April 15, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Rain fell. The wind topped out at 50 miles per hour, causing routine flyballs to turn infielders into jesters at a three-ring circus. Even the pressbox ceiling collapsed.
The somewhat odd happenings around Frank Eck Stadium Friday afternoon seemed to have carried over onto the field as the BIG EASTConference series opener between Notre Dame and West Virginia was decided by a pair of unearned Mountaineer runs in the 10th inning.
Trey Mancini nearly ended the game in the bottom of the ninth with a two-out screamer to left-center, but the ball caromed off the top of the fence for a stand-up double.
Notre Dame stifled the league’s best scoring team to a 4-4 stalemate through regulation, though WVU (21-14, 7-3) saved two of its 10 hits on the day for a pair of runs in the 10th inning. That stalemate was made possible when the Irish rallied from a 3-0 first-inning deficit.
Greg Sherry was charged with an error at the hot corner with one away in the 10th and relief pitcher Sean Fitzgerald added a second error later in the frame, resulting in two unearned runs for the Mountaineers.
Fitzgerald had stepped in to throw 0.1 innings of scoreless relief, allowing one hit – a double by Ryan McBroom which drove in the go-ahead run for WVU – while facing three batters.
West Virginia was aided by Mother Nature in the opening frame as Grant Buckner’s routine flyball to center was corralled by a fierce crosswind and fell for a two-out single, allowing Brady Wilson to score from second. Entering the contest as the league leader in hits, Wilson drew a leadoff walk to start the contest. He finished 0-for-4 at the dish.
Buckner moved to second on a passed ball and traded places with Jeremy Gum after Gum belted an RBI double to left. Gum bumped the Mountaineers’ lead to 3-0 by tapping in on a T.J. Kuban single down the pipe of the infield.
After being blanked in the first, Notre Dame scored one run in each of the next five innings – save for the fourth – starting with Adam Norton’s second-inning infield single to plate Mancini. Mancini opened the stanza with a single to center, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Petzold and hustled home from second when WVU’s Justin McDavid fielded Norton’s single but sailed the ensuing throw down the rightfield line.
McDavid, who finished 2-for-5, blasted a sliding double to right-center in the fourth but was left stranded when Dupra fanned Dan DiBartolomeo to end the inning, his fourth punchout of the contest.
Dupra went 7.0 innings for the Irish and was left without the decision. Dupra secured five strikeouts and allowed four earned runs on eight hits.
WVU starter Marshall Thompson retired the Irish in order in the fourth and Dupra duplicated the feat in the next half inning for a fourth straight scoreless effort.
Thompson made his exit in the seventh after hurling 6.1 frames of eight-hit ball. Three of Notre Dame’s four runs with Thompson on the mound were of the earned variety.
Tezak picked up his second win in as many decisions to stay perfect on the year by keeping the Irish at bay with 3.2 innings of scoreless relief. He added four strikeouts and allowed one hit.
The fifth inning saw DeSico and Sherry reach base for Notre Dame, and Jagielo joined them on the pond by drawing a walk.
Mancini lined out to put two away, though Petzold was issued a walk to register an RBI and knot the game at 3-3.
The teams traded scores in the sixth. Matt Malloy blasted a standup triple to right and scored when Mark Dvoroznak notched a sacrifice fly.
That run was neutralized in the bottom half when the Irish displayed their small ball skills to manufacture a fourth run. Mick Doyle ignited the inning with an infield single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Doyle. DeSico’s second hit of the game – a solid single to left – accounted for his team-best second RBI.
Notre Dame left two of its 11 stranded runners on base in the seventh, as the WVU defense received a favorable call when Jagielo was punched out while trying to slide around Malloy’s tag on a Petzold sacrifice.
Anthony McIver (1-4) shouldered the loss after tossing 2.2 frames of late relief during which West Virginia scored twice.
Locked up in a 4-4 tie, the Irish left two more stranded in the ninth. Mancini’s two-out double went for naught.
Three players for each team had multi-hit outings.