April 20, 2008
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - - Sophomore Eric Maust (Alpharetta, Ga.) tossed seven strong innings and sophomore David Mills (Battlecreek, Mich.) belted a seventh inning, two-out grand slam to lead Notre Dame past West Virginia, 9-4, Sunday afternoon in the rubber game of its three game BIG EAST series. The Irish improve to 25-10-1 overall and 12-3 in the league, while the Mountaineers drop to 28-11 and 8-7.
Maust (4-1), who did not arrive in Morgantown until 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning after participating in the Notre Dame Blue-Gold football game, scattered seven hits and allowed four earned runs en route to his fourth win of the season. He struckout a season-high tying six and did not issue a walk.
After West Virginia tagged Maust with a pair of solo home runs in the bottom of the second inning to grab a 2-1 lead, the right-handed hurler retired six straight and nine of the next 11 Mountaineers before Jordan Yost hit a two-run home run to give West Virginia a 4-3 lead.
Maust would send down nine of the next 11, allowing just a pair of singles, to hold West Virginia silent over the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Notre Dame quickly regained the lead with two runs in the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) opened the frame with a double and promptly stole third before coasting in on senior Ross Brezovsky's (Naples, Fla.) RBI ground out. Senior Sean Gaston (Brownsburg, Ind.) followed with an RBI single to make the score, 5-4.
The five runs would prove to be enough, but Mills left no doubt following his second career home run (second in as many days) and first-ever grand slam and in the top of the seventh inning. Gaston reached on a one-out single. After a critical error by Mountaineer third baseman Vince Belome, wild pitch and hit batter loaded the bases, Mills stroked a 1-0 offering from West Virginia closer Chris Enourato over the right field fence to give the Irish a 9-4 advantage.
The five-run cushion was more than enough for sophomore Steven Mazur (Round Rock, Texas), Mills and junior Kyle Weiland (Albuquerque, N.M.). The trio combined for two hitless innings of relief. Mills fanned each of the two hitters he faced.
Mills went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, two sacrifice bunts and four RBI. Gaston went 3-for-5 with a run scored and RBI, while Pollock and sophomore Brayden Ashdown (Tucson, Ariz.) also chipped in with two hits apiece. Pollock drove in a pair and Ashdown scored two runs.
With the Irish victory (now 12-3 in the conference), combined with Georgetown's win over Cincinnati, Notre Dame regained a one-game lead over the Bearcats in the BIG EAST standings.
Notre Dame returns to action this week with a pair of non-conference games. The Irish host Chicago State on Tuesday at 6:05 p.m. at Frank Eck Stadium before travelling to Fort Wayne to face IPFW at Memorial Stadium. First pitch between the Mastodons and Irish is slated for 7:30 p.m. Both games can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com.