to first to easily double off Villanova runner Matt Szczur. The three double plays were a season high for Notre Dame.
Johnson gave up one run on seven hits, striking out five and walking just one. Johnson has now thrown at least seven innings in four consecutive starts and is 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in his past five outings. Opponents are batting just .191 against the Irish starter on the season.
After four of the first five Irish batters of the game reached base, Streilein settled down and retired 17 of the next 20 batters. Streilein gave up just one hit in the second through the sixth innings en route to recording Villanova's first complete game of the season.
Due to pending inclement weather, Notre Dame and Villanova will conclude their three-game BIG EAST series with a doubleheader tomorrow afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium. First pitch for the opening game is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. The nightcap will begin approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one. Notre Dame sophomore Brian Dupra (2-3, 6.40 ERA) take the mound against lefthander Kevin Crimmel (2-1, 4.15 ERA) in game one, while junior Eric Maust (2-2, 6.61 ERA) will square off against right-hander Chris Pack (3-3, 3.79) in game two.
Sunday's game has been cancelled.