Junior Matt Grosso.

Irish Baseball Falls To Oakland, 6-5

March 25, 2009

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Oakland used D.J. Jarrad’s go-ahead RBI single with two outs in the top of the eighth inning to secure a 6-5 victory over Notre Dame in college baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Wednesday night. The Irish dropped to 14-8 on the year, while the Golden Grizzlies improved to 6-11.

After Notre Dame tied the game, 5-5, with a three-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, Oakland regained the lead, 6-5, in the top of the eighth inning off freshman Joe Spano (Verona, N.J.). Brett Geschke drew a one-out walk, Notre Dame’s eighth as a pitching staff. Tim Ryan then pinch ran for Geschke. Spano rebounded with a huge strikeout of Justin Wilson before being removed for junior closer Steve Mazur (Round Rock, Texas).

Tim Ryan promptly stole second and third base before coasting home on Jarrad’s two-out RBI single.

The Irish did mount threats in the eighth and ninth inning. Sophomore Matt Scioscia (Westlake Village, Calif.) opened the eighth with a single. Senior Ryan Connolly (Binghamton, N.Y.) pinch ran for Scioscia. Freshman Tommy Chase (Cohasset, Mass.) followed with a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt to move Connolly into scoring position.

Junior Brayden Ashdown (Tucson, Ariz.) was called to pinch hit for freshman Alex Robinson (Dallas, Texas), but Ashdown was pulled for senior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) after the Grizzlies pulled Andrew Estes for Matt LaMothe.

Connolly was then gunned down trying to steal third base on his own. Sharpley eventually walked, but LaMothe struck out junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) to end the inning.

Junior Matt Grosso (Hebron, Conn.) drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the ninth inning, but was retired when senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) grounded into a fielder’s choice. LaMothe fanned sophomore David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) to end the game and register his first career save (LaMothe serves as the Oakland Saturday starter).

Estes picked up the win and improved to 2-0. He allowed a hit and no earned runs in 0.2 innings of work.

Spano (0-1) was credited with the loss. The southpaw allowed three runs, only two earned, on two hits in 3.2 innings. He fanned a pair, but also walked three.

Grosso and Casey were the only two Irish players with more than one hit. They both went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Grosso added an RBI.

The Golden Grizzlies took the first lead of the afternoon in the top of the second inning. Andrew Stafford opened with a double, advanced to third base on freshman Steve Sabatino’s (Lockport, Ill.) wild pitch and raced home on Dan Gilot’s sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.

The Irish answered with a single run of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Barnes drew a one-out walk and moved into scoring position following Casey’s single. Sophomore Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) then walked to load the bases and Scioscia added his own sacrifice fly to tie the score, 1-1.

The game did not stay tied for very long. The Grizzlies regained the lead, 3-1, with a pair of runs on another sacrifice fly and a two-out RBI single from Stafford.

Sabatino left the game after four innings. The southpaw struggled for the first time in his young career. Sabatino was charged with three earned runs on four hits in 4.0 innings, but was really hurt by five free passes. Two of the three runs Sabatino allowed reached base on walks.

Oakland pushed its lead to 5-1 thanks to some sloppy Notre Dame defense. Stafford led off the frame with a single and moved into scoring position following Spano’s balk. After Dan Ryan grounded out, Aaron Wick walked. With runners on the corners and one out, Spano then induced a routine double play grounder to Chase at second base, but the freshman booted the possible inning-ending play, allowing a run to score, and did not register a single out. Eric Ogg then ripped an RBI single to center to plate another run after the inning should have been over.

The Irish scratched across a run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Casey came through with a one-out double and eventually scored on Sherry’s RBI ground out to bring Notre Dame within three runs, 5-2.

Notre Dame finally seemed to solve Oakland starter Greg Welke in the bottom of the seventh inning. After the righty held the Irish to just one earned run on four hits over the first 6.2 innings of work, Notre Dame put together a little two-out magic. Junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) ripped an RBI double down the left field line to score Chase, who opened the inning with a hit-by-pitch, to make the score, 5-3. Grosso then plated Pollock with another two-out base hit to bring the Irish within a run, 5-4.

That would end the day for Welke. Shane McCatty was greeted rudely by Barnes, who hammered a run-scoring triple to tie the score, 5-5.

Welke did not factor in the decision, but pitched well. The right-handed hurler, son of longtime MLB umpire Steve Welke, was charged with five runs, four earned, on six hits in 6.2 innings. He fanned two and walked three.

Notre Dame returns to BIG EAST action this weekend at Pittsburgh. First pitch for Friday’s opener is slated for 3:00 p.m. Sophomore right-handed hurler Cole Johnson will take the mound for the Irish.

— ND —