Junior Dan Slania.

Irish Hold Off Tulane, 2-1, In Series Opener

Feb. 22, 2013

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NEW ORLEANS – University of Notre Dame junior All-American candidate Eric Jagielo stroked a two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning and fellow junior All-American candidate Dan Slania got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Irish a thrilling 2-1 victory over Tulane Friday night at Turchin Stadium. Notre Dame improved to 3-1 on the season, while the Green Wave dropped to 3-2.

Slania, who pitched out of trouble in the eighth inning as well, surrendered a single, walk and another single to Tulane that loaded the bases with just one out and the Irish clinging to a 2-1 lead. The closer struck out Green Wave cleanup hitter Sean Potkay for the first out and got Garrett Cannizaro to fly out harmlessly to center field to end the game.

The save was Slania’s first of the season and 19th of his career. His effort made a winner out of junior Sean Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald (1-0) limited Tulane to one earned run on four hits in 6.1 innings of work. The right-handed hurler struck out two and did not issue a walk. Fitzgerald retired 15 straight at one point in the game and 16 of the first 18 batters he faced. In fact, he faced the minimum over the first six innings of the contest.

Tony Rizzotti was charged with the loss for the Green Wave. He struck out six, walked two and allowed a pair of earned runs on four hits in 6.0 innings of work.

Rizzotti made one mistake.

And, not surprisingly, it came off the bat of Jagielo.

The Golden Spikes player of the year candidate hammered a two-run home run to the opposite field in left to give the Irish a 2-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning. The home run was his third this season and 21st of his career.

Fitzgerald did not work to a three-ball count until the bottom of the seventh where he ran into trouble. Brennan Middleton opened the inning with a single. After a fly out, Brandon Boudreaux executed a hit-and-run single to put runners on the corners with the Green Wave still trailing, 2-0.

Nick McCarty replaced Fitzgerald and got Potkey to fly out to right field, which allowed Middleton to scamper home and cut the Irish lead to 2-1, but the rookie induced Cannizaro into an inning-ending ground out to keep the Notre Dame advantage one run.

Tulane got a leadoff single in the bottom of the eighth inning and advanced the tying run into scoring position following a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt.

Slania trotted out of the Irish bullpen and collected back-to-back, sawed-off groundouts to end the threat. Including the ninth inning, Slania retired four batters in the eighth and ninth inning with either the tying or winning run in scoring position.

McCarty allowed a hit in 1.0 scoreless inning, while Slania allowed two in 1.2 scoreless innings.

Notre Dame and Tulane combined for only 11 hits in the contest and only one player in the game had more than one hit.

The Irish collected their first base hit in the top of the fourth inning on a junior Trey Mancini single. Senior co-captain Charlie Markson had drawn a one-out walk prior to the Mancini knock. With two on and just one down, Rizzotti picked up a big out with a strikeout of sophomore Ryan Bull. After a hit by pitch to sophomore Blaise Lezynski loaded the bases, freshman Lane Richards grounded into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

Fitzgerald was dynamite himself over the first four innings. After Middleton legged out an infield single to open the game, a play in which he could have easily been called out, Fitzgerald retired the next 11 Green Wave batters. He tossed another perfect inning in the bottom of the fifth before the Irish finally solved Rizzotti in the sixth.

Fitzgerald ultimately stretched his streak to 15 consecutive batters retired before Richard Carthon singled in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the right-handed hurler got a 4-3 double-play ground out on the next offering to end the inning.

Fitzgerald has made two career starts in the State of Louisiana – Friday night and last year against No. 11 LSU. He has registered victories in each outing and has allowed just two earned runs in 14.1 innings of work. Fitzgerald has combined to fan six and walk one.

The Irish and Green Wave return to action at 2 p.m. CT Saturday for the second-game of the weekend series. Senior Adam Norton will take the mound for Notre Dame.

— ND —