April 11, 2008
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Notre Dame All-American candidate David Phelps (Hazlewood, Mo.) tossed 8.2 masterful innings and sophomore David Mills' (Battlecreek, Mich.) two-out, go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning proved to be enough as the Irish rallied past Villanova, 2-1, in BIG EAST college baseball action from the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth on Friday afternoon. With the victory, combined with a St. John's loss, Notre Dame sits atop the league standings with an 8-2 mark and 19-9-1 overall record. The Wildcats, who had won their previous six games, drop to 15-16 and 4-6.
After numerous missed opportunities over the first seven innings, the Irish came through in the eighth and did again in the ninth. The ninth inning rally took a little two-out magic. Sophomore Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) walked to open the inning then freshman Greg Sherry (Mendam, N.J.) laid down a sacrifice bunt to put the go-ahead run into scoring position. After senior Brett Lilley (North Canton, Ohio) flew out to left field, Mills came through with a huge RBI single just out of the reach of Villanova shortstop Derek Shunk.
Phelps took the mound to open the Villanova bottom of the ninth inning, in search of his first complete game of 2008 and sixth of his career. He retired Dan Terpak for the first out of the inning, but James Dolbier pushed a seeing-eye single through the infield to put the tying run on base. Phelps nearly induced Dain Hall into a game-ending double play ground out, but Hall hustled down the line to keep the inning alive. Justin Bencsko then walked to push the tying run into scoring position.
Phelps was then removed for Irish closer Kyle Weiland (Albuquerque, N.M). Weiland quickly jumped ahead 0-2, but then a pair of breaking balls slipped out of his hand, one of which sailed to the back stop, to move the winning run into scoring position. The right-handed hurler did not shy away from the breaking ball and fanned Wesley Borden to end the game.
The save was Weiland's fourth of 2008 and 22of his career. Phelps improved to 4-3 on the year with his strongest outing of the season. He limited Villanova to just four hits and no earned runs over 8.2 innings. Phelps struckout eight and walked just a pair.
Mills provided much of the Irish offense on the day, totaling three of their eight hits. Mills went 3-for-4, while junior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) went 2-for-3 with a double.
The Wildcats grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. After Phelps issued a leadoff walk to Terpak, the Villanova first baseman scampered all the way to third base when Phelps' pickoff attempt evaded Sharpley at first and rolled into the right field corner. Dolbier then plated Terpark with an RBI ground out.
Notre Dame had plenty of chances over the first three innings to get on the scoreboard. The Irish put runners on first and second with one out in the first and then loaded the bases with one out in the second, but sophomore A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) and Boockford each hit into inning-ending double plays. Even with the two double plays, Notre Dame managed to strand five over the first three innings.
Villanova starter Jordan Ellis settled down and retired the Irish in order through the fourth and fifth innings, but Sharpley opened with sixth with a bullet single and advanced into scoring position on junior Jeremy Barnes' (Garland, Texas) perfectly executed sacrifice bunt. Senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) got ahead of Ellis in the count 3-0, but popped up a 3-1 offering for the second out before Ellis then induced a ground out from senior Sean Gaston (Brownsburg, Ind.) to end the threat.
Sherry lined a one-out single in the top of the seventh inning to get another Irish runner on base for Lilley. The senior belted a 1-1 offering that carried Dolbier all the way to the right field wall, but Dolbier made a leaping catch up against the wall to retire Lilley. Ellis then fanned Mills to end the inning.
Notre Dame again threatened in the top of the eighth inning and finally came through with the clutch hit. Sharpley ripped a one-out double to right field and Barnes followed with a two-strike RBI single to score pinch-runner Ryne Intlekofer to square the game, 1-1.
The Irish actually stranded at least one runner on base in eight of nine innings.
Ellis (1-4) was the tough-luck loser for the Wildcats. The righty allowed just one earned run over 8.0 full innings. Ellis scattered seven hits and struckout six.
Notre Dame returns to action for the final two games of the BIG EAST series at Villanova on Saturday and Sunday. First-pitch for each game is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. and can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com.