April 27, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The quartet of Cole Johnson, Ryan Sharpley, Joe Spano and Steven Mazur combined for Notre Dame's first shutout of the season as the Irish blanked Toledo, 9-0, in non-conference college baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Tuesday night. The shutout was the first for Notre Dame since April 18, 2009.
Notre Dame improved to 18-22 on the season, while the Rockets dropped to 23-17.
Johnson, Sharpley, Spano and Mazur not only limited the Rockets to six hits, all singles, but combined to strikeout 12 and walked only one. The 12 strikeouts were the most by the Irish this season and most since Notre Dame punched out 13 against Central Michigan on March 24, 2009. Toledo entered the contest batting .324 on the year with 113 doubles.
Johnson was credited with the victory and improved to 2-3 on the year. He looked sharp in his first outing since March 12. The junior had missed the last month with impingement in his right shoulder. Johnson did surrender a leadoff single to open the game, but rebounded with a pair of ground outs and strikeout to strand the leadoff hit at third base.
Johnson yielded a leadoff single in the top of the second before recording back-to-back punch outs. He was removed after the second strikeout on a predetermined pinch count. Johnson threw 30 pitches, 20 for strikes, and did not issue a walk. He struck out three.
Sharpley, who entered with one out in the second, retired the first three Rockets he faced before Tim Krofcheck dropped in a two-out bloop single in the third inning. The single proved meaningless as Sharpley got a pop out to end the inning.
Sharpley continued to over-power Toledo in the fourth inning. He got a pop out and two weak ground outs to work around a two-out free pass. The junior extended his scoreless streak to 6.1 innings with another run-free inning of work in the top of the fifth.
Sharpley tossed 3.1 innings of scoreless relief and limited the Rockets to just a pair of singles. He fanned a pair and walked one.
Spano picked up right where Sharpley and Johnson left off with a trio of scoreless innings of relief. The southpaw retired the first five Toledo batters before yielding a single and fanned four of the seven batters he faced. Spano surrendered a one-out base hit in the eighth, but registered a strikeout and fly out to end the inning.
Spano tossed 3.0 scoreless innings of relief; the longest outing of his career without giving up a run. He did allow two singles, but struck out a career-best five without a walk.
Mazur then worked a perfect ninth inning and fanned two.
Senior left fielder Ryan Connolly and Martin each went 2-for-4. Connolly drove in a pair and scored three runs, while Martin added an RBI. Connolly's doubled to open the bottom of the first inning gave him a base hit in six consecutive plate appearances. Freshman second baseman Frank Desico chipped in with two RBI and a run scored, while senior designated hitter David Mills scored a run and drove in a run. Junior pinch hitter David Casey added an RBI single.
Toledo starter Cody Umbright was charged with the loss and dropped to 2-3 on the campaign. He induced seven Notre Dame ground outs. He limited the Irish to four runs, of which only two were earned, on five hits in 7.0 innings. Umbright struck out three and walked five.
Notre Dame did not waste any time against Umbright. Connolly opened the frame with a double off the base of the leftfield wall and DeSico followed with an infield single. Mills made it three straight hits with an infield hit off Umbright's glove to plate Connolly and give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead. Martin reached on a fielder's choice and moved to second on an error that also allowed DeSico to race home, which pushed the Irish advantage to 2-0. Umbright evaded further damage with a strikeout and fly out.
Notre Dame doubled its lead to 4-0 with two more runs in the bottom of the second. Junior third baseman Greg Sherry singled with one out and moved all the way to third base on consecutive wild pitches from Umbright. Connolly walked and promptly stole second before DeSico made it 3-0 with an RBI ground out. Mills then reached on an error by Jim Vahalik at first base, which extended the Notre Dame lead to 4-0.
Umbright really settled down after the second inning. The right-handed hurler retired 14 of the last 16 batters he faced over the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh inning, including seven consecutive Irish batters before Martin's two-out single in the bottom of the seventh.
The Irish put the game out of reach with five unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, thanks to four Toledo errors.
Notre Dame returns to action against Valparaiso at 7:00 p.m. CT on Wednesday at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Ind. Live stats, live web stream, live blog and a recap of the game will be available on UND.com.
Tickets for all Fighting Irish home contests this season are available through the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356), on-line at the official Fighting Irish athletics web site (www.UND.com/tickets), and at the Frank Eck Stadium ticket windows on game night.