April 6, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Seven runs in the third and fourth innings - as well as five in the seventh - propelled the Irish to a 13-6 victory over the Oakland Grizzlies in Tuesday baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium. Freshman Adam Norton picked his first career victory in his first start, punching out six in 4.0 innings.
Oakland held a 2-1 lead entering the bottom of the third, but freshman Frank Desico (Cleveland, Ohio) and senior Brayden Ashdown (Tucson, Ariz.) both homered in the inning, the first of the season for each player (and the first of Desico¹s career), to put the Irish (10-17) up for good. Desico collected a career-high four hits in the game, scored twice, and drove in a pair of runs. The second baseman continues to feast on left-handed pitching; he is now batting .591 (13-for-22) on the season with a southpaw delivering the pitches.
Senior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) tripled twice, walked, scored a run, and drove in four with the help of two sacrifice flies, which moved him into fifth place in Notre Dame history for total sacrifices in a career with 39 (28 sacrifice flies, 11 sacrifice bunts). The Irish finished with four sac flies in the game, bringing their BIG EAST-leading total to 21 (school record is 41, in 2002).
Senior Ryan Connolly (Binghamton, N.Y.) doubled in the first inning to extend his on-base streak to 39 games and also scored three times, walked, and reached via hit-by-pitch. He continued the streak in his first plate appearance of the game (excludes sacrifice bunts) for the eighth time in the last nine games; in fact, Connolly is 11-for-14 (.786) in his first plate appearance over the last 17 games and has a .731 on-base percentage in his first plate appearance of the game on the season.
Starter Aaron Wick (0-2) suffered the defeat for Oakland (5-15) after allowing a four-run third inning. He lasted 3.0 innings and gave up five runs, all earned, on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
Norton (1-0) gave up two earned runs on five hits and did not walk a batter in the game (he has walked none of the 33 batters he has faced in his career). Senior Steven Mazur (Round Rock, Texas) picked up his third save after pitching the final 2.1 innings, yielding a run while striking out three.
Norton made quick work of the Grizzlies in the first inning, needing just nine pitches, but not before Oakland pushed across a run. Tim Ryan led off with a double in the left-center field gap, Todd Dunham sacrificed him to third, and Tommy Jablonski followed with a first-pitch RBI groundout to Desico at second to make the 0-0 score short-lived.
The 1-0 Oakland lead was also short-lived, however, as the Irish tied the game in the bottom of the frame despite wasting an opportunity for a big inning. After Connolly¹s double, Desico¹s opposite-field line drive found grass to put runners on the corners, and Mills then flied to left to bring home Connolly and knot the score. A Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.) bloop single to center and a Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) walked loaded the bases with one out, but Wick fanned both Bill Warrender (Collegeville, Pa.) and Ashdown on high heaters to escape further damage.
Another RBI from Jablonski put the Grizzlies back on top in the third inning. With two outs, Jablonski smacked a ground ball single through the right side to allow Ryan to score easily from second. Ryan had reached second on a controversial stolen base; catcher Cameron McConnell¹s (Bannockburn, Ill.) throw sailed to the first base side of the bag, but Doyle still appeared to apply the tag after the catch.
The one-run Oakland cushion again evaporated quickly, as the Irish seemed to solve Wick from the moment he crossed the foul line for the bottom of the third. Five Irish players sent deep drives to the outfield in the inning, with two clearing the fence and one dropping in for a three-base hit. Desico went yard to dead center to lead off the inning, Mills followed with a fly to the warning track in right for a triple, and Martin laced the first pitch he saw to left for a sacrifice fly to put the Irish up 3-2. A two-out Warrender walk preceded Ashdown¹s no-doubt homer to left, and the Irish were up 5-2.
Wick¹s replacement did not fare much better, as Kevin Korkate yielded three runs in the fourth as Notre Dame blew the game open, taking an 8-2 lead. Connolly walked with one out, Desico executed a picture-perfect hit-and-run through the hole on the right side to put runners on the corners, and Mills notched his second opposite-field sacrifice fly of the game to make the score 6-2. Following a Martin frozen rope single to left, Doyle doubled to left-center to score both Desico and Martin.
The Grizzlies made it a game in the seventh, bringing the tying run to the plate after closing to 8-5, but Mazur got the final out of the inning and five Irish runs in the bottom half of the frame erased any hopes of a comeback. The five unearned runs came on just one hit, as Oakland committed two errors, walked a batter, and plunked two more before Mills drove in the final two runs of the inning with his second triple.
The Irish return to the field Wednesday to take on the Western Michigan Broncos in a 5:05 contest at Frank Eck Stadium. This marks the 14th straight year in which the two teams will face off, with Notre Dame capturing seven of the past eight meetings. Senior Eric Maust (0-3, 7.18 ERA) will get the starting nod for the Irish.