March 30, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame wasn’t able to overcome an early four-run deficit as Cincinnati held on for a 4-3 victory in the rubber game of their BIG EAST Conference series at Frank Eck Stadium Sunday afternoon. The Irish drop to 13-9-1 overall and 4-2 in the league, while the Bearcats improve to 12-10 and 4-2.
Notre Dame did not go quietly in the bottom of the ninth inning. After Jake Geglein retired the first two Irish batters, sophomore David Mills (Battlecreek, Mich.) reached with a seeing-eye single and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Sophomore A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) then reached on a check-swing, infield single that Cincinnati third baseman Mike Spina tried to bare-hand, but when Spina wasn’t able to scoop the roller Mills ran through the stop sign of Irish head coach Dave Schrage at third base. Bearcat shortstop Chris Peters scooped up the ball and threw home where catcher Ryan Baker made an acrobatic play to catch the high throw and tag out a hard-charging Mills to end the game.
Geglein picked up his fourth save of the season for Cincinnati. The right-handed hurler, who had not allowed an earned run on the season entering the day, yielded one earned run on five hits in 3.2 innings of relief. He struckout five and did not issue a walk.
Tyler Smith (2-2) earned the victory with 5.0 effective innings of work. He did surrender seven hits, but only allowed two earned runs. He fanned three and walked one.
Irish sophomore Eric Maust (1-1) was charged with the loss. Despite entering the outing with only five walks in 23.1 innings this season and just 12 in 67.2 innings over his career, he issued a quartet of free passes (all of which came around to score) over his 2.0+ innings. Maust (Alpharetta, Ga.) was charged with four earned runs on three hits. He had never walked more than two batters in an outing over his previous 24 career appearances, including five starts.
Notre Dame wasted a pair of stellar relief appearances from freshman Cole Johnson (Hudson, Ohio) and junior Kyle Weiland (Albuquerque, N.M.). Johnson and Weiland combined to blank Cincinnati over the final 7.0 innings of the game. Johnson tossed 5.1 scoreless innings, while Weiland followed with 2.2 innings of hitless relief. Johnson scattered six hits over his outing.
Pollock and Mills led the Notre Dame offensive attack. Pollock went 4-for-5 with an RBI and run scored. The centerfielder has a pair of four-hit games in his last four starts. Mills went 3-for-5 with an RBI.
The Irish continued to claw into the Cincinnati advantage with another run in the bottom of the seventh inning to make the score, 4-3. Freshman Greg Sherry (Mendam, N.J.) opened the frame with a single, moved into scoring position on Geglein’s balk, advanced to third on senior Brett Lilley’s (North Canton, Ohio) ground out and scored on Mills’ RBI single, but the Bearcat closer would get Pollock and junior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) to end the inning.
Notre Dame cut the Bearcat deficit in half in the bottom of the sixth inning. Pollock ripped a leadoff single (his third on the afternoon) and Sharpley brought the Irish within two runs, 4-2, with a RBI double off the base of the left center field wall, but once again wasn’t able muster more than a run. Junior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) ripped a 1-0 offering from Cincinnati reliever Brian Sand, but directly at center fielder Tony Campana. After senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) walked to put runners on first and second with one out, senior Sean Gaston (Brownsburg, Ind.) fouled out and sophomore Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) struck out looking.
The Bearcats used a pair of walks from Maust (the first two Cincinnati batters of the game) to grab a 2-0 first inning lead. After Campana stole second on his own and Campana and Jamel Scott advanced on a double steal, Kevin Johnson came through with a two-run single. Maust evaded any further damage getting a strikeout and line-out double play to end the threat.
Cincinnati pushed its lead to 3-0 when Campana plated Justin Riddell with a two-out RBI single. Riddell reached base following a one-out walk.
After issuing a leadoff walk in the top of the third inning, Maust was relieved by Johnson.
The Irish cut into the four-run Cincinnati lead in the bottom of the third inning following three consecutive singles plated one run and left runners on the corners with one out, but Smith was able to work out of any further. Pollock got caught ranging too far off first base and was retired caught stealing before Sharpley struckout to end the inning.
Notre Dame returns to action this week a non-conference game against Western Michigan on Tuesday (5:05 p.m.) and exhibition game against the South Bend Silverhawks (5:30 p.m.) on Wednesday. Each game can heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com.
— ND —