April 22, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Down 3-0 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, the Irish plated four runs in the frame and held on to defeat Michigan, 4-3, in the second game of a doubleheader at Frank Eck Stadium Wednesday night. Freshman Ryan Richter (South Bend, Ind.) picked up the victory for the Irish and sophomore Todd Miller (Franklin, Tenn.) nailed down his first career save by striking out three in 2.0 hitless innings of relief.
Senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) paced the Irish (23-15), going 2-for-3 with two RBI and two stellar defensive plays at shortstop. Junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) and sophomore Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) each had a hit, walk and RBI, while sophomore Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) threw out two attempted basestealers, including the potential tying runner in the seventh inning.
With the two RBI, Barnes moves into ninth place all-time at Notre Dame with 171, passing Brant Ust (1997-99), who incidentally is in his first season as a volunteer assistant coach with the Wolverines. Michigan has now lost eight of its past 12 games.
Richter went a career-high 5.0 innings in his second career start, giving up three runs on five hits with three walks and one strikeout. He picked up his fourth win (4-1) in eight appearances this season.
Travis Smith (4-5) suffered the loss in relief for Michigan (22-17), failing to retire any of the four batters he faced in the fifth. Mike Wilson started and pitched 4.0+ innings, giving up four hits and two earned runs, both of which scored after he exited the ballgame. Matt Miller was dominant in the last two innings, striking out four of the six batters he faced, including the side in the sixth inning.
Of the five Notre Dame hits in the game, four came in the first four innings, when the Irish failed to score. Notre Dame needed just one hit in its four-run fifth inning. In the doubleheader, the Irish went just 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position, including 1-for-7 with the bases loaded, with Barnes' two-run single being the lone hit.
Michigan got the scoring underway in the second when Coley Crank led off with a long home run to left off Richter, his second of the season. The home run was the first Richter has surrendered in his career.
The story started out the same for Notre Dame in game two. In the second, junior Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.) and Mills singled to start the inning and Doyle worked a walk to load the bases with no outs. But Wilson struck out junior Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) and McConnell on breaking balls and induced sophomore Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) to ground out to keep the Irish scoreless. It was the third time in the doubleheader that Notre Dame loaded the bases with less than two outs and did not score, and the Irish dropped to 0-for-6 with no RBI with the bases loaded on the day.
Michigan added two more in the fifth with Richter still on the mound. Alan Oaks singled with one out. With Mike Kittle at the plate, Oaks advanced to second on a wild pitch and third on a passed ball. The Wolverines then put on the suicide squeeze; Kitts popped the bunt up in front of the mound, and Richter dove for the ball but had it go off of his glove for a single and an RBI. After a walk and a single loaded the bases, Barnes made a diving stop on Anthony Toth's grounder, flipping to Doyle from his backside to get the force at second. Kittle scored on the play to make the score 3-0 in favor of the Wolverines.
The Irish broke through in the fifth, finally cashing in on a bases-loaded opportunity. Wilson walked Sherry and junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) on nine pitches to begin the inning and was lifted in favor of Smith. Junior Brayden Ashdown (Tucson, Ariz.) reached on an error to load the bases, and Barnes ripped a 2-0 offering into left field to score Sherry and Pollock and get the Irish within one at 3-2. Smith proceeded to hit Martin and walk Mills to force in a run and tie the game at three. Doyle followed with his sixth sacrifice fly of the season (tying him for the BIG EAST lead) to give Notre Dame the lead, 4-3. The Irish batted around in the inning despite recording just one hit.
The win was the first for Notre Dame over Michigan since May 12, 2004, snapping a four-game losing streak. It was also the first win over Michigan at Eck Stadium since May 2, 1996, though the Irish and Wolverines have only played at Notre Dame four times since 1992. Michigan now leads the all-time series, 79-44.
Notre Dame returns to action on Friday, April 24, as they travel to Louisville for a weekend series against the Cardinals. First pitch on Friday night is set for 6:30 p.m.