Sophomore Mick Doyle.

Irish Falls To UIC, 10-5

April 28, 2009

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – UIC exploded for five runs in the seventh inning to break open a one-run game and cruised to a 10-5 victory over Notre Dame at Frank Eck Stadium Tuesday night. The Flames hammered out 13 hits, five for extra bases, and benefited from six walks, four hit batters, four wild pitches and a balk from the Irish pitching staff.

The Flames roughed up reliever Steven Mazur (Round Rock, Texas) in the seventh for five runs on five hits. Chris Rutta had the big blast of the inning, a mammoth three-run home run to left, his fourth of the season in just 46 at bats. In his first two innings pitched, Mazur retired all five batters he faced and threw just 14 pitches. In the seventh, he threw 24 pitches and retired one of the six batters he faced.

Michael Heesch (4-0) picked up the win for UIC (18-19), tossing 4.0 innings of relief and giving up just one run. Sophomore Evan Danieli (East Hanover, N.J.) took the loss (0-1) for Notre Dame in his first action since February 22. He gave up two runs on two hits in 0.1 innings, walking two and striking out one.

Senior Sam Elam (Mesquite, Texas) started for Notre Dame and worked 3.2 innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on three hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Elam struggled with command, throwing 104 pitches, hitting three batters, and throwing two wild pitches. All of this came after Elam struck out five of the first eight batters he faced. He has now struck out 28 batters in 18.2 innings this season (13.5 per nine innings) and 74 in 63.2 innings in his career (10.5 per nine innings).

Sophomore Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Illinois) led the Irish offense, going 3-for-4 with a run scored and RBI. Junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) went 2-for-5, and junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Doyle extended his hitting streak to nine games, batting .531 (17-for-32) during that stretch with six runs scored and 11 RBI. Pollock also continued his hot hitting and is now 7-for-13 over the past three games.

Nathan Orf and Jason Ganek each went 3-for-5 with two RBI for the Flames. Jake Carr had a home run, two RBI, and two runs scored, and Rutta homered and drove in three.

Junior Andrew Scheid (Highlands Ranch, Co.) was effective in relief for the Irish (25-17), closing out the game with 3.0 scoreless innings. Scheid struck out two, walked one and gave up two hits.

The Irish threatened in the second inning but came away without a run. Doyle walked with one out, and Mills followed with a ground ball in the hole in short. UIC shortstop Andy Leonard elected to try for the out at second, but Doyle beat the throw, giving the Irish two aboard with one out. Flames starter Peter Ifft escaped damage by striking out Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.) and retiring Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) on a fly ball to center.

Elam got off to a strong start, striking out five in his first trip through the order, including the side in the second inning. In the third, he hit Steve McGuiggan with one out (the first hit batter of the season for Elam). Elam then threw to first as McGuiggan took off for second, but Martin’s throw to second was late, giving McGuiggan the stolen base. McGuiggan was not so fortunate in his bid to steal third after Brandon Harwell walked; he broke while Elam was still set and was easily thrown out, his first caught stealing of the year in 15 attempts. Harwell advanced to second on the play, however, and scored the first run of the game when Orf lined a double over the head of Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) in left field.

The Irish answered back quickly in the bottom half of the inning. Ifft plunked Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) with the second pitch of the inning and promptly balked him to second with Pollock at the plate. Pollock was unable to advance the runner, but Tate followed with a single to center to plate Sherry and tie the game at 1-1. Tate advanced to second on Ifft’s second balk of the inning and to third on Jeremy Barnes’ (Garland, Texas) single to center.

David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) then hit a grounder to third, and Ganek threw home in an effort to retire Tate, but Tate raced back to third and beat the throw to load the bases with one out. Doyle followed with a routine to fly ball to right that would have been his BIG EAST-leading seventh sacrifice fly on the year, but Rutta slipped on the wet grass in his effort to make the play, with everybody advancing one base on the single. Mills put the Irish up 3-1 with a line drive single to right. Casey stopped at third on the play, but slipped trying to return to the bag and was thrown out, and Martin flew out to left to end the inning.

The Flames tied the game in the fourth in another eventful inning. Carr walked to begin the inning, and one out later advanced to second on a balk (the third of the game) and to third on a wild pitch. Ganek drove Carr home with a single past a diving Martin at first, making the score 3-2 in favor of Notre Dame. Elam then walked Rutta, and both runners took off on a double steal with Tony Altavilla at the plate. McConnell made a good throw to third, but Doyle dropped the ball for an error. Elam then hit Altavilla to load the bases with one out. After striking out McGuiggan on a full count pitch, Elam hit Harwell to force in a run and tie the game, 3-3, prompting a pitching change. Danieli, making his first appearance since the third game of the season, relieved Elam and fell behind 3-0 to Orf, but rebounded to strike him out looking to end the inning to keep the game tied.

Danieli fell behind to the first two batters he faced in the fifth, and this time the Flames made him pay. He walked Leonard on four pitches, and Carr followed with his team-leading fifth home run of the season, an opposite field shot on a 3-1 pitch, giving UIC the lead, 5-3. Brett Schaefer followed with a walk and Ganek lined a single to right, giving the Flames runners on first and third with nobody out and chasing Danieli from the game. Mazur relieved Danieli and ended the inning on just three pitches without a run crossing the plate. Rutta lined the first pitch he saw from Mazur to Pollock in center, who gunned down Schaefer trying to score on a perfect one-hop throw to the plate, and Altavilla followed with a fly ball to left to end the inning, with the score remaining 5-3 in favor of UIC. Danieli and Mazur combined to strand five inherited runners, allowing none to score.

The Irish added one to close the lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the inning. Casey and Doyle singled with one out. After Michael Heesch relieved Ifft, Martin lined a two-out single up the middle to plate Doyle. A walk to McConnell loaded the bases, but Sherry grounded to second to end the threat.

Notre Dame returns to action tomorrow night against Bowling Green at Frank Eck Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.

— ND —