April 25, 2004
PITTSBURGH – The Notre Dame baseball team found itself in unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory on Sunday, dropping both ends of a doubleheader at BIG EAST Conference foe Pittsburgh at Trees Field. The fourth-ranked Irish bowed by scores of 8-6 and 7-6, giving Notre Dame a 32-8 record this season (12-5 in the BIG EAST). It marked only the fifth time in nine years that the Irish had been swept by a BIG EAST opponent.
Sophomore designated hitter Matt Bransfield homered in both games on Sunday, giving him a team-high 10 circuit clouts this year. Junior third baseman Matt Macri and sophomore outfielder Craig Cooper also went deep in the second game for Notre Dame.
In that nightcap, the Irish got strong pitching from junior Grant Johnson (4.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 6 K) and senior Joe Thaman (3.1 IP, 2 BB, 1 K), turning the ball and a 6-3 lead over to sophomore Ryan Doherty, who had converted each of his seven previous save opportunities. However, Pittsburgh rallied and scored four times in the bottom of the ninth to pull out the victory.
With Sunday’s twin losses, coupled with Rutgers losing twice to St. John’s, the BIG EAST race tightened up considerably over the weekend. Rutgers now leads the conference at 13-4 (.765), followed by Pittsburgh at 10-4 (.714), with Notre Dame and St. John’s tied for third at 12-5 (.706). The BIG EAST standings are measured by winning percentage with the top four teams qualifying for the conference tournament.
Notre Dame returns to the diamond Tuesday for a 6:05 p.m. (EST) matchup with Ball State at Frank Eck Stadium.
— ND —
NOTE: Due to travel restrictions, a complete recap of Sunday’s doubleheader at Pittsburgh will be posted later this evening.