May 5, 2012
PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. - Notre Dame junior RHP Adam Norton struck out a career-high nine in a complete game shutout of Villanova, 6-0, Saturday at the Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth Meeting. The Irish improved to 24-22 overall and 10-10 in the BIG EAST, while the Wildcats dropped to 27-21 and 9-11.
Norton improved to 4-3 on theseason with his second career complete game and second of 2012. He tossed the first complete game shutout by an Irish pitcher since Eric Maust blanked West Virginia on Apr. 18, 2009. Norton limited Villanova to just five hits, all singles, and did not allow a Wildcat to reach third base. In fact, Villanova advanced only two base runners into scoring position the entire game and not a single one after the fourth inning.
Norton retired 18 of the last 20 batters in the game, including the final eight Wildcats. He worked ahead in the count all afternoon. Norton tossed a first pitch strike to 25 of the 32 batters he faced. He was forced to a three-ball count on just three occasions and went 2-0 to a Villanova hitter only once. Eighty-seven of Norton's 118 pitches were strikes.
Norton, who entered the day ranked second in the NCAA in fewest walks per nine innings pitched, extended his streak to 22.1 innings without a free pass. He has now tossed 81.0 innings this season and issued only four free passes.
Junior CF Charlie Markson paced the 12-hit Notre Dame attack. He went 3-for-4 with a single, double, two-run home run and three RBI. The round tripper was the first of his career. Freshman DH Ryan Bull, sophomore 1B Trey Mancini and junior C Joe Hudson also had multi-hit games.
Bull went 2-for-5, while Mancini went 2-for-4 with a run scored and Hudson went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Norton and Villanova starter Pat Young were matched up in a pitcher's duel until the Irish broke through in the top of the fourth inning.
Hudson laced a one-out doubledown the left field line and senior RF Alex Robinson followed with an infield single. With runners on the corners, Markson sliced an RBI double over the head of the Wildcats' first baseman and down the right field line to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead. Freshman LF Mac Hudgins followed with a ground ball to the right side to push the Irish lead to 2-0.
Villanova had a slight threat in its half of the fourth. Tyler Sciacca opened the inning with an infield single. Norton got a pair of fly outs before Connor Jones singled with two down, but Norton struck out Brandon Clark to end the inning.
Norton would retire the next seven Wildcats until a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning. The base hit proved harmless as the Irish hurler picked up back-to-back punch outs (actually fanned the side in the frame) to end the inning.
Notre Dame put the game away in the top of the eighth. Mancini and Hudson collected back-to-back one-out singles to put runners on the corners with one out for Robinson, who followed with a perfectly executed safety squeeze bunt that pushed the Irish lead to3-0. Markson ended any doubt one pitch later when he hammered a hanging slider over the left field wall for a two-run bomb that extended the lead to 5-0.
The shutout was Notre Dame's fourth of 2012.
Young was charged with the loss and dropped to 5-4 on the season. He was tagged with five runs, all earned, on 11 hits. Young struck out six and walked none.
Notre Dame continues its series with BIG EAST foe Villanova at 12:15 p.m. Sunday at Villanova Ballpark in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. Freshman RHP Pat Connaughton will take the mound for the Irish. 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.