May 12, 2013
QUEENS, N.Y. – The University of Notre Dame managed just two runs in its first two games of the series at St. John’s University, including a heartbreaking 2-1 setback in the opener of Sunday’s doubleheader, but the Fighting Irish registered season highs in both hits and runs en route to a 16-7 victory of the Red Storm to salvage the finale at Jack Kaiser Stadium. Notre Dame improves to 29-21 overall and 9-12 in the BIG EAST, while St. John’s drops to 22-31 and 9-12.
After the Irish collected nine hits in the first two games of the series, Notre Dame racked up 18 in the series finale. Junior 1B and All-American candidate Trey Mancini went 4-for-6 with a double, RBI and two runs scored. He extended his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games. Mancini has now collected multiple hits in 12 of the last 13 games for the Irish. He raised his batting average to a BIG EAST-best .394.
Freshman SS Lane Richards went 4-for-5 with a double, triple, two runs scored and a career-high three RBI. Senior 2B and co-captain Frank Desico, freshman DH Zak Kutsulis and sophomore RF Ryan Bull all chipped in two hits apiece. DeSico had a double, runs scored and RBI. Kutsulis scored three runs and drove in one, while Bull had a run scored and two RBI. Junior 3B and All-American candidate Eric Jagielo went 1-for-4 with a run scored and three-run double.
Junior RHP Sean Fitzgerald upped his record to 5-3 with his third straight victory. He limited St. John’s to a pair of earned runs on four hits in 5.0 innings of work. Fitzgerald fanned one and walked one.
Junior RHP and All-American candidate Dan Slania picked up his league-leading 12th save of the season. He allowed five runs, three earned, on seven hits in 4.0 innings of work. Two of the base hits were fly balls that Irish fielder’s lost in the sun and a third was a routine ground ball that took a wicked hop over Richards at shortstop.
The Red Storm cut Notre Dame’s lead to 9-5 with three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. St. John’s had the bases loaded and two outs when DeSico made an incredible diving stop that not only ended the inning, but also saved at least a run and more-than-likely two runs.
The Irish rode the momentum of DeSico’s stellar play and exploded for seven runs on five hits in the top of the ninth to put the game away. The seven-run inning was a season-high for Notre Dame.
The Irish could have used some of those hits in the first game of the twin bill. After the game was halted with the game tied, 0-0, in the top of the fifth inning, St. John’s plated two runs off freshman RHP Nick McCarty in the bottom of the fifth.
McCarty walked the Red Storm ninth-place hitter Bret Dennis (who was hitting .176) on five pitches and then plunked Pat Talbot on a 1-0 offering. After a sacrifice bunt moved both into scoring position, Zach Lauricella pulled an RBI single through the left side and Frank Schwindel ripped an RBI base hit up the middle to give St. John’s a 2-0 lead.
Ryan Horstman retired the first eight Notre Dame batters before Mancini crushed a solo home run to right field to bring the Irish within a run, 2-1. He then sent down the next seven before Notre Dame threatened in its half of the ninth inning.
Jagielo singled to right field and Mancini singled to left field. With runners on the corners and two outs, Horstman got Bull to strikeout looking on a pitch a foot off the plate to end the inning.
Horstman upped his record to 6-5 with the victory. He limited the Irish to a run on three hits. Horstman struck out four and did not issue a walk.
Junior RHP Donnie Hissa tossed 2.2 scoreless innings of relief. Sophomore RHP Pat Connaughton did not factor in the decision but tossed 4.0 scoreless innings nonetheless. He struck out five and walked two.
Notre Dame returns to action at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Western Michigan.