May 19, 2012

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STORRS, Conn. – Four Notre Dame hurlers combined for a seven-hit shutout and 4-0 victory of Connecticut on Friday night. The Huskies returned the favor as four of their pitchers collaborated on a seven-hit shutout and 4-0 triumph over the Irish Saturday afternoon at J.O. Christian Field. Notre Dame concluded the regular season with a 29-25 overall mark and 14-13 record in the BIG EAST, while UConn improved to 29-25-1 and 16-11.

The Irish will enter next week’s 2012 BIG EAST Tournament as the No. 7 seed. Notre Dame will play at 1 p.m. on Wednesday against No. 2 seed St. John’s.

Freshman RHP Carson Cross made his first career start, picked up the victory and improved to 3-1 on the year. He tossed 5.1 scoreless innings of work and allowed just three singles. Cross struck out five and walked a pair.

Junior RHP Adam Norton dropped to 4-5 on the season with the defeat. He scattered six hits and three runs, all earned. Norton struck out five and walked an uncharacteristic two. It marked the first outing this season (14 starts) in which he walked more than one batter. Norton had issued just five free passes (two of which intentional) over his 85.2 innings entering Saturday.

Sophomore 3B Eric Jagielo was the lone Irish player with more than one hit. He went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.

Notre Dame had a handful of scoring chances, but was simply unable to deliver with runners on base. The Irish had the leadoff runner reach base in five of the first seven innings and each of the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh, but wasted each opportunity.

The trio of sophomore RHP Donnie Hissa, senior LHP Joe Spano and sophomore RHP Dan Slania combined to allow one earned run on four hits over 2.2 innings of work.

The Irish bullpen had not allowed an earned run in their last 19.0 innings of BIG EAST action, including 10.2 shutout innings this weekend against the Huskies before Connecticut’s second run in the sixth.

Connecticut struck first in the bottom of the first inning. After Billy Ferriter and Tim Martin collected back-to-back singles to open the frame, Norton struck out L.J. Mazzilli, but both Ferriter and Martin moved up on a double steal. He then issued an “unintentional-intentional” walk to Ryan Fuller to load the bases. Tom Verdi fouled out and Norton quickly got ahead of Stanley Paul 0-2, but plunked him on a 1-2 offering that gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead.

Connecticut pushed its lead to 2-0 in the bottom of the third. Norton issued his second free pass of the game and second to Fuller with one out. Verdi followed with a perfectly executed hit-and-run single. With the infield in, Paul slapped a chopper just over the head of Norton for an RBI ground out.

Notre Dame did get a pair of base runners in the top of the first inning following a freshman DH Ryan Bull walk and Jagielo single, but Cross got sophomore 1B Trey Mancini and junior C Joe Hudson to end the threat.

Cross sent down the Irish 1-2-3 in each of the second and third innings.

Jagielo led off the fourth inning with a single, which ended the streak of eight straight retired Notre Dame batters, but Cross retired Mancini and Hudson again with runners on base and then struck out senior RF Alex Robinson to end the fourth.

After Norton settled down and cruise through the bottom of the fourth, the Irish mounted a threat in the top of the fifth. Junior CF Charlie Markson drew a leadoff walk and promptly stole second base. Cross fell behind in the count, 3-1, to freshman LF Mac Hudgins but got the rookie to fly out to left field. He then struck out both senior SS Tommy Chase and junior 2B Frank DeSico looking to end the inning.

Meanwhile, the Huskies doubled their lead with a pair of runs in the sixth thanks to some two-out magic. After Norton picked up his fifth strikeout of the contest, John Sulzicki pulled a 0-2 offering from Norton into right field for a single, which ended the afternoon for Norton.

Hissa plunked Joe Pavone, Notre Dame’s third hit batter of the contest, and all three came on two-strike pitches. Hissa then got Ferriter to foul out, but Martin and Mazzilli followed with back-to-back two-out RBI singles to give the Huskies a 4-0 advantage.

Connecticut managed just three RBI base hits the entire series and all three went to left field. The Irish allowed just six runs on the weekend and the other three scored on a passed ball, hit by pitch and ground out.

Unfortunately, Notre Dame managed just five runs over the weekend and only two RBI base hits. The Irish added their other two runs on a pair of sacrifice flies.

Notre Dame returns to action on Wednesday at Bright House Networks Field for its opening game of the 2012 BIG EAST Tournament. In-game updates will be available on Twitter at @NDBaseball and Facebook at NDBaseball, and fans can listen to all the action locally on 103.1 FM and on the Internet at