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    Notre Dame Baseball Drops A Heartbreaker To Rutgers, 8-6, In 11 Innings

    FIGHTING IRISH Billy Boockford
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Billy Boockford
    FIGHTING IRISH

    April 11, 2010

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    NOTRE DAME, Ind. < Rutgers tallied a pair of runs in the top of the 11th inning to grab an 8-6 come-from-behind victory over Notre Dame and secure a series victory at Frank Eck Stadium Sunday afternoon. The Scarlet Knights improve to 17-13 overall and 7-2, while the Irish drop to 11-19 and 2-7.

    Notre Dame was two outs away from one of the more remarkable turn-around victories in recent memory. Just 24 hours following a 25-5 loss to Rutgers, the Irish cligned to a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the ninth.

    Notre Dame senior closer Steven Mazur fanned Brandon Boykin to open the ninth, but Michael Lang and Pat Biserta followed with back-to-back bloop singles to put runners on the corners. The Irish closer then induced Steve Nyisztor into a potential game-ending double play ground ball, but it was not hit hard enough to nail the speedy Scarlet Knights second baseman and Lang scored to tie the score at 6-6. Mazur fanned Jaren Matthews to end the inning and keep the score tied.

    Notre Dame provided drama in the bottom of the ninth. Rutgers closer Tyler Gebler retired senior designated hitter David Mills and senior first baseman Casey Martin to open the frame, but junior shortstop Mick Doyle got a 3-1 fast ball and belted it to left field. Biserta raced back to the base of the wall and hauled in the potential game-winning home run.

    Rutgers regained the lead in the top of the 11th inning off Irish sophomore reliever Will Hudgins. Lang opened the frame with a single, giving him four hits for the second consecutive game. After Biserta executed a sacrifice bunt, Nyisztor golfed a single to centerfield to plate Lang and give Rutgers a 7-6 lead.

    Sophomore Joe Spano replaced Hudgins and walked Matthews. Jayson Hernandez followed with a ground out that allowed both Nyisztor and Matthews to advance into scoring position. Spano then uncorked a wild pitch that clearly bounced in the dirt and ricocheted off Jimenez, which should have been a hit batter and dead ball, and Nyisztor scampered home for the ever important insurance run to make the Scarlet Knights lead, 8-6.

    Notre Dame did benefit from a Rutgers error in the bottom of the 11th. DeSico reached with one out on a miscue by Scarlet Knights shortstop Dan Betteridge to bring the tying run to the plate, but Gebler got Mills to pop out. Martin followed with an absolute missile right back at the right-hander, who never had an opportunity to react to the ball, but it just happened to scream directly into his glove to end the game.

    Gebler picked up the victory and evened his record at 1-1. The freshman tossed 3.1 innings of scoreless and hitless relief. Gebler fanned one and walked one.

    Hudgins picked up the loss and dropped to 1-1. The right-handed sidewinder surrendered a pair of hits and two earned runs in 0.1 innings of work.

    Senior right-handed pitcher Eric Maust did not factor in the decision, but he put together his best outing of the season. Maust entered today¹s contest on the heels of his two worst starting outings in an Irish uniform. He lasted just 1.2 and 1.1 innings (the shortest two starts of his career) in his last two outings against USF and Georgetown, respectively.

    Maust allowed five earned runs in 8.0 innings and scattered 12 hits. He struck out two and did not walk a batter.

    Senior right fielder Billy Boockford paced the Irish attack with three hits. Boockford, who was making his first start in the outfield in 2010 and first since April 22, 2009, went 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Freshman Frank Desico, Martin, senior centerfielder Brayden Ashdown and junior catcher Cameron McConnell all chipped in with two hits apiece. Senior left fielder Ryan Connolly went 1-for-3 with two walks and a three-run home run. Ashdown and McConnell each also added solo home runs.

    Lang, Biserta and Nyisztor continued to terrorize the Notre Dame staff. The top three in the Scarlet Knights lineup combined to go 9-for-17 with five runs scored and five RBI.

    Rutgers initially opened the game exactly where it left off Saturday in Sunday¹s. The Scarlet Knights registered four hits, but Maust limited them to just one run. Biserta roped a one-out RBI double off the leftfield wall to give Rutgers a 1-0 lead.

    Connolly did not waste any time in extending his streak for consecutive games reaching base to 42 with a leadoff walk to open the bottom of the first. In fact, Connolly has now reached base in his first plate appearance of a game on 20 of 29 (.690) occasions this season.

    DeSico followed with a single and Mills executed a sacrifice bunt to give the Irish a pair of runners in scoring position with one out, but Rutgers starter Dan O¹Neill got Martin to pop out on the infield and Doyle struck out swinging to end the inning.

    While the Irish missed out on a scoring chance in the first, Ashdown and McConnell each belted solo home runs in the second to give Notre Dame a 2-1 advantage. The bombs were the second of the season for both players.

    Maust did allow a pair of leadoff singles to the Scarlet Knights in the second and third, but worked around each in large part to five ground outs over the span, including a double play to end the third inning.

    Rutgers did break through for a couple more runs off Maust in the top of the fourth inning. Maust plunked Hernandez to open the frame and retired the next two Scarlet Knights, but, as they did all weekend, Rutgers came through with two down. Betteridge and Boykin followed with singles to load the bases for Lang, who made it three straight base hits with a two-run single to give Rutgers a 3-2 advantage.

    Notre Dame quickly answered and equalized with some two-out magic of its own in the bottom of the fourth inning. Boockford blooped a single just inside the right field foul line and McConnell followed with a single back up the middle. Boockford raced to third base and trotted home on Norton¹s RBI double. Connolly followed with a walk to load the bases, still two down, but was promptly picked off to end the inning.

    Safe to say, the Irish captain made up from his earlier base running mistake in the bottom of the sixth. With runners on first and second, again with two outs, Connolly took a 1-1 pitch and deposited it just over the left field wall and the outstretched glove of a leaping Biserta to give Notre Dame a 6-3 lead. The home run was Connolly¹s team-best sixth of the season.

    Maust settled down after allowing the two runs in the fourth. The righty retired the Scarlet Knights in order in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. In fact, Maust sent down 10 consecutive Rutgers batters before Nyisztor doubled to open the eighth inning.

    Matthews followed Nyisztor¹s double with one of his own to cut the Irish lead to 6-4. Maust then got Hernandez to fly out, but Kapp made it 6-5 with an infield RBI single. Maust remained in the game and got consecutive fly outs to keep Notre Dame¹s lead in-tact.

    Notre Dame returns to action at Frank Eck Stadium on Tuesday, April 13 against Chicago State. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

     

     

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