April 15, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Five runs against the Notre Dame bullpen and 7.0 strong innings from starter Christian McElroy helped Cincinnati avoid a sweep as they defeated the Irish, 6-2, Sunday at Frank Eck Stadium. Notre Dame dropped to 19-16 overall and 6-6 in the BIG EAST, while the Bearcats improved to 12-23 and 2-10.
McElroy, who improved to 2-2 with the victory, tossed 7.0 innings for the longest outing of his career and held the Irish offense to just three hits. He struggled with command at times, walking five and hitting three batters, but Notre Dame failed to take advantage.
The Irish left 12 runners on base, including eight in scoring position. Notre Dame loaded the bases twice and failed to score on either occasion. The Irish went 1-for-10 (.100) with runners in scoring position and just 2-for-19 (.105) with runners on base.
The Bearcats ended a seven-game losing streak with the win, while the Irish suffered their first conference loss at home this season.
With the game tied, 1-1, in the top of the fifth, Notre Dame summoned its bullpen after freshman starting RHP Pat Connaughton (Arlington, Mass./St. John's Prep) had thrown 80 pitches through the first four innings.
The Bearcats took advantage of three Irish relievers and plated three runs. After Justin Glass started the inning with an infield single against senior LHP Ryan Richter (South Bend, Ind./St. Joseph's H.S.), Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki brought in freshman RHP Matt Ternowchek (Glenmoore, Pa./Downington East H.S.).
T.J. Jones (2-for-4) and C Jake Saylor (3-for-5) then recorded back-to-back RBI singles to give the Bearcats a 3-1 lead. Ternowchek struggled in allowing three singles and walking one, only recording an out via a caught stealing by junior C Joe Hudson (Odessa, Fla./Tampa Jesuit H.S.). However, Richter was charged with the loss and dropped to 0-3 despite throwing just two pitches.
Senior LHP Steve Sabatino (Lockport, Ill./Lockport Township H.S.) then entered the game for Ternowchek with one out in the fifth. He surrendered an RBI single to J.P. Jackson but limited the damage by recording the final two outs to end the frame.
The Bearcats struck again in the sixth to increase their lead to 6-1 and put the game out of reach. Jones capped off a three RBI day as he launched a two-out, two-run home run to left off of sophomore RHP Sean Fitzgerald (McLean, Va./McLean H.S.).
The long ball completed a strong weekend for Jones as he finished the series 4-for-12 with two home runs and eight RBI.
In the first two games of the series, the Irish bullpen allowed just two runs in 6.2 innings. However, Sunday they were not as effective, allowing five runs in 5.0 innings.
Meanwhile, the Irish offense struggled to take advantage of scoring opportunities. In the second, the Irish loaded the bases with two out, but McElroy struck out freshman SS Phil Mosey (Fishers, Ind./Cathedral H.S.) to keep the game scoreless.
In the fourth, the Irish loaded the bases again after tying the score, 1-1, on a sacrifice fly by freshman LF Mac Hudgins (Richmond, Va./Douglass Freeman H.S.). McElroy plunked Mosey and walked junior 2B Frank DeSico (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius H.S.) with two out to load the bases for freshman DH Ryan Bull (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie H.S.). However, after a visit to the mound by the Bearcats pitching coach, McElroy struck out Bull to escape the threat.
While Connaughton only allowed one run, he labored through four innings as the Bearcats hitters worked deep into counts. However, the outing was his longest of the season in just his third start. He struck out four and only allowed three hits while walking two.
He ran into trouble in the fourth as the Bearcats put runners on first and second with no out on an infield single and walk. Then, with one out, Ethan McAlpine lined an RBI single to center to give Cincinnati a 1-0 lead.
The Irish added another run in the ninth inning on a two-out RBI single by Hudson. Junior RF Charlie Markson (Whitefish Bay, Wisc./Whitefish Bay H.S.) and DeSico were the only Irish batters with two hits as the team only managed six hits on the game.
Notre Dame returns to the diamond against Georgetown at 7:00 p.m. ET Friday at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda, Md. 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.