Feb. 17, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG – Junior C Joe Hudson went 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs and four RBI, including a go-ahead solo round tripper in the top of the ninth inning to help Notre Dame outlast defending Big 10 champion Illinois, 13-12, in the season opener for both teams Friday afternoon at Walter Fuller Baseball Complex.
Sophomore Dan Slania picked up the victory out of the Irish bullpen. The right-handed hurler limited the Illini to one run on three hits in 2.1 innings of work. Slania struck out three and walked one.
Illinois reliever Luke Joyce was charged with the loss. The southpaw surrendered two runs on three hits in 2.1 innings. Joyce fanned one and walked a pair.
Sophomore and 2011 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year Trey Mancini went 4-for-5 with a home run, three runs scored and three RBI. Sophomore LF Eric Jagielo went 3-for-6 with an RBI single. Junior 2B Frank DeSico went 2-for-3 with an RBI, three walks and three runs scored.
Notre Dame racked up 17 hits and eight of the nine starters had at least one.
The game was a seesaw affair from the opening pitch. Notre Dame opened the contest with a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Mac Hudgins, DeSico and Jagielo all singled to lead off the first. Mancini made it 1-0 with a sacrifice fly and Hudson followed with an RBI single.
The Illini immediately answered with a pair of runs in their half of the first inning. Notre Dame starter Sean Fitzgerald issued a leadoff walk and Justin Parr followed with a towering two-run home run.
The Irish struck with four runs in the top of the third inning. Mancini opened the frame with a solo home run, deep over the left field wall. Notre Dame then loaded the bases three batters later before senior SS Tommy Chase pulled a two-run double just inside the third base bag to push the lead to 5-2. DeSico coaxed a bases loaded walk to make it 6-2, but the lead was short-lived.
Illinois drew even, 6-6, thanks to a Parr RBI double and Roper three-run home run.
The Irish responded and regained a two-run lead, 8-6, in the top of the fourth. Mancini ripped a leadoff single and Hudson followed with a two-run home run – his first long ball since May 16, 2010.
Notre Dame increased its lead to 9-6 in the top of the fifth inning. DeSico drew a one-out walk and reached base for the fourth straight plate appearance and eventually came around to score on Mancini’s RBI single.
Illinois came right back with a pair of runs in its half of the fifth to claw within a run, 9-8, but DeSico and Mancini spearheaded another Irish outburst in the top of the seventh. DeSico drew a leadoff walk and Mancini roped his fourth straight hit (third single) to put runners on first and second with one out. Hudson was plunked to load the bases. Ryan Bull was plunked one batter later to push the Notre Dame lead to 10-8. Markson then legged out a possible inning-ending double play ball for an RBI.
Illinois battled back for the fourth time and tied the game, 11-11, with three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning without the benefit of a hit. The Illini used three walks and one hit batter.
Notre Dame regained a 12-11 lead on Jagielo’s RBI single in the top of the eighth inning, but Illinois again tied the game, 12-12, in the bottom half of the frame.
Notre Dame and Illinois combined to plunk 12 batters in the contest, which equals the NCAA record. USF and UCF combined to hit 12 on Apr. 1, 2008, as did Nevada and New Mexico State on Mar. 9, 1997.
The 25 combined runs are the most in an Irish season opener since 1988.
Notre Dame senior LHP Steve Sabatino made his first appearance in a game for the Irish since May 22, 2010. He missed the entire 2010 campaign following Tommy John surgery. Sabatino allowed four runs on two hits in 4.0 innings of work. He fanned three and walked four.
Notre Dame returns to action at 10:00 a.m. ET on Saturday against Iowa. Junior RHP Adam Norton will take the mound for the Irish.
— ND —