Freshman RHP Connor Hale picked up his first career victory.

Irish Hold Off Furious Western Michigan Rally For 13-10 Win

May 14, 2013

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The University of Notre Dame used a seven-run fourth inning and took a 13-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, yet Western Michigan University plated eight runs in its last at bat and actually had the potential tying run on deck before the Fighting Irish were able to escape with a 13-10 triumph Tuesday at Robert J. Bobb Stadium. Notre Dame improves to 30-21, while the Broncos drop to 15-36.

On the heels of its season-high 16 runs and 18 hits on Sunday against St. John’s, Notre Dame racked up 15 more base knocks. Junior 1B and All-American candidate Trey Mancini extended his hitting streak to a career-best 19 games. He went 3-for-5 with a double, home run, three runs scored and three RBI. Mancini has registered a multi-hit outing in 13 of the last 14 games for the Irish. He also lifted his batting average to .399 on the season.

Sophomore RF Ryan Bull, and senior 2B and co-captain Frank Desico also collected three hits. Bull went 3-for-4 with a run scored, home run and three RBI. DeSico went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored and three RBI.

Freshman RHP Connor Hale picked up his first career victory for the Irish. He allowed a pair of runs on five hits in 3.0 innings of work. Hale fanned four and walked one. Fellow rookie Michael Hearne registered a perfect 3.0 innings of relief. The southpaw struck out four and retired all nine Western Michigan batters he faced. Freshman RHP David Hearne chipped in with 2.0 scoreless innings of relief.

Will Nimke was charged with the loss for the Broncos. The right-handed hurler was roughed up for eight runs, six earned, on eight hits in 3.1 innings of work. He limited Notre Dame to just one run over the first three innings, but everything turned in the top of the fourth.

The Irish, who trailed 2-1 at the time, sent 12 batters to the dish and racked up six hits, but it was small ball that turned the tide in the favor of Notre Dame. After Mancini opened the frame with a double, Bull dropped down a perfectly placed bunt single down the third-base line. Senior CF and co-captain Charlie Markson followed with a safety-squeeze sacrifice bunt that Nimke misplayed into an error. Freshman SS Lane Richards followed with the third straight bunt for the Irish, yet Nimke managed to retire the lead runner, but then plunked sophomore LF Mac Hudgins on a 0-2 offering to load the bases.

Junior C Forrest Johnson followed with a suicide squeeze bunt that evaded Nimke’s diving effort and Notre Dame led, 3-2. DeSico followed with a two-run double and freshman DH Zak Kutsulis collected a two-run single, and the Irish lead was 7-2.

Nimke was replaced with David Brennan, who promptly walked junior 3B and All-American candidate Eric Jagielo. Brennan rebounded with a strikeout of Mancini, but Bull singled to centerfield to extend Notre Dame’s advantage to 8-2.

The Irish added three in the sixth and two more in the eighth, which at the time seemed meaningless, but turned out to be crucial.

The first six Western Michigan batters reached base in the ninth off freshman RHP Nick McCarty. Notre Dame’s lead was cut to 13-6 and the Broncos had runners on first and second with nobody out. After McCarty got a fly out, another Western Michigan single loaded the base and Brandon Cable drove in two more with a double to right field.

The Irish advantage was trimmed to 13-8 and junior RHP Donnie Hissa was summoned out of the bullpen. He yielded an RBI single that made the score, 13-9. With runners on the corners and still just one out, Hissa got a fly out to the warning track in right field, but the sacrifice fly drove in another run. With the tying run now on deck, Hissa collected a punch out of Caleb Caton to end the wild ninth inning.

Nine different Notre Dame players scored a run, including eight starters.

The Irish return to action at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Cincinnati with the opener of a critical BIG EAST series. The CBS College Sports Network will broadcast the first two games of the series.

— ND —