April 8, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Sophomore A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) and junior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) each had three hits and junior Kyle Weiland (Albuquerque, N.M.) became Notre Dame’s all-time saves lead as the Irish rallied past Valparaiso, 8-6, in college baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Tuesday night. Notre Dame improves to 17-9-1 with its fourth straight victory, while the Crusaders drop to 8-21.
After Valparaiso tied the game, 6-6, in the top of the seventh, Notre Dame re-gained the lead thanks to Pollock and Sharpley. Pollock, the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week, absolutely crushed a 3-2 pitch from Crusader reliever Steve Godawa deep over the left field wall, just inside the foul pole to give the Irish a 7-6 lead. Sharpley followed with his third hit of the afternoon and eighth double of the year.
Junior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) added a key insurance with an RBI single to give the Irish an 8-6 lead, which was more than enough for Weiland.
The Notre Dame closer tossed a perfect ninth inning with a strikeout to record his 21st career save. Weiland moved past John Corbin (1997-2000), Ryan Doherty (2003-05) and J.P. Gagne (2000-03) for first on the Irish all-time list.
Pollock went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and the solo home run – his third on the season. He is now batting a team-best .391, including a robust .474 over the last 10 games. Sharpley also went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. He added his team-leading seventh home run. Senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) went 2-for-2 with a walk, RBI and run scored. Brezovsky has excelled over the last 10 games as well batting .448.
Senior Tony Langford (Fort Worth, Texas) picked up the victory in relief for the Irish. He pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief and improved to 2-0 on the season.
Notre Dame used a total seven different pitchers. The Irish bullpen of freshman Todd Miller (Franklin, Tenn.), junior Brett Graffy (Homer Glen, Ill.), sophomore Steven Mazur (Round Rock, Texas), sophomore David Mills (Battlecreek, Mich.), Langford and Weiland limited Valparaiso to just one earned run on three hits over 7.1 innings of relief.
Godawa (2-2) was charged with the loss for the Crusaders. The righty was tagged for two earned runs on three hits and failed to retire a single Notre Dame batter.
Valparaiso jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Crusaders got back-to-back singles from Dan DeBruin and Matt Lenski to open the inning before Zach Rodeghero walked to load the bases with no outs (freshman Brian Dupra’s first walk in 11.1 innings). DeBruin then came into score on a passed ball before Josh Wallace plated another run with an infield single. Valpo made it 3-0 when Rodeghero came home on Andrew Quinnette’s double play ground out.
The Crusaders added two more runs in their half of the second inning. Jon Gulbransen laced a one-out double down the left field line and moved to third base on Barnes’ great ranging play at second base to throw out Damon McCormick. After DeBruin walked, Lenski and Rodeghero each came through with two-out RBI singles for the Crusaders to push their lead to 5-0.
Notre Dame finally seemed to solve Valpo starter John Snelten in the bottom of the fourth inning with a pair of runs on three hits. Mills led off the inning with a bunt single, stole second base and moved to third base on a pass ball. After Pollock ripped a 2-0 offering from Snelten directly at Crusaders’ left fielder Brunelli, Sharpley hammered the 1-1 pitch over the left field wall for his team-high seventh home run of the season. Barnes then reached on an error before Brezovsky laced a single to bring the tying run to the plate, but Snelten escaped any further damage after getting Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Dupra was knocked around for five runs, four earned, on six hits in 1.2 innings of work. He walked a pair and struckout one.
Miller relieved Dupra and tossed 3.1 scoreless innings of relief. The freshman right-handed hurler allowed just one hit, struckout one and walked two. Graffy then followed with a perfect inning of relief to set the stage for the Notre Dame rally.
The Irish offense awoke with four runs on five hits. Pollock opened with a single and Sharpley followed with a perfectly executed hit-and-run to put runners on the corners with no outs. After Barnes flied out, Brezovsky followed with a sacrifice bunt to score Pollock to cut the deficit to 5-3. Boockford then singled up the middle and senior Sean Gaston (Brownsburg, Ind.) came through with a pinch-hit, two-run double to even the score, 5-5. Freshman Greg Sherry (Mendam, N.J.) capped the four-run rally with a go-ahead double down the right field line to plate Gaston and give Notre Dame a 6-5 advantage.
The lead was short-lived as Valparaiso answered with a solo tally in the top of the seventh, but Pollock and Sharpley would not let the game get away.
Notre Dame returns to action this week with another non-conference game against Manchester College tomorrow evening at 6:05 p.m. The game can heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com.