April 10, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame baseball team already had played in five one-run games this season and Tuesday’s start of a 12-game homestand yielded another close finish, as the Irish worked out of some late-game jams to defeat visiting IPFW, 3-2.
Notre Dame (15-16) – now 6-3 in games at Eck Stadium this season – held a 1-0 lead in the middle innings, only to see another unearned run produce a tie game. The Irish answered right back with a pair of runs and then allowed a run on no hits in the 9th before closing out the win.
Sophomore lefthander Sam Elam was in line for the planned-rotation win, after leaving the game in the 5th to give way to his classmate Brett Graffy. Elam faced just 14 batters in the 4.0 full innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out three in a 59-pitch outing that included 40 strikes and just 19 balls. Graffy (2-2) then was charged with the unearned run in the 5th, ultimately allowing a hit and three walks in 2.0 innings (with one K).
Freshman lefthander David Mills (2 H, 5 BF) followed with a scoreless 7th and sophomore RHP Tony Langford overcame a bumpy end (2 IP, R, H, BB, HB, 2 WP, balk) to record his second career save and first in nearly two years to the day, dating back to his save of the 9-8 win over Valparaiso on April 21, 2005. Langford missed all of the 2006 season due to elbow surgery and has been eased back into a pitching role on the 2007 staff.
IPFW finished with a 6-4 hit edge but left nine men on base, in addition to hitting into a double play and having another runner caught stealing. The Irish had been just 1-12 this season when being outhit, prior to Tuesday’s win.
Notre Dame had the rare experience of winning despite receiving no hits from the first five batters in the lineup (0-for-13), although those players did combine for five walks (one of which led to a run).
The Irish opened the scoring with an unearned run in the 2nd. Matt Weglarz coaxed a full-count walk before Herrold threw errantly on Danny Dressman’s ensuing sacrifice bunt, leaving two runners in scoring position with no outs. Mike Dury’s groundball to the left side then brought home Weglarz for the 1-0 lead.
The Mastodons tied the game in the 5th, after Brett Merkley’s 1-out single through the right side, a four-pitch walk by Nick Millspaugh, a passed ball and a fielding error on a rightside groundout (nine-hole batter Adam Miller still picked up the RBI). With the go-ahead run on third base, Graffy induced leadoff batter Mark Carden’s foulout to the first baseman Dury but lost Quentin Brown on a full-count walk. Three-hole hitter Jared Davis had the chance for a big play but he went down swinging at a 1-2 pitch.
The Irish came right back in the bottom of the frame, sparked by a full-count single up the middle from Jeremy Barnes. With a stiff crosswind blowing from right to left, the lefthanded-hitting Dury went with an outside pitch and drove it over the head of the leftfield Brown. Barnes motored all the way around to score, giving Dury the RBI double and the Irish a 2-1 lead. Ryan Smith added a sacrifice bunt and nine-hole hitter Michael Wright added what proved to be a key third run, pulling a quick-moving single that hopped off the first baseman Millspaugh and carried down the rightfield line. Righthanded starter Stacy Herrold (1-5) then lost Brett Lilley on a full-count walk, ending his 4.1-inning stint (3 R/2 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, K).
The 5th inning had been Notre Dame’s least-productive of the season, with the Irish managing just nine runs in that key middle inning (while allowing 20, now 21) prior to Tuesday’s action.
IPFW threatened in the 7th, but leftfielder Ross Brezovsky made a diving catch to leave a pair of runners on base. Two runners were aboard again in the top of the 8th, with Langford rolling up the 4-6-3 double play to end the threat. A walk, balk and a pair of wild pitches gave the visitors a run in the 9th – but Langford froze Brown on a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
NOTES – ND had been just 1-4 in five previous 1-run games this season (including back-to-back 4-3 losses last week at Cincinnati) … Dury now has four more extra-base hits (16; 6 HR, 3B, 9 2B) than singles (12) this season … Dressman’s sac. bunt was the 30th of his career, tying him for 3rd in ND history behind only Cory Mee (49) and former teammate Greg Lopez (32) … Mee will be back at Eck Stadium next week, for the annual game with the University of Toledo (he is the Rockets head coach) … Dressman’s 39 total sacrifices (9 sac. flies) rank 4th in the ND record book, behind Mee (57), Lopez (48) and Steve Stanley (45) … ND now has allowed 48 unearned runs this season (104 earned) … ND made only one error in the game and actually has a solid .967 fielding pct. in the nine games at Eck Stadium this season (12 Es, but also 8 passed balls that are not factored into fielding pct. but to affect unearned runs) … the Irish now have totaled 18 games with 0-1 errors this season (13 with 2-plus Es) … the ND pitchers have combined for a 1.67 ERA over the past five games (8 earned runs, including four with a single earned run allowed) … the Irish entered the week with the 2nd-best overall ERA among BIG EAST teams (3.58, now 3.40) … ND now owns a 20-7 scoring edge in the 2nd inning … the Irish had been hitting .364 at home games this season (now .349) … ND’s only previous win this season when being outhit was the 5-2 comeback vs. Dayton, in the final game of the Spring Break trip (UD had 9 hits, ND 8) … junior LHP Wade Korpi is slated to start tomorrow’s game vs. Bowling Green while the probable rotation vs. Georgetown this weekend is (in order, all RHPs) sophomore David Phelps, senior Dan Kapala and sophomore Kyle Weiland.
IPFW (4-24) 0-0-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 – 2 6 1
Notre Dame (15-16) 0-1-0 0-2-0 0-0-X – 3 4 1