May 3, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Coley Crank's solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning proved to be the difference as Michigan slipped past Notre Dame, 2-1, Tuesday night at Al Fisher Field. The Wolverines improved to 14-28 and the Irish dropped to 16-22-1.
With the game deadlocked, 1-1, Crank launched a 1-0 offering from Notre Dame freshman reliever Sean Fitzgerald over the left field wall for his team-leading sixth round tripper of the year.
Michigan's Tyler Mills, who entered the game with two outs in the seventh inning, retired Notre Dame 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth to secure the victory. Mills improved to 2-4 on the year. He allowed just one hit over 2.2 scoreless innings of relief. Mills punched out four and did not walk a batter.
Fitzgerald was charged with the loss and dropped to 1-1 on the campaign. He allowed a pair of hits in his inning of relief. The long ball from Crank was only the second home run allowed by the Irish bullpen in 95.1 innings of work this season. It was the first home run allowed by the pen since Fitzgerald surrendered one on March 5 against Winthrop - a span of 78.1 innings.
Senior RF and Michigan native Herman Petzold provided the only offense for the Irish. He smacked his first career home run, a solo shot, in the fourth inning.
Notre Dame had golden opportunities to grab the lead in each of the seventh and eighth innings.
Freshman 1B Trey Mancini opened the seventh with a double just inside the third base bag. After Petzold drew a four-pitch walk, junior CF Alex Robinson came to the plate in a clear sacrifice bunt situation. The first offering from Wolverine starter Matt Broder sailed outside the strike zone, but Michigan C Cole Martin caught Mancini straying too far off the second base bag.
Robinson followed with a laser-shot single to centerfield. The base hit ended the day for Broder. Mills came on and quickly got ahead of Irish DH/P Adam Norton, 0-2, but uncorked a wild pitch to move both Petzold and Robinson into scoring position. Norton fouled off four straight offerings from Mills before grounding to the shortstop. With the infield in, Michigan SS Derek Dennis threw home in an attempt to get Petzold, who appeared to slide in safely well before the tag, but was called out.
With runners now on the corners and two down, Mills struck out Irish pinch hitter David Casey to end the threat.
The Irish wasted another scoring chance in the top of the eighth inning. Notre Dame pinch hitter Matt Grosso ripped a leadoff single to open the frame. Senior SS Mick Doyle followed with a sacrifice bunt, but with the go-ahead run at third base and one out, Mills got senior 3B Greg Sherry to strikeout and freshman LF Eric Jagielo to pop out to end the inning.
Crank made the Irish pay for their failure in the bottom of the eighth.
Notre Dame threatened in the top of the third inning. Norton ripped a single back up the box and Broder plunked sophomore C Joe Hudson to open the frame. Junior 2B Tommy Chase, making his first start since March 24, 2009, was not able to successfully execute the sacrifice bunt attempt as Norton was forced out at third base. With runners still at first and second now with one out, Broder punched out Doyle looking and got Sherry to fly out to end the inning.
Norton worked out of a jam himself in the bottom of the third inning. John DiLaura opened the inning with a single and promptly swiped second base. After a sacrifice bunt moved him to third base with one out, Norton got a line out with the infield in and then punched out Dennis looking to end the inning. Mancini made a nice play on a hot shot off the bat of Patrick Biondi.
Broder quickly retired the first two Irish batters in the fourth inning before Petzold belted a 2-2 offering over the left field wall to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.
The lead did not last long. Michael O'Neill doubled to lead off the home half of the fourth inning and scored on Sean Lorenz's one-out RBI single to tie the score, 1-1, but Norton limited the damage to just the one run. He ultimately struck out the side in the fourth.
Norton continued to make critical pitches in tight situations to keep the game tied, 1-1, in the bottom of the fifth. DiLaura opened the fifth with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scampered to third on a ground out. With the go-ahead run at third base, Norton and more specifically Robinson in centerfield kept the game tied. The Irish centerfielder made a great diving catch on a sinking line drive to save a run.
Broder, on the other hand, was in complete command. He retired seven consecutive Irish batters following the Petzold home run. In fact, he sent down Notre Dame on just five pitches in the fifth.
Neither starting pitcher ultimately factored in the decision.
Norton allowed just one earned run on five hits and two walks in 6.0 innings of work. He equaled his career high with seven strikeouts. Norton registered his third quality start of 2011 and the Irish pitching staff's 26th of the year.
Broder limited Notre Dame to just one earned run on four hits in 6.1 innings. He fanned five and walked two.
Notre Dame and Michigan wrap up its home-and-home series at 5:35 p.m. on Wednesday at Frank Eck Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on WHME Harvest 103.1 FM and streamed live at UND.com. Live stats will also be available via GameTracker.
As always, please visit UND.com regularly for full coverage of all Notre Dame athletics news and events.