Freshman third baseman Adam Norton equals his career-best with three hits.

Irish Drop Second Game Of Series With Rutgers

April 10, 2010

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Pat Biserta and Michael Lang each collected two of Rutgers’ seven home runs as the Scarlet Knights took advantage of fierce winds blowing out to power past the Irish, 25-5, in baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Saturday afternoon. Biserta upped his conference-leading home run total to 12 and drove in four, while Lang finished with seven RBI and Ryan Kapp added five RBI.

The loss snaps Notre Dame’s 10-game home winning streak over Rutgers.

Sophomore Steve Sabatino (2-4) shouldered the loss in the shortest outing of his career, lasting 2.2 innings and giving up eight earned runs. Sabatino had worked at least 5.0 innings in five straight starts, and in his only other start this season he worked 3.0 innings of no-hit ball against Mississippi Valley State. Nine of the 13 base runners he allowed (including all four walks) reached with two outs, leading to seven two-out tallies. In all, Rutgers (16-13, 6-2 BIG EAST) used 13 two-out hits to register 18 two-out RBI.

The Irish bullpen fared no better, as senior Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) and junior Ryan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) combined to give up seven runs in 2.1 innings, while sophomore Ryan Richter (South Bend, Ind.) gave the Irish 3.0 innings in which the Scarlet Knights scored 10 times. Rutgers pounded out eight extra base hits off of Richter alone and 14 total in the game.

Starter Casey Gaynor (4-3) gave up five earned runs in 7.0 innings to notch the victory. The senior finished with six strikeouts, including the 200th of his career; he ranks second in Rutgers history to Bobby Brownlie (235) in that category.

Freshmen second baseman Frank Desico (Cleveland, Ohio), freshman third baseman Adam Norton (Highland, Ind.) and senior first baseman Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.) all had multi-hit efforts for the Irish (11-18, 2-6), with Norton and Martin each picking up three (Norton’s three matched his career-high). Senior left fielder Ryan Connolly (Binghamton, N.Y.) extended his streak of reaching base (via base hit, walk, or hit-by-pitch) to 41 games, as he walked in the second inning and was plunked in the fourth. He failed to reach base in his first at bat, marking the first time all season Connolly has been retired in his first plate appearance (excluding sacrifice bunts) in consecutive games.

Rutgers jumped out to the early 5-0 lead in the first with four two-out runs, two of which came on bases-loaded walks. Sabatino threw half of his 50 pitches in the inning out of the strike zone.

Gaynor gave up back-to-back ground ball singles to begin the second inning and then fell behind 3-0 to Brayden Ashdown (Tucson, Ariz.), but the senior bounced back to punch out Ashdown and Bill Warrender (Collegeville, Pa.) swinging. Not to be outdone, however, the Irish also had some two-out magic in the works. Freshman catcher Joe Hudson’s (Odessa, Fla.) ground ball snuck up the middle to bring home Martin, and then Norton laced a line drive back through the box to plate Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) and make the score 5-2. Connolly extended his streak with a walk to load the bases, and Desico followed with a two-strike, opposite-field base knock to plate two and bring the Irish within one at 5-4.

Brandon Boykin smacked a home run to left in the third to make the count 6-4 in favor of Rutgers, but Sabatino saved a run by picking off Dan Betteridge at first base prior to the long ball. He was not so fortunate later in the frame, though, as Hudson lost Lang’s two-out popup in front of the plate in the sun and Biserta followed by drilling his 11th home run of the season off the batters’ eye in straightaway center field. The homer ended the day for Sabatino, who left with the Irish trailing 8-4.

A seeing-eye RBI single off the bat of Russ Hopkins in the fourth pushed the Rutgers lead to 9-4 before Lang and Biserta notched back-to-back home runs in the next inning to make it 12-4. From then on, 14 more Rutgers hits led to 13 more runs. The Irish made the Scarlet Knights earn every score, though, as all 25 runs were earned runs.

The Irish aim to capture the series tomorrow afternoon in the 12:05 series finale at Frank Eck Stadium. Senior right-hander Eric Maust (0-3, 7.18 ERA) looks to bounce back from the two shortest starts of his career and will square off against freshman left-hander Dan O’Neill (1-0, 5.90) of the Scarlet Knights.

— ND —