April 13, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Eight runs in the first three innings combined with a strong bullpen effort helped Notre Dame halt its five-game losing streak as the Irish defeated Cincinnati, 10-9. Notre Dame (18-15, 5-5 BIG EAST), who led by as many as seven runs, held on to even their conference record while the Bearcats (11-22, 1-9 BIG EAST) dropped their sixth straight.
RHP Sean Fitzgerald (3-3) earned the win with 2.1 innings in relief of Irish senior starter Will Hudgins. He allowed two runs and struck out four. Meanwhile, Bearcats starter Anthony Strenge (1-2) took the loss after giving up seven runs in 2.0 innings. RHP Dan Slania earned his seventh save, pitching a scoreless ninth.
The Irish, losers of eight of 10 entering the night, looked to remedy their losing streak by taking an early lead. With two outs in the first, junior C Joe Hudson laced an RBI double into the left-center field gap to score freshman DH Ryan Bull. Senior CF Alex Robinson followed his at-bat with an RBI single to left, plating sophomore 1B Trey Mancini. Hudson tried to score from second on the play but was gunned down at the plate.
In the second, the Irish added four runs, including three on a blast by sophomore 3B Eric Jagielo over the left-center field wall. The home run was Jagielo's team-leading seventh on the season and increased the Irish lead to 6-0.
Then, after the Bearcats added a run in the third, Hudson delivered the knockout blow to Strenge. He turned on a hanging breaking ball and sent it over the left field wall for a solo home run, his fifth of the season. Junior RF Charlie Markson then scored on a wild pitch to increase the Irish lead to 8-1.
However, Hudgins, who led the BIG EAST with a 1.33 ERA entering the game, was not his usual self and let the Bearcats back in the game.
After cruising through the first two innings, Hudgins ran into trouble with two out in the third. Jake Proctor drilled a double into the left-center field gap to score the Bearcats' first run. Ryan Quinn then lined a rocket up the middle, but junior 2B Frank DeSico snared it with a diving catch.
Hudgins, with an 8-1 lead in the fourth, was again hit hard and allowed four runs. The Bearcats batted around and scored three times with two outs on three consecutive singles by Matt Williams, Nic Spence and Jake Proctor. The inning could have been worse, but Robinson dove and caught a line drive to center by Braden Kline with the bases loaded.
The Bearcats finally chased Hudgins from the game in the fifth. DH T.J. Jones golfed a two-run home run to left to close the deficit to 8-7 and chase Hudgins from the game. Entering the night, Hudgins had surrendered just eight earned runs in 54.1 innings, but the co-captain yielded seven in just four innings.
Notre Dame responded with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Three straight singles by senior 3B Tommy Chase, Hudson and Robinson loaded the bases with nobody out. After Markson popped out to second, freshman LF Mac Hudgins dribbled a two-run single to right to make the score, 10-7.
Fitzgerald, who replaced Hudgins, allowed two runs in the sixth on a Joey Bielek two-run single, but the Bearcats could not get any closer.
The Irish bullpen combined to pitch 4.2 innings, allowing just two runs on three hits. In the final three innings, five Irish relievers combined to hold the Bearcats hitless. Slania struck out two in the ninth and worked around a throwing error by freshman SS Jason McMurray to close the game.
Bearcats LHP Thomas Gentile quieted the Irish bats for three innings, allowing no runs. He was pulled from the game in the eighth after loading the bases with one out. However, Art Warren induced a double play from Chase to end the scoring threat.
Notre Dame and Cincinnati return to the diamond at 2:05 p.m. ET Saturday at Frank Eck Stadium. In-game updates will be available on Twitter at @NDBaseball and Facebook at NDBaseball, and fans can listen to all the action locally on 103.1 FM and on the Internet at UND.com.