May 21, 2008
CLEARWATER, Fla. – West Virginia did all its damage in just three innings en route to a 13-5 victory over Notre Dame in an elimination game from the 2008 BIG EAST Tournament. The defeat was the eighth straight for the Irish and dropped them to 33-21-1 overall. The Mountaineers improved to 35-20.
West Virginia plated four runs in each of the first two innings before exploding for five in the sixth.
The Irish did get a run in their half of the fourth inning to cut the WVU lead to 8-2, but missed a golden opportunity to a big inning. Freshman Greg Sherry ripped a RBI single to centerfield to score senior Ross Brezovsky, who opened the inning with a single. The Irish then loaded the bases with two outs for sophomore David Mills, but the right fielder struck out to end the inning on a change up in the dirt.
Notre Dame drew closer with another run in the top of the fifth inning, but again stranded a runner in scoring position to deny more damage. Sophomore A.J. Pollock reached on a leadoff walk, moved to second on a ground out, stole third, but was stranded when senior Sean Gaston fouled out.
The Irish again loaded the bases in the sixth inning. Senior Brett Lilley ripped a two-out single before Mills and Pollock were each hit by pitches. Freshman Matt Scioscia quickly got ahead 3-0, but the designated hitter popped out weakly to second base on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning.
Notre Dame went just 2-for-18 with the bases loaded over its final 19 games of the season.
The multiple missed opportunities eventually caught up with the Irish in the bottom of the sixth inning. After junior David Phelps had retired 11 consecutive Mountaineers between the third and sixth inning, he plunked WVU nine-hole hitter Grant Buckner with two outs. Justin Parks, Tyler Kuhn, Jedd Gyorko and Vince Belnome followed with a triple, single, double and double to blow the game wide open, 13-3.
Phelps (5-5) was charged with the loss for Notre Dame. The righty was tagged with 12 earned runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings of work. Phelps struck out three and walked two.
Stephen Morrison (6-3) picked up the victory for West Virginia. The soft-tossing lefty kept Notre Dame off-balance all afternoon in 7.0+ innings. Morrison did give up five earned runs on eight hits and also walked five, but managed to evade a pair of bases loaded situations.
West Virginia wasted little time in grabbing a lead. The first two Mountaineers reached on a double and single. After Phelps punched out Gyorko and walked Belnome, Joe Agreste gave WVU a 1-0 lead with an RBI ground out. Austin Markel then hammered a 1-0 offering from Phelps deep over the right field wall for his ninth home run of the season to make it 4-0.
The Irish did scratch across a run in the top of the second inning. Scioscia led off the frame with a double and eventually scored on Gaston’s sacrifice fly.
West Virginia answered with four more runs in the bottom of the second. The Mountaineers loaded the bases on a pair of hits and a walk before Gyorko, 2008 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, belted a first pitch fast ball out of the park for a grand slam to give WVU an 8-1 cushion.
Junior Jeremy Barnes ripped a one-out triple off the centerfield wall and Gaston followed with a RBI single in the top of the seventh to make it 13-4, but Morrison promptly induced junior Casey Martin into an inning ending double play.
Pollock picked up an RBI in the eighth and sophomore Brayden Ashdown drove in another in the ninth with a pinch hit single to round out the scoring.
The Irish close the 2008 season with a 33-21-1 record. The game also closed the career of the Notre Dame senior class. Lilley, Brezovsky, Gaston, Korpi, Langford, Gingerich and Soriano helped the Irish to a pair of BIG EAST tournament titles (2005, 2006) and two ensuing NCAA Tournament appearances. In all, the group posted a record of 144-90-3 (.614).
— ND —