May 22, 2013
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Senior RHP Adam Norton tossed his third complete-game shutout of the season to lead the No. 7 seed University of Notre Dame past No. 2 seed Seton Hall, 5-0, in first day action from the 2013 BIG EAST Tournament Wednesday afternoon at Bright House Stadium. The Fighting Irish improve to 32-23 overall, while the Pirates drop to 36-18. Notre Dame will face No. 3 seed Pittsburgh at 1 p.m. Thursday in a winner's bracket matchup.
Norton cooled off one of the hottest teams in all of college baseball. Seton Hall had won 36 of its last 45 games, including 15 of its last 16 outings, but had no answer for Norton. He improved to 10-4 on the season. Norton became the first Irish pitcher to reach the 10-win mark since Aaron Heilman in 2001. He limited Seton Hall to a mere seven hits, five of which came with two outs, and nine total base runners. Norton struck out seven and registered Notre Dame's first complete-game shutout in the BIG EAST tournament since Dan Stavisky blanked St. John's on May 17, 1996.
Senior 2B and co-captain Frank Desico, junior 3B and BIG EAST player of the year Eric Jagielo and junior 1B Trey Mancini all collected multi-hit games. Mancini extended his hitting streak to a school-record 23 games, while DeSico scored a pair of runs and Jagielo drove in a pair. Sophomore DH Blaise Lezynski also added a two-run home run in the sixth inning.
AHHH, NORTON, YOU'RE THE GREATEST
(Clearwater, FLA) - When the future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux was wrapping up his career with the Cubs, the current Hall of Famer, Vin Scully was marveling at another vintage Maddux performance against the Dodgers.
"He might as well bring chalk and a blackboard out there, the way he's pitching," noted Scully as Maddux went to 0-2 against a hitter. And on the called third strike, Scully finished the point with " Ahh, yes. Hand them all a diploma. They are graduating tonight ."
School may be out for summer, but class was in session here this afternoon. A bearded professor of pitching named Adam Norton (B.A., Notre Dame, 2013) took Seton Hall to school once again. With the precision of an instructor with a laser pointer, Norton once again showed the Pirates how it's done with a 5-0 complete game victory in the opening round of the Big East tournament.
He traded in the tweed jacket for a gray sleeveless uniform, but the demonstration was clear. Lesson 1: Get ahead. Norton went to 3-0 on the first batter of the game, Seton Hall's Zack Granite. Two fastballs for strikes and a fly out later, Norton would never again hit three balls on a count in the game, worse yet walk anyone. In the 31-1/3 innings Norton threw in his career against the Pirates, no one walked the plank or the baseline.
Lesson 2: Put the pitch where you want. If catcher Forrest Johnson could have put his mitt on a stand and walked away, he could have enjoyed a leisurely day in the tiki hut in left field. Norton worked the corners of the plate so much, it might have been round by the time he was done. It went so badly for Seton Hall senior Mike Genovese that after watching two called third strikes earlier in the game, Genovese was allowed to do his watching from the dugout the rest of the day. Norton fanned seven with no walks, only possibly regretting two plunked batters just to show even an old master isn't perfect.
Lesson 3: Trust in those around you. The Norton curriculum employs nothing but strikes, so hitter will put a lot of balls in play. Lane Richards looked like Baryshnikov, pirouetting in short center field to throw out Giuseppe Pappacioon a bouncer up the middle in the 2nd. Ryan Bull and CharlieMarkson went diving for acrobatic catches in right and center respectively. And through it all, Norton stood stoically on the mound, like a ringmaster in the middle of the circus, conducting his business as usual.
Lesson 4: Keep your cool. On this hot May day, where the humidity and temperature may have matched in the low 80s, Norton showed no sweat. Even in the 9th, with his pitch count rising and runners at first and second, Norton kept his poise. The count was 2-1 on pinch hitter Tyler Boyd, and with a glance at the bullpen, Norton may have seen Dan Slania up and throwing. Rubbish! A good teacher makes sure the lesson is complete. Norton made Boyd roll over on a bouncer to second, where Frank Desico started Notre Dame's 50th double play of the year. Then Norton calmly worked over designated hitter Ryan Sullivan with a 1-2 fastball. Swing and a miss. Class, and the Pirates, dismissed.
Adam's mother is a school teacher in Highland, Indiana.He told me last night she'll still have her third graders in sessionfor a few more weeks...that's why his folks couldn't make it here today. One can only hope the young professor has a few more hitters to educate this year, but that likely will be up to his teammates. If indeed, the bearded wonder has pitched his final game in an Irish uniform, I can assure Jerry and Julie that their son not only received a good education at Notre Dame, he gave one as well.
Notre Dame jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. DeSico roped a 2-2 offering from Seton Hall starter Jon Prosinski that one-hopped the left-field wall for a leadoff double. He moved into scoring position on sophomore LF Mac Hudgins' sacrifice bunt and cruised home on Jagielo's RBI single right back up the middle.
Norton did not walk a batter for the fourth start this season. In fact, Norton went to a three-ball count once the entire contest and it came against the first batter of the game. He uncharacteristically fell behind Zack Granite, 3-0, but rebounded with back-to-back strikes and ultimately got Granite to fly out to centerfield. Norton then retired the next five Seton Hall batters to remain perfect through the first two innings.
Ryan Sullivan opened the third inning with a single off Norton, but the Irish right-handed hurler sent down the next three Pirates to end the inning. Norton worked out of a jam in the fourth, runners on the corners with two outs, preceding a called third strike against Mike Genovese.
Jagielo struck again in the top of the fifth inning. He laced an RBI double to left field that pushed the Notre Dame lead to 2-0.
Norton worked around a two-out single in the bottom of the fifth and Lezynski delivered a towering two-run bomb in the top of the sixth inning that added a couple of insurance runs. The blast was his second of the season and sailed completely out of the ballpark.
Now leading Seton Hall, 4-0, Norton yielded back-to-back two-out base hits in the bottom half of the sixth, but got a fly out to keep the shutout intact. He cruised through the seventh and again yielded a harmless two-out single in the eighth.
Notre Dame extended its lead to 5-0 following an RBI single from Mancini in the ninth, which was more than enough for Norton. He did allow a leadoff single and then plunked a batter in the final inning, but a double-play ground out and strikeout ended the game.
Norton improved to 3-0 in his career against Seton Hall, including victories in each of the last two BIG EAST tournament matchups, and lowered his ERA against the Pirates to a miniscule 1.44. He struck out 20 and failed to walk a single Seton Hall batter in 31.1 career innings of work.
Prosinski took the loss for the Pirates and dropped to 7-4 on the year. The first-team all-BIG EAST selection was roughed up for 10 hits and four earned runs in 5.1 innings. Prosinski struck out one and did not walk a batter.