May 17, 2013
CINCINNATI, Ohio - Sophomore RHP Pat Connaughton tossed 6.0 scoreless innings and junior All-American candidate Trey Mancini collected three more hits to lead the University of Notre Dame to a 9-1 victory over the University of Cincinnati Friday night at Marge Schott Stadium. The Fighting Irish improve to 31-22 overall and 10-13 in the BIG EAST, while the Bearcats drop to 23-32 and 5-18.
Mancini extended his hitting streak to a career-best 21 games. He went 3-for-5 with an RBI triple. Mancini has recorded a multi-hit game in 15 of his last 17 outings. He upped his batting average on the year to a BIG EAST-best .403. Junior 3B and All-American candidate Eric Jagielo also collected a three-hit affair. He went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI singles.
Connaughton improved to 3-2 on the season with his third straight scoreless outing. The right-handed hurler has not allowed a run in his last 21.0 innings of work. Connaughton lowered his ERA for the season to 1.96. He struck out four and walked two. Connaughton scattered nine hits over his outing, but made a quality pitch in every big spot.
Connaughton on the other hand cruised over the first couple innings, but worked out of a jam in the Cincinnati third. Taylor Schmidt opened the inning with a single and Justin Glass followed with another hit two batters later but was thrown out trying to advance to second on senior CF Charlie Markson's throw from the outfield. With two outs, Connaughton plunked Ian Happ, who swiped second base to put two base runners in scoring position, but the Irish sophomore got Matt Williams to strikeout looking to end the frame (actually the third straight inning Connaughton collected a punch out looking to end an inning).
After Connaughton worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth, Notre Dame finally broke through in the top of the sixth inning. Senior 2B and co-captain Frank Desico pulled a leadoff double just inside the third-base bag and cruised home on freshman DH Zak Kutsulis' RBI single. Kutsulis moved into scoring position on the throw home and coasted home on Jagielo's RBI base hit. After Mancini flew out to deep centerfield, Jagielo coasted home on sophomore RF Ryan Bull's RBI single that gave the Irish a 3-0 advantage.
The Bearcats threatened in the home half of the sixth. Devin Wenzel and Ethan McAlpine each singled with out to put runners on the corners, but Connaughton collected a strikeout and fly out to end the inning.
Connaughton limited the Bearcats to a .167 average (1-for-6) with runners in scoring position.
Notre Dame extended its lead to 5-0 in the top of the seventh on Jagielo's RBI single and Mancini's RBI triple, but once again had to dance out of trouble the following inning.
Freshman RHP David Hearne replaced Connaughton and got a weak ground ball back to the mound, but his throw sailed high of Mancini at first base for an error. He then plunked the next Bearcat to put two on and nobody out. After Mancini made a terrific defensive stop on a hot shot inside the first-base bag, Hearne issued a walk to loaded the bases, but rebounded with a punch out and fly out to end the inning.
The Irish put the game away with a run in the eighth and three more in the ninth.
DeSico and Markson each went 2-for-4, and sophomore LF Mac Hudgins drove in a pair of a safety squeeze bunt.
Freshman RHP Nick McCarty yielded a leadoff double in the bottom of the eighth, but retired the next six Bearcats to end the game.
Grant Walker was charged with the loss and dropped to 2-4 on the campaign. He surrendered three runs, all earned, on seven hits in 5.0+ innings of work. Walker struck out two and walked one.
Notre Dame moved runners into scoring position with less than two outs in both the second and third innings, but failed to take advantage on either occasion. Mancini opened the second with a single and promptly swiped second base, but Walker got a strikeout of Bull and then back-to-back groundouts to end the inning.
The failed opportunity in the third was much more self-inflicted. Markson and DeSico registered back-to-back singles with one out to put runners on the corners. With the infield playing back and a simple ground ball would give the Irish a 1-0 lead, DeSico was caught ranging too far off the first-base bag and was picked off. Kutsulis followed with a ground ball that would have scored the run had DeSico not been picked off.
Thankfully, neither of those missed opportunities came back to haunt the Irish.
Notre Dame racked up 15 hits on the night. Nine different players had at least one hit and seven different players had at least one RBI.
The Irish and Bearcats close the BIG EAST regular season at 4:00 p.m. Saturday on the CBS Sports Network.