April 18, 2008
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Notre Dame junior David Phelps (Hazelwood, Mo.) struckout a season-high 10 and limited to the nation’s top hitting team to just three runs as the Irish pushed their winning streak to 11 games with an 8-4 victory over West Virginia Friday night. Notre Dame improves to 24-9-1 overall and 11-2 in the BIG EAST, while the Mountaineers drop to 27-10 and 7-6.
The Irish remain in sole possession of first place with the victory at 11-2, while Cincinnati won its game over Georgetown to stay just one game behind (10-3). St. John’s lost its series opener at Pittsburgh to fall two games behind the Irish.
West Virginia entered the game with a .364 team batting average – tops in NCAA. The Mountaineers had five starters batting over .400, but Phelps limited West Virginia to seven hits and three runs over his 7.0 innings of work. He fanned a season-high 10 and walked just two. Phelps improves to 5-3 on the season.
Freshman Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) went 3-for-3 with an RBI and run scored, while sophomore David Mills (Battlecreek, Mich.), junior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) and sophomore Brayden Ashdown (Tucson, Ariz.) each added a pair of hits. Sharpley drove in two, including his eighth home run of the year. Ashdown scored two runs, while senior Brett Lilley (North Canton, Ohio) scored two runs and reached base via the bit-by-pitch three times.
Senior Tony Langford (Fort Worth, Texas) and junior Kyle Weiland (Albuequerque, N.M.) pitched the eighth and ninth inning. Langford fanned one and got a double play, while Weiland did allow a run in his inning of work.
The Irish grabbed a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in their half of the second inning. After junior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) and senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) drew walks to open the inning and senior Sean Gaston (Brownsburg, Ind.) executed a sacrifice bunt, Ashdown fell behind in the count at 1-2, but fouled off three pitches before grounding out to plate Barnes and give the Irish a 1-0 lead. Sherry followed with a two-out RBI single back up the middle to push the Notre Dame lead to 2-0.
Sharpley then made it 3-0 with his team-leading eighth home run of the season. He hammered a 1-2 pitch from WVU starting pitcher Josh Whitlock deep over the left centerfield wall. All eight of Sharpley’s home runs have gone to center or left field.
Notre Dame took advantage of a couple West Virginia defensive mistakes to extend its lead to 5-0 in the top of the fourth inning. After Ashdown opened the inning with a single and moved into scoring position on Sherry’s sacrifice bunt, Lilley was plunked before Mills reached when Mountaineer centerfielder Austin Markle dropped a fly ball to load the bases. After Pollock was hit to plate a run, Sharpley followed with an RBI single that West Virginia right fielder Austin Parks lost in the lights.
The Mountaineers did scratch a pair of runs off Phelps in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jedd Gyorko led off the frame with a double and came around to score on Markel’s RBI single. With two outs and runners at second and third, Phelps was called for his fifth balk of the season to plate another run and make the score, 5-2.
Notre Dame regained its five-run cushion with a pair of runs on Mills’ two out, two run double to straightaway center field.
West Virginia answered with a run in the fifth inning, but Phelps would settle down and hold the Mountaineers scoreless over his final two innings of work.
Notre Dame returns to action this tomorrow afternoon for the second game of the series with the Mountaineers. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. as senior Wade Korpi (Lake Worth, Fla.) will take the mound. The game can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com.