May 4, 2008
STORRS, Conn. - Notre Dame sophomore Eric Maust (Alpharetta, Ga.) went a career-high 8.2 innings and junior closer Kyle Weiland got the final out of the game with the tying run in scoring position to lead the Irish to a thrilling, 4-3, victory over Connecticut in the rubber game of the three-game BIG EAST series Sunday afternoon. With the victory, Notre Dame improves to 32-13-1 overall and 15-6 in the conference, while the Huskies drop to 23-27 and 8-16.
After Maust retired the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth inning and Notre Dame holding a 4-2 lead, Harold Brantley, Jr., who batted .500 for the weekend, reached on an infield single to keep the inning alive. Pierre LePage followed with a sharp single to right field on Maust's first pitch of the at-bat.
With runners on the corners and two outs, Maust was pulled for sophomore David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) to setup a lefty-on-lefty situation, but Elliot Glynn laced an RBI single to left field to plate Brantley, Jr. and cut the Irish lead in half, 4-3.
Mills was then pulled for Weiland, who promptly got ahead of UConn third baseman Pat Mahoney 0-2 before getting him to pop out to freshman Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) at shortstop to end the game. The save was Weiland's seventh of the year.
Maust, who tossed at least seven innings for the fifth consecutive start, improved to 6-1 on the season (now tied with senior Wade Korpi (Lake Worth, Fla.) for the team-lead in victories. The right-handed hurler scattered eight hits and three earned runs over his 8.2 innings of work. The outing was the longest of his Notre Dame career. Maust struck out four and walked just a pair.
Notre Dame grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. The Irish loaded the bases with one out on a pair of walks and a Doyle single. Fellow freshman Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) followed with an RBI single to centerfield. Mills added the second run of the inning with his fourth sacrifice fly of the year. Mills leads the Irish with 21 total sacrifices, which is the most in Notre Dame single-season history.
UConn quickly answered with a run of its own in the bottom half of the second inning. Mike Olt opened the frame with a leadoff double. After Maust retired the next two Huskies, Brad Olt plated his younger brother with an RBI double, but the Irish starter would not allow any further damage in the inning.
The Huskies drew even in the bottom of the fourth inning on a bang-bang play at the plate. Peter Fatse drew a one-out walk and promptly stole second base to move into scoring position. After Maust got Brad Olt to fly out, Brantley, Jr. singled to left field. Senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) charged the ball and threw a strike to senior Sean Gaston (Brownsburg, Ind.), but Fatse apparently slid underneath the tag of Gaston to tie the game, 2-2.
Notre Dame, more specifically, junior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) quickly answered in the top of the fifth inning. The second baseman belted his sixth home run of the season and third in the last two days to give the Irish a 3-2 lead.
The Irish added an all-important insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. Doyle opened the inning with an infield single. After Sherry laid down a sacrifice bunt, Doyle moved into scoring position. Mills followed with a sharp single to left field, but Doyle wasn't able to score. With runners on the corners and one out, sophomore A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) plated Doyle with an RBI ground out to give the Irish a two-run cushion, 4-2.
Notre Dame does not return to action until next weekend with its final BIG EAST series at Frank Eck Stadium against Pittsburgh. All three games can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com.