Senior Jeremy Barnes.

Irish Baseball Drills Valparaiso, 10-4, For Fifth Straight Victory

March 18, 2009

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame pulled away late for the second consecutive night en route to a 10-4 victory over Valparaiso in college baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Wednesday night. The Irish have now won five consecutive games and improve to 12-5 on the season. The Crusaders drop to 5-10.

Notre Dame, who scored three runs over the final two innings in last night’s come-from-behind victory over Ball State, plated four runs in the bottom of the sixth, one run in the seventh and two more in the eighth to breakup a 3-3 tie and grab an 10-3 lead.

Freshman reliever Ryan Richter (South Bend, Ind.) picked up his first career victory for the Irish. The southpaw (1-0) yielded a pair of hits and walked two, but did not allow an earned run in 2.0 innings of work. Richter retired eight of the 10 batters he faced and lowered his season earned run average to 1.12.

Senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) paced the Notre Dame offensive attack. Barnes went 3-for-5 with a run scored and two RBI. Four other Irish players had multi-hit games, including sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.), junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.), sophomore catcher Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) and sophomore third baseman Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.).

Tate, who went 2-for-2 with a walk, triple and two runs scored last night, went 2-for-5 with two stolen bases and a run scored. Mills went 2-for-4 with a walk, RBI and two runs scored. McConnell went 2-for-2 with a double, RBI and run scored, while Sherry went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored. Junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) went 1-for-3 with a walk, RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases.

Austen Siwiec (0-1) was charged with the loss for Valparaiso. The righty was tagged with three earned runs on three hits with a walk and strikeout.

Freshman Steve Sabatino (Lockport, Ill.) did not factor in the decision, but left the game with Notre Dame holding a 3-1 lead. The southpaw limited the Crusaders to a pair of earned runs on three hits in 5.1 innings of work. Sabatino walked three and struck out four. Mills also tossed 0.2 scoreless innings of relief.

Sabatino struggled a bit with his control over the first three innings, walking two and going to a three-ball count on four other Valparaiso batters, but the southpaw was able to evade any damage. He worked around a leadoff double in the second and a pair of two out walks in the third.

Sabatino ran into some trouble again in the top of the fourth inning. He allowed a leadoff single to Josh Wallace and then walked Justin Frane, but Sabatino retired Andrew Quinnette on a fly out before getting Damon McCormick to ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

Sabatino rode the momentum of the double play and retired the Crusaders in order in the top of the fifth inning on just seven pitches.

The Irish added another run in the bottom of the fifth inning to push their lead to 3-0 due in part to the legs of Pollock. The junior drew a leadoff walk and promptly stole both second and third base before trotting home on junior Casey Martin’s (Chesterton, Ind.) RBI ground out.

Sabatino’s luck finally ran out in the top of the sixth inning. He fanned Kyle Muhlsteff, but the pitch evaded Irish catcher Matt Scioscia (Westlake Village, Calif.) behind the plate and Muhlsteff reached on the wild pitch. Kyle Gaedele then doubled to plate runners at second and third with nobody out. Wallace plated a run with a sacrifice fly to bring the Crusaders within two runs, 3-1.

Sabatino was pulled after the fly out for Richter. The South Bend native issued back-to-back walks to load the bases. Richter then induced a ground ball, but it got underneath the glove of Martin at first base for an error. Gaedele scored on the ground ball, but Frane came around to score after the ball got past Martin to tie the score, 3-3.

Notre Dame jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Mills laced a one-out single to left field and Pollock followed with a single to put runners on first and second. Martin then drove in Mills with an opposite field single, but was thrown out at second base after trying to advance on the throw home. Barnes followed with a RBI double to close the scoring.

Notre Dame returns to Frank Eck Stadium this weekend for a three-game series with BIG EAST foe Seton Hall. First pitch for Friday night’s opener is slated for 5:05 p.m. Sophomore right-handed hurler Cole Johnson will take the mound for the Irish.

— ND —