April 29, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Sunday's series finale with St. John's was all too familiar to each of the first two games in the series as Notre Dame was simply unable to come through with runners in scoring position as the Red Storm knocked off the Irish, 3-1, at Frank Eck Stadium. St. John's swept the series and did so by two runs in each contest. Notre Dame went 6-for-30 with runners in scoring position over the weekend and stranded 27 on the base paths, including 17 in scoring position.
The Irish dropped to 22-20 overall and 9-9 in the BIG EAST, while the Red Storm improved to 28-16 and 14-4.
St. John's starting RHP Kyle Hansen improved to 3-5 on the season and 3-0 in his career against the Irish. He limited Notre Dame to one earned run on five hits in 7.1 innings of work with four strikeouts and three walks. Hansen, who fanned 15 against Notre Dame in a complete game shutout in 2011, has a career 0.78 ERA in 23.0 innings against the Irish. In fact, he tossed 23.0 consecutive scoreless innings against Notre Dame before the Irish scratched across a run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Despite that success, Notre Dame had it chances. The Irish had runners in scoring position in the first, second, sixth, seventh and eighth inning but were only able to come away with one run. Notre Dame stranded 10 on the afternoon and seven in scoring position.
The Irish pitching staff did its part for the third straight game in the series. Freshman RHP Pat Connaughton (2-3) allowed three runs, only two of which were earned, on six singles in 5.2 innings. He struck out two and walked two. Sophomore RHP Donnie Hissa was outstanding in relief. The right-handed hurler retired all 10 St. John's batters he faced in 3.1 perfect innings of relief. Hissa struck out four and did not issue a walk, but it was not enough.
The Red Storm silenced the heart of Notre Dame's order for most of the weekend. The trio of sophomore 3B Eric Jagielo, sophomore 1B Trey Mancini and junior C Joe Hudson, who entered the weekend batting .346, .336 and .357 respectively, combined to go only 4-for-31 (.129) in the series. Jagielo collected three of those four hits, including a double and home run, but Hudson and Mancini went just 1-for-21 (.048) combined. The trio also went hitless in 15 total at bats with runners in scoring position (Jagielo 0-for-3, Mancini 0-for-6 and Hudson 0-for-6).
Freshman SS Kevin DeFilippis picked up his first career multi-hit game (2-for-4) with a double.
St. John's grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Pat Talbut slapped a seeing-eye single through the right side and moved into scoring position when Connaughton plunked Matt Wessinger. After a fly out, Jeremy Baltz pulled a two-out RBI single to left field. The RBI was Baltz's 12th in eight career games against the Irish.
The Red Storm pushed its lead to 2-0 on a sacrifice fly from Kyle Richardson in the top of the fourth. St. John's could have struck for more as it loaded the bases with one out on a pair of soft-serve singles and walk, but Connaughton got a fly out and pop out to end the inning.
The Irish had a pair of scoring chances in each of the first two innings, but were unable to take advantage on either occasion. Notre Dame had two on and one out in the first, but Hansen got Mancini to pop out and Hudson to fly out to end the inning.
After freshman LF Mac Hudgins drew a two-out walk in the second inning, DeFilippis snuck a double just inside the third base bag and down the left field line. Hudgins scampered to third base, but Hansen got junior 2B Frank DeSico to strikeout with two in scoring position to end the threat.
Hansen retired nine consecutive Notre Dame batters through the third, fourth and fifth innings. He actually sent down 10 straight overall at one point.
The Red Storm added to their lead with a run in the top of the fifth inning without the benefit of a base hit. DeFilippis' second error of the game proved costly. Wessinger reached base on his throwing error and came around to score on Sean O'Haire's sacrifice fly (St. John's second sacrifice fly of the game), which should have ended the inning.
Connaughton was relieved with two outs in the sixth inning following Richardson's bloop double. Hissa came on and picked up a strikeout to end the inning.
Notre Dame picked up back-to-back singles in the bottom of the sixth inning from freshman DH Ryan Bull and Jagielo that snapped Hansen's streak of 10 straight retired batters, but Hansen once again worked out of the jam. He got Mancini to fly out and Hudson to pop out before getting a called third strike on Robinson to end the frame.
Notre Dame did scratch a run off Hansen in the bottom of the seventh inning. DeSico executed a safety squeeze bunt to bring the Irish within two runs, 3-1. With another runner in scoring position, Hansen got Bull to foul out.
Notre Dame's run was its first off Hansen in his previous 23.0 innings against the Irish. Ryan Connolly hit a solo home run to open the game against Hansen in 2010.
The Irish threatened again the eighth inning. After Jagielo hit a missile right at the Red Storm third baseman, Mancini drew a walk that ended the day for Hansen. Rivera came on and got Hudson to foul out before senior RF Alex Robinson singled down the right field line to put runners on the corners with two outs. Rivera got Markson to fly out to centerfield to end the inning.
Connaughton limited St. John's to a pair of earned runs (three runs overall) on six hits ¬- all singles - in 5.2 innings of work. He struck out two and walked two. Connaughton tossed a career-high 95 pitches, 59 of which were for strikes
Notre Dame returns to action at 5:35 p.m. Tuesday at Frank Eck Stadium against Butler. 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.