April 1, 2011
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Pittsburgh rallied in the bottom of the eighth inning for five runs on six hits and one critical Notre Dame error to grab a 6-5 victory over the Irish on Friday afternoon at Charles L. Cost Field. Notre Dame dropped to 10-13-1 overall and 2-2 in the BIG EAST, while the Panthers improved to 14-9 and 2-2.
Alex Caravella picked up the victory in relief for Pittsburgh and improved to 3-1 on the year. The lefty allowed one earned run on three hits in 2.1 innings of work. Caravella struck out one and walked two.
Freshman RHP Dan Slania took the loss and dropped to 0-2 on the season. He allowed an unearned run on two hits in 0.2 innings of work.
Ray Black picked up his third save of the season for the Panthers.
Fifth-year senior RF Herman Petzold, freshman CF Eric Jagielo and sophomore 2B Frank DeSico all had two hits for the Irish. Petzold went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Jagielo went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and run scored, while DeSico went 2-for-4 with a run scored and three stolen bases.
Notre Dame pushed its lead to 5-1 on Petzold’s RBI single in the top half of the eighth inning. With runners on second and third and two outs, Notre Dame nearly broke the game wide open, but Pittsburgh right fielder Casey Roche robbed senior 3B Greg Sherry of a base hit for the second time of the game. This stellar effort was a diving grab that not only ended the inning, but also prevented the Irish from pushing their lead to 7-1.
With Notre Dame’s lead four runs, 5-1, sophomore RHP Adam Norton (who entered the game with one out in the seventh inning) got a routine ground out to open the Pittsburgh eighth, but the next four Panthers singled, including two base hits that dropped mere steps in front of Irish outfielders. That cut the Notre Dame lead to 5-2 and Pittsburgh still had the bases loaded with only one out.
The final base knock ended the day for Norton. Slania came on and quickly got a routine ground ball to second base, but DeSico’s throw pulled freshman Trey Mancini off the first base bag for an error and another run scored that trimmed Notre Dame’s lead to 5-3.
Zach Duggan then slapped a single back up the middle to plate two more runs and just that quickly, Pittsburgh tied the game at 5-5. John Schultz followed with a bloop RBI single that landed just inside the foul line in short left field, which gave the Panthers their only lead of the game, 6-5.
After Slania got the final two outs of the inning, Notre Dame mounted a rally in the top of the ninth. DeSico and senior SS Mick Doyle drew back-to-back one out walks off Caravella to push the tying run into scoring position.
Pittsburgh called on Black out of the bullpen. The hard-throwing righty walked Jagielo to load the bases with just one out, but struck out Mancini and got senior pinch hitter David Casey to pop out to end the game.
Schultz and Phil Konieczny each had three hits for the Panthers. Travis Whitmore and Rick Devereaux chipped in two apiece.
Lost in the madness of the Pittsburgh eighth inning was another quality start from senior RHP Brian Dupra. The co-captain did not allow an earned run, only one unearned, over his 6.1 innings of work. Dupra scattered eight hits, but also struck out three and walked one. He has now collected a quality start in six of his seven outings in 2011 and lowered his team-best ERA to 1.70.
Notre Dame grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning thanks to some aggressive base running. Mancini drew a leadoff walk and moved into scoring position on senior LF Matt Grosso’s perfectly executed sacrifice bunt. Mancini then scampered to third base on Corey Baker’s wild pitch. After Petzold struck out, sophomore C Joe Hudson drew another walk and promptly took off for second base. When Pittsburgh catcher Kevan Smith threw down to try and retire Hudson, Mancini raced home to give the Irish an early lead.
Notre Dame extended its lead to 2-0 in the top of the third inning following Norton’s solo home run that just cleared the 15-foot wall in left field some 370 feet from home plate. The blast was Norton’s first of the season and second of his career. Each of his two career home runs has come on the road in BIG EAST action. Norton drilled a game-tying, three-run homer in the ninth inning at Georgetown in 2010.
The Irish added to their lead in the third and made it 3-0. Following Norton’s homer, Doyle laced a one-out double down the right field line and ultimately raced home on Smith’s passed ball.
Notre Dame stretched its lead to 4-0 in the fifth. DeSico singled with one out, stole second base and coasted home on Jagielo’s two-out double down the right field line. The two-bagger was Jagielo’s ninth of the season, which ranks second in the BIG EAST.
After working around a walk and base hit in the first inning, Dupra settled down and retired seven straight Panthers before allowing a leadoff single in the fourth. The base hit did not come back to hurt Dupra as he got a fly out, fielder’s choice ground out and line out to end the frame.
The Panthers finally scratched a run off Dupra in the fifth inning, but it took some help from the Irish defense. With two down and a runner at second base, Duggan grounded weakly to third base. Sherry’s throw to end the inning was on the mark, but Mancini dropped the ball for an error. Schultz promptly followed with an RBI single to cut the Notre Dame lead to 4-1.
Pittsburgh definitely tested Dupra in the bottom of the sixth. The Panthers loaded the bases with three consecutive one-out singles, but Dupra issued back-to-back strikeouts (only his second and third of the contest) to end the threat.
Dupra was pulled following a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh.
Norton came on and quickly fell behind in the count to Smith 3-0, but worked the count back to 3-2 with consecutive called strikes. Norton then got Smith to bounce into a 1-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Notre Dame and Pittsburgh will return to action at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday at Charles L. Cost Field. The game will be broadcast live on WHME Harvest 103.1 FM and will be available on-line at UND.com. Live stats will be available on GameTracker.
As always, please visit UND.com regularly for full coverage of all Notre Dame athletics news and events.