Senior Evan Sharpley hit a two-run home run to give the Irish a 4-0 first inning lead.

Irish Baseball Pounds Louisville, 11-5

April 25, 2009

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Notre Dame used home runs from senior Evan Sharpley, junior A.J. Pollock and sophomore Mick Doyle and solid starting pitching from sophomore Brian Dupra to race past Louisville, 11-5, in BIG EAST baseball action from Patterson Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Irish improve to 24-16 overall and 9-8 in the league, while the Cardinals drop to 29-12 and 12-5.

Dupra (Rochester, N.Y.) did not have his best stuff, but battled through 7.1 innings. The righty allowed five earned runs on 12 hits and improved to 5-4 on the season. Dupra walked just one and struck out a pair. He also benefitted from a pair of double play ground out by Louisville. Sophomore Will Hudgins (Richmond, Va.) registered his first career save. The rookie tossed 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. Hudgins fanned two and walked one.

Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.), Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) and Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) all drove in a pair. Pollock went 3-for-5 with four runs scored, while Doyle went 2-for-5. Sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) went 3-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.

Dean Kiekhefer was charged with the loss and drops to 3-4 on the year. He was charged with two runs, only one earned, on four hits in 4.0 innings of work. Kiekhefer struck out six and walked two.

After falling behind 6-0 after two innings in last night’s series opener and being held scoreless until the sixth inning, Notre Dame wasted little time in jumping on Louisville starting pitcher Thomas Royse to the tune of four first inning runs. Pollock led off the game with a single and raced home on Tate’s RBI triple. Royse did strikeout senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas), but sophomore David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) followed with an RBI double and coasted home on Sharpley’s mammoth two-run bomb to left field.

The blast was Sharpley’s second of the season and first since March 21.The senior first baseman hit a team-best 13 long balls in 2008.

The Cardinals did answer with a long ball of their own in the bottom of the first inning. Andrew Clark belted his sixth home run of the year to bring Louisville within three runs, 4-1.

Notre Dame had a golden opportunity to add more runs in the top of the third inning on Kiekhefer. Tate led off the inning with an infield single and Barnes followed with a walk, but Kiekhefer got Casey to ground into a double play and fanned Doyle on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning with Tate at third base.

Dupra retired eight of the next nine batters following Clark’s home run before Louisville drew closer in the bottom of the fourth inning thanks to a familiar name. Phil Wunderlich, who went 3-for-5 with three doubles and four RBI last night, hammered a 2-0 changeup deep over the right field wall for his third home run of the week and 11th of the season. Wunderlich entered the game hitting .643 (9-for-14) with 11 RBI in Louisville’s three games this week.

The Cardinals followed Wunderlich’s bomb with three consecutive hits, including John Dao’s two-run double that tied the score, 4-4. Josh Richmond made it four straight hits, but Dao was gunned down at the plate trying to score by Tate.

The Irish did regain the lead in the top of the fifth inning, but should have probably down more damage. Pollock and Tate each reached on infield singles before Barnes hammered a RBI double off the right centerfield wall scoring Pollock, but Tate did not get a good read on the drive and was only able to advance to third base. With both Tate and Barnes in scoring position, Casey struck out looking, the sixth time a Notre Dame player went down looking, and Doyle grounded out to third base to end the inning.

Dupra made the one-run lead stand until the Irish were finally able to sniff Kiekhefer in the top of the seventh inning. Sophomore Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) drew a leadoff walk, but was retired following Pollock’s fielder’s choice. Tate then executed a sacrifice bunt to move Pollock into scoring position for Barnes.

The senior shortstop ripped a 3-2 pitch off the glove of Chris Dominguez at third to plate Pollock to give Notre Dame a 6-4 lead. After Casey was plunked, Doyle made it 7-4 with an RBI single back up the middle.

Dupra then worked around a leadoff bloop double by Louisville in the bottom of the seventh inning. He got Duvall to pop out and then induced an inning ending double play off the bat of Clark.

Notre Dame plated a pair of huge insurance runs in the top of the eighth inning. Sophomore Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) singled to right field with one out and moved into scoring position on Sherry’s sacrifice bunt.

Pollock stepped to the plate and delivered. A day after Louisville stayed with a lefty to pitch to Pollock and the junior hammered a game tying three-run home run, the Cardinals went to the pen and called on right-handed hurler Neil Holland. Pollock promptly crushed a 1-0 offering deep over the left field wall for his sixth home run of the campaign, giving the Irish a 9-4 advantage.

Wunderlich continued his assault of the Notre Dame pitching staff in the bottom of the eighth inning with a one-out, solo home run to cut the Irish lead to 9-5. Wright followed with a single and Arnold walked before Hudgins replaced Dupra with runners on first and second with one out, but the rookie sidewinder got Alec Lowry to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Notre Dame pounded another Louisville reliever in the top of the ninth inning. Doyle crushed his second home run of the season and Ashdown ripped an RBI triple into the gap to push the Irish lead to six runs, 11-5.

The Irish and Cardinals return to action with the third and final game of the series Sunday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m. Junior Eric Maust will take the mound for Notre Dame.

— ND —