Sophomore Golden Tate.

Irish Plate Three Over Final Two Innings To Slip Past Ball State, 5-4

March 17, 2009

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Sophomore catcher Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) legged out an infield single to drive in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth and junior closer Steven Mazur (Round Rock, Texas) fanned a pair with the tying run in scoring position in the ninth to lead Notre Dame to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory over Ball State Tuesday night in the home opener. The Irish picked up their fourth consecutive victory and improved to 11-5 on the season, while the Cardinals drop to 9-8 on the year.

After Notre Dame plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game, 4-4, the Irish struck again in the home half of the eighth. Senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) greeted Ball State reliever Scott Brothers Jr. with a single to open the frame. After senior Ryan Connolly (Binghamton, N.Y.) struck out, junior Ryne Intlekofer (Moorpark, Calif.) followed with a single to left field. Ball State leftfielder Kory Benbow mishandled the ball and both Barnes and Intlekofer advanced a base on the error.

With a pair of runners in scoring position, the Cardinals went to the bullpen again, but McConnell legged out an infield single off Aaron Hammons, basically a swinging bunt, to plate Barnes to give the Irish a 5-4 lead.

Mazur allowed a leadoff single to T.J. Baumet, who moved into scoring position with one out after Tim Issler’s sacrifice bunt, but the closer punched out both Jeremy Hazelbaker and Nate Fields to secure the victory. The save was Mazur’s second of the season and made a winner out of freshman righty Will Hudgins (Richmond, Va.).

The sidewinder came on with two outs in the sixth inning and the Irish trailing 4-2, but retired seven of the nine batters he faced in 2.1 scoreless and hitless innings of relief to pick up his first career win. Hudgins fanned one and walked one.

Fellow freshman Dustin Ispas (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) tossed another quality game for Notre Dame. The southpaw made one mistake, a go-ahead three-run home run to Benbow in the top of the sixth inning, but limited the potent Ball State attack to just six hits and four earned runs in 5.2 innings of work. Ispas struck out five and walked two.

Sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.), McConnell and sophomore Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) each had two hits for the Irish. Tate went 2-for-2 with a walk, triple and two runs scored. McConnell went 2-for-4 with the game winning RBI and Sherry went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

Notre Dame will play Valparaiso on Wednesday night at Frank Eck Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. Freshman Steve Sabatino will take the mound for the Irish.

— ND —