Sophomore Cole Johnson.

Irish Baseball Smack Seton Hall, 10-4, In BIG EAST Opener

March 20, 2009

Box Score | Box Score (PDF) Get Acrobat Reader

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Senior Jeremy Barnes went 4-for-5 with four RBI and juniors’ David Mills and A.J. Pollock added three hits apiece to pace Notre Dame’s 16-hit attack as the Irish routed Seton Hall, 10-4, in the BIG EAST opener for both schools Friday night at Frank Eck Stadium. Notre Dame extended its winning streak to six games and improved to 13-5 overall and 1-0 in the conference. The Pirates dropped to 8-7 and 0-1.

Barnes (Garland, Texas), who has seven hits over his last two outings, extended his hitting streak to eight games. The shortstop had a two-run double and pair of RBI singles. Barnes has now driven in 22 on the year and raised his batting average to .385.

Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) and Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) not only had three hits each, but they each scored three runs. Mills went 3-for-4 with a walk and two-run single, while Pollock went 3-for-5 with an RBI single.

Senior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) broke through with two extra-base hits. He went 2-for-4 with a double, triple, run scored and RBI.

Sophomore Cole Johnson (Hudson, Ohio) picked up the win and improved to 2-0 on the season. The righty went 7.0 innings and allowed four earned runs on five hits. Johnson struck out six and walked two. He has gone at least 6.0 innings in each of his last three starts.

Notre Dame grabbed a 2-0 lead thanks to the continued clutch hitting from Barnes. Mills legged out an infield single and Pollock followed with a perfectly executed hit-and run to put runners on the corners with one out. After Sharpley fouled out to the third baseman, Barnes ripped the first offering from Seton Hall starter Sean Black into the right centerfield gap for a two-run double.

The Pirates answered in the top of the fourth inning. After Johnson retired the first two Seton Hall batters of the inning on just eight pitches, the right-hander plunked Chris Affinito on a 3-2 pitch. Chris Spagnuolo followed with a single just inside the third base bag to put runners on the corners with two out. Johnson again was just one strike away from ending the inning when Frank Esposito placed a seeing-eye single to left field to bring the Pirates within a couple runs, 3-1. Michael Rogers laced a 3-1 pitch from Johnson into the right centerfield gap that Pollock appeared to have a beat on, but the centerfielder’s diving attempt came up just shy as the ball deflected off his glove and rolled to the wall for a two-run triple.

Seton Hall’s 3-2 lead was short-lived.

Sophomore Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) led off the home half of the fourth inning with a double and moved to third base on sophomore Cameron McConnell’s (Bannockburn, Ill.) fly out. After Black hit sophomore Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.), sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) ripped a run scoring double down the right field line to tie the score, 3-3. Mills followed with a two-run single to give the Irish a 5-3 advantage. Notre Dame pushed its lead to 6-3 when Mills scored all the way from second base on Seton Hall third baseman’s Chris Fontenelli error.

The Irish continued to batter Black in the bottom of the sixth inning. Mills drew a one-out walk and raced home on Pollock’s RBI double. Sharpley followed with his first career triple to right centerfield to give Notre Dame an 8-3 lead. Barnes then plated Sharpley with an RBI single to make it 9-3.

Black (2-2), who many MLB scouts project to be drafted in the first round, was charged with the loss and roughed for nine runs, eight earned, on 12 hits in 6.0 innings of work. The right-handed hurler struck out four and walked two.

Notre Dame returns to action tomorrow afternoon for game two of the series with the Pirates. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Sophomore right-handed hurler Brian Dupra will take the mound for the Irish.

— ND —