April 7, 2007
CINCINNATI - Jeremy Barnes tied a career-high with four hits and factored into four of Notre Dame's runs, as the Irish baseball team bounced back from a pair of 4-3 losses to take the series finale from Cincinnati, 9-5, in Saturday afternoon action at Marge Schott Stadium. Sophomore righthander Kyle Weiland's first career start produced a no-decision in 3.0-plus innings, with relievers Joey Williamson and Jess Stewart then closing out the win for the visitors.
Notre Dame (14-16, 2-6 BIG EAST) held a brief 2-0 lead in the 2nd before the Bearcats answered with three in the bottom of the inning. The Irish then responded with five runs in the 3rd - the team's first "big inning" (5-plus runs) in the past 11 games - and maintained their cushion throughout the final six innings.
Barnes (4-for-5, RBI, 3 R) - who had yet to register more than two hits in a game this season - raised his season batting average nearly 30 points (.247 to .276), as he looks to surge in the second half of the season. The sophomore second baseman was Notre Dame's RBI leader in 2006 (49) and now has totaled 12 RBI and 16 runs scored during the current season.
Weiland - who entered the game with the 5th-best career ERA (2.51) in ND history - was charged with four runs on seven hits and two walks, with a pair of strikeouts in his 61-pitch outing. Williamson (2-2) allowed 1-of-2 inherited runners to score in the 4th but then surrendered just an unearned over the rest of his 4.0 innings, as he avoided trouble despite allowing three hits and four walks (4 Ks).
Stewart notched his first save of the season and second of his career, after facing nine batters over the final 2.0 innings. With two runners on base in the 8th, Stewart came on to register a groundout, walk and strikeout (with the tying run at the plate) before leaving the bases loaded on a groundout to the right side.
Sophomore righthander Michael Hill (3-2) failed to pitch out of the 3rd, allowing seven runs (six earned) in 2.1 innings. The transfer from East Carolina was touched for seven hits but did not walk a batter, with a pair of strikeouts.
The Irish claimed an early lead for the second time in the series. Senior centerfielder Danny Dressman started the sequence with a 1-out single, going the other way to send an 0-1 pitch through the left side of the infield. Barnes followed with his own opposite-field hit, taking the first pitch for a ball before placing a double down the rightfield line. First baseman Neall French then dropped a throw from the shortstop, allowing Mike Dury (RBI) to reach before Ryan Smith (RBI) got aboard on a similar play with his grounder to the left side (the third baseman bobbled the ball getting ready to start a double play).
Cincinnati snatched the lead moments later, using four hits, a hit batter and a wild pitch to surge ahead 3-2. Brian Szarmach provided the big hit from the 8-hole, with an RBI double into the right-center gap.
Notre Dame came out swinging in the 3rd, as first-pitch singles from A.J. Pollock, Ross Brezovsky, Barnes and Mike Dury helped end the short outing for Hill. Pollock led off by dropping a bunt down the third-base line before Brezovsky sent the next pitch up the middle. Matt Weglarz then loaded the bases, after lunging past the first baseman's tag, and Dressman followed with a sacrifice fly to center field. Barnes added another opposite-field hit with a scorcher past the second baseman and Dury pulled the next pitch down the rightfield line for an RBI double.
Sophomore RHP Jake Geglein then entered the game, as the first of five Bearcats relievers, but Smith lifted a sac. fly to center (one of his 3 RBI in the game) and fellow freshman Michael Wright sent a run-scoring single up the middle for the 7-3 lead.
Cincinnati (17-14, 4-5) - which stranded 17 baserunners in the game (ND left 12 on base) - plated single runs in the 4th and 5th but the Irish countered with a pair of valuable insurance runs, in the 5th and 7th. Barnes singled up the middle to lead off the 5th (vs. LHP Adam Calez) and came around to score, after Dury's five-pitch walk and Smith's shot off the drawn-in third baseman (the ball bounced into shallow left field, with Barnes hustling on the play to score from second).
Righthander A.J. Upton later lost Wright and Lilley on 1-out walks in the 7th - bringing closer Billy Welsh into the game -before an error loaded the bases. Brezvosky then brought home the game's final run (unearned) with a sac. fly to right field.
NOTES - Saturday's game marked the ninth time this season ND has totaled 14-plus hits ... the nine runs matched ND's run total from the previous five BIG EAST games ... ND had 5 runners on third base with fewer than 2-outs and scored all of them (5-of-5, after just a 59% conversion pct. of those prime RBI chances in the previous 29 games) ... Barnes had six games with 3-plus hits in 2006 (including a 4-for-5 game vs. USF) ... ND has seven "big innings" (5-plus runs) this season, plus eight other 4-run innings ... the Irish are 10-4 this season when posting double-digit hits ... ND allowed just 1-of-4 inherited runners to score (now 24 of 49, or 49%, for the season) ... after playing 22 of its first 30 games on the road, ND will play 19 of the final 26 regular-season games at home (including an upcoming 12-game homestand).
Notre Dame (14-16, 2-6 BIG EAST) 0-2-5 0-1-0 1-0-0 - 9 14 3
Kyle Weiland, Joey Williamson (4; W, 2-2), Jess Stewart (8; SV, 1) and Ryan Smith.