April 18, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior Eric Maust (Alpharetta, Ga.) threw a complete game shutout, the first of his career, as the Irish blanked BIG EAST leader West Virginia, 3-0, in the second game of a doubleheader at Eck Stadium Saturday night. The complete game was the second of the day for the Irish, as Brian Dupra went the distance in game one. It was the second time this season that the Irish have recorded back-to-back complete game victories, with the first two coming against Villanova at Eck Stadium on April 3-4 (Cole Johnson and Dupra).
Notre Dame improved to 22-14 overall and 8-7 in the BIG EAST, while West Virginia drops to 28-9, 11-4.
Maust (5-2) allowed just five hits (all singles) and one walk, striking out two in a 114-pitch effort. Maust did not allow more than one base runner in any inning, and no West Virginia runner advanced past second base in the game. The shutout lowered Maust’s season ERA from 5.40 to 3.93.
West Virginia, who entered the game batting .368 (third best in the nation) and scoring 10.2 runs per game, was shutout for the first time this season and recorded a season-low five hits. Their previous low hit total had been eight versus Siena on March 14. The last team to shutout the Mountaineers was Connecticut on May 13, 2007, a span of 94 games. West Virginia also lost back-to-back games for the first time since February 21-22 (the second and third games of the season).
The complete game was the second of Maust’s career and his first nine-inning complete game; Maust’s other complete game came against Texas Pan-American on March 15 of this year, a seven-inning game (also the second game of a doubleheader). The Irish have now recorded seven complete games on the year, six of which have come in the past 14 games. Notre Dame tossed just one complete game last season (in a rain-shortened game) and nine in the 2006-08 seasons combined.
Sophomore David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) and sophomore Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) each had two hits for the Irish, with junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) walking twice and reaching base three times. Casey has now hit safely in ten straight starts, with eight multiple-hit games over that span, and is now batting .407 on the season.
Dan DiBartolomeo and Vince Belnome each went 2-for-4 for the Mountaineers. DiBartolomeo batted .500 in the series (7-for-14) with three doubles and four runs scored.
Notre Dame got off to a good start again in game two, plating two in the bottom of the first. After falling behind 0-2, sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) worked the count full and then laced a double into the left-center field gap. Senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) worked a walk, and Casey followed with a line drive single to right, his fifth hit of the series, to score Tate. Mills then hit a ground ball single through the left side to plate Barnes and put the Irish up early, 2-0.
The Irish threatened in the second when junior Ryne Intlekofer (Moorpark, Calif.) banged a one-out triple off the wall in the right field, his second triple of the year, but West Virginia starter Billy Gross escaped damage. He induced A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) to pop out, and Tate followed with a line drive off the foot of Gross, but the ball caromed to third baseman DiBartolomeo, who threw out Tate in a bang-bang play at first.
Starting after punting five times for 187 yards (including two inside the 20 yard line) in the Blue-Gold game earlier in the afternoon, Maust gave up hits in the first four innings. However, all were singles, and Maust was pitch efficient, needing just 47 pitches through four.
In the sixth, Gross walked leadoff batter Mills on four pitches and Doyle followed with a hit-and-run single to left, putting runners on first and third with none out. Gross was lifted in favor of reliever Chris Enourato, who got junior Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.) to ground into a double play, but Mills scored on the play to make the score 3-0.
Enourato closed out the game by pitching three scoreless innings and striking out two, lowering his ERA to 1.69 in 34.1 innings of relief work.
Next up for the Irish is a home-and-home series with the Michigan Wolverines. Notre Dame travels to Ann Arbor on Tuesday for a 7:00 game and Wolverines visit Notre Dame on Wednesday, with the first pitch slated for 6:05 p.m.