May 24, 2012
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Just a day after opening the 2012 BIG EAST Tournament with a run-rule shortened 12-2 loss to No. 2 seed St. John's, No. 7 seed Notre Dame nearly did the same against No. 6 seed Rutgers, but instead settled for a 9-0 shutout in an elimination game Thursday afternoon at Bright House Field. The Irish improved to 30-26, while the Scarlet Knights ended their season at 31-25.
Notre Dame will play No. 3 seed Seton Hall at 3 p.m. Friday in another elimination contest. Junior RHP Adam Norton will take the mound for the Irish.
Senior RHP Will Hudgins tossed 7.0 scoreless innings and limited Rutgers to four hits, three singles, en route to the victory. The co-captain struck out five and improved his record to 5-3 on the season.
Hudgins picked up his ninth quality start of the year and lowered his earned-run average to a miniscule 2.06. He has allowed one earned run or less in 10 of his last 14 outings.
Notre Dame jumped all over nemesis and Rutgers starter Rob Smorol. The Scarlet Knights junior had owned the Irish over the past couple of seasons. Smorol carried a 1.42 ERA over 19.0 innings and four career appearances against Notre Dame, but the Irish tagged the southpaw for seven runs, all earned, on 10 hits in 4.2 innings of work.
Junior CF Charlie Markson, who was moved up in the lineup and into the two-hole prior to the contest, gave Notre Dame a 1-0 advantage with a solo home run in the top of the first inning.
Notre Dame never looked back and Markson was involved all afternoon. He finished the day with a career-best four hits and four runs scored. Markson went 4-for-5 with two RBI and a stolen base.
Sophomore 1B Trey Mancini, junior C Joe Hudson, freshman LF Mac Hudgins and senior SS Tommy Chase all chipped in with two hits apiece. Hudson drove in a pair as did senior RF Alex Robinson. Mancini and Hudgins each went 2-for-4, while Hudson and Chase went 2-for-5.
The last time Notre Dame won a game by at least nine runs one day removed from losing a game by at least 10 runs was 1996. The Irish lost at Illinois, 13-3, on April 23. Notre Dame turned around the next day and defeated St. Norbert, 13-0. The Irish are the first such team to accomplish the feat in the BIG EAST tournament since Villanova in 2008.
Hudgins made his 78th career appearance in a Notre Dame uniform, which ranks fourth in school history. He also improved his career record to 15-4. Hudgins' career winning percentage of .789 is tied for ninth in school history. He will likely be the first Irish starting pitcher to complete a season with an ERA in the neighborhood of 2.00 since David Phelps, now a starting pitcher for the New York Yankees, posted a 1.88 ERA in 2007.
Markson is the first Notre Dame player to score four runs in a BIG EAST tourney game and first Irish player with a four-hit game in the BIG EAST tourney since eventual first round MLB pick and current Arizona Diamondback A.J. Pollock. Pollock went 4-for-5 with a run scored and RBI against Louisville on May 23, 2009.
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