May 8, 2011
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Rutgers got a RBI single from Steve Zavala in the bottom of the 14th inning to give the Scarlet Knights a 3-2 victory over Notre Dame in the BIG EAST series finale Sunday afternoon at Bainton Field. The Irish took two of three from Rutgers on the weekend, but dropped to 18-24-1 overall and 9-11 in the conference. The Scarlet Knights improved to 17-27 and 8-13.
Rutgers' centerfielder Brandon Boykin dropped a one-out double just inside the right field line to move the winning run into scoring position for Steve Zavala. Irish reliever Sean Fitzgerald got ahead of Zavala 1-2, but the Scarlet Knights left fielder sliced a single into shallow left field.
Notre Dame freshman left fielder Eric Jagielo charged the ball and threw a strike to sophomore C Joe Hudson, who caught the ball and appeared to tag Boykin out before sliding across home plate, but Boykin was called safe.
Rutgers reliever Rob Corsi picked up the victory and improved to 4-3 on the year. The southpaw tossed 6.1 scoreless innings out of the Scarlet Knights bullpen. Corsi allowed just four hits and struck out six. He did issue three walks.
Fitzgerald was tagged with cruel loss and dropped to 1-2 on the season. He struck out five and allowed the one run on five hits. Fitzgerald did not issue a walk.
The defeat is a bitter pill to swallow, especially following Seton Hall's sweep of Louisville. Notre Dame (9-11) dropped to ninth in the BIG EAST standings and one-half game behind the Pirates (10-11) with just two weeks left in the regular season. Louisville and Cincinnati, both 11-10, are just 1.5 games ahead of the Irish, while USF (Notre Dame's foe next weekend) is 11-9 with one game left in its series with league-leading UConn. Only the top eight teams in the regular season standings advance to the annual BIG EAST Championship on May 25-29 in Clearwater, Fla.
After Notre Dame tied the score, 2-2, in the top of the seventh inning, the game featured a duel between Corsi and Fitzgerald. The two hurlers kept the game tied for the next seven innings despite numerous scoring chances for both clubs. The Irish stranded 11, while the Scarlet Knights left 18 on the bases.
Notre Dame's best scoring chance in extra-innings came in the top of the 12th inning. Senior 3B Greg Sherry reached via a one-out error, Hudson followed with a single and senior SS Mick Doyle drew a walk to load the bases. Sophomore 2B Frank DeSico followed with a chopper to Rutgers shortstop Pat Sweeney, who chose to throw home. Sweeney's throw one-hopped Scarlet Knights backup catcher Michael Zavala, but he managed to field the difficult throw and remain on the base to force out Sherry.
With the bases still loaded and two down, sophomore CF Charlie Markson struck out on a called third strike.
The Irish did advance the go-ahead run into scoring position in the top of the 14th inning following Hudson's two-out double (his fourth two-bagger of the weekend). Doyle followed with a two-out walk, but DeSico flied out to right field to end the threat.
Rutgers had its fair share of chances to win the game as well. The Scarlet Knights had a leadoff batter reach in each of the ninth, 11th, 12th and 13th, but Fitzgerald worked out of trouble each time.
Sophomore RHP/DH Adam Norton tossed 4.0 scoreless innings of relief. He yielded just two hits and struck out three. Norton, who tossed 6.0 innings of one-run baseball on Tuesday against Michigan, also went 2-for-6 with the game-tying RBI single in the seventh.
Norton and Fitzgerald combined to throw 8.2 scoreless innings of relief until Rutgers plated the winning run in the 14th.
Hudson went 2-for-6 and Doyle went 3-for-4 with a solo home run. The three-hit game for Doyle was his first of the season. The home run also was his first of the year.
The 14-inning contest was the longest for the Irish since they dropped a 16-inning game at USF on May 16, 2008.
Notre Dame will have the week off for finals before opening a critical BIG EAST series against USF at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, May 13 at Frank Eck Stadium. The game can be heard in South Bend on WHME / Harvest 103.1 FM and around the world at UND.com.
As always, please visit UND.com regularly for full coverage of all Notre Dame athletics news and events.