April 6, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame sophomore Eric Maust (Alpharetta, Ga.) allowed just one earned run over 8.0 strong innings to lead the Irish past Rutgers, 11-2, in BIG EAST college baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Sunday afternoon. Notre Dame improves to 16-9-1 overall and 7-2 in the conference, while the Scarlet Knights drop to 8-18 and 2-7. The Irish have now swept Rutgers in each of the past three series to be played in Notre Dame.
Maust, coming off his worst start of the season, was in total control the entire afternoon. The right-handed hurler blanked the Scarlet Knights over the first five innings. Maust scattered seven hits and improved to 2-1 on the year. He struckout four and did not issue a walk. In Maust’s last outing against Cincinnati, he walked four (all of whom scored) in just 2.0+ innings of work.
Senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) and sophomore A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) paced Notre Dame’s 16-hit attack. Brezovsky went 4-for-5 with two runs scored, two RBI and three doubles. The four hits and three doubles were each single game highs. Pollock went 3-for-4 with three stolen bases, three runs scored and two RBI. He raised his team-best batting average to a sparkling .379.
Kyle Weiland (Albuquerque, N.M.) tossed a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout.
Senior Brett Lilley (North Canton, Ohio), junior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas), senior Sean Gaston (Brownsburg, Ind.) and sophomore Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) each added two hits apiece. Lilley scored a run and was plunked for the 92nd time of his career – tying Tony Hurtado of San Francisco (1997-00) for the all-time NCAA record. Barnes had two runs scored and two RBI, while Gaston and Boockford each drove in a run.
Ryan Beard dropped to 0-3 for Rutgers with the loss. He was tagged with seven earned runs on nine hits in 2.1 innings of work.
Notre Dame got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second inning. After Barnes opened the inning with a ground out, Brezovsky doubled into the right field corner and Gaston followed with a RBI single. Boockford then singled, but Beard got Greg Sherry (Mendam, N.J.) to ground into a double play to end the Irish threat.
Maust was impressive from the opening pitch, sending the Scarlet Knights down 1-2-3 on only 12 pitches in the first inning. The Irish then came through for the right-hander defensively in the second. After a leadoff single, Jaren Matthews hit a bouncing ground ball toward junior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) at first base. Sharpley charged, fired to Lilley at second base, who then relayed it back to first base where Maust was covering. The inning then ended on a high chopper to Sherry at third that jumped, deflected the ball straight in the air, then picked it with his bare hand and threw out Jarrred Jimenez.
The Irish increased their lead in the third, thanks to an RBI single by Pollock (which knocked in David Mills from third base). Mills (Battlecreek, Mich.) had reached on a fielder’s choice before stealing second and third. After Sharpley was plunked, Barnes singled through the left side to score Pollock to make the lead 3-0. The hit parade continued with Brezovsky, who singled through the right side to score Sharpley. Gaston’s ensuing RBI single was booted by the left fielder Donny Callahan. Brezovsky and Sharpley both scored, while Gaston was on third by the time the dust settled.
Boockford ran Beard from the game with an infield single to score Gaston. Scarlet Knight head coach Fred Hill then went to southpaw Matt Patterson for the third time this weekend. Patterson got Sherry to fly out, before hitting Lilley. The inning finally came to an end when Boockford was retired on a fielder’s choice by Mills, but not before the Irish pushed their lead to 7-0.
Maust worked out of a jam again in the fourth, allowing two singles before getting Jon Gossard to ground into a double play. The Irish would extend their lead to 8-0 in the bottom half of the inning on an RBI double from Barnes.
Rutgers added a pair of runs, only one of which was earned, in the top of the sixth inning, but Notre Dame answered with two of its own in the bottom of the frame. Pollock doubled, stole third and scampered home on an error from the catch and Barnes scored on Brezovsky’s RBI double to push the lead back to eight runs, 10-2.
Pollock’s third hit of the afternoon and second RBI drove in Lilley in the bottom of the seventh to give the Irish an 11-2 lead.
Next up for the Irish is a pair of non-conference home games. Notre Dame takes on Valparaiso Tuesday, April 8 at 5:05 pm and Manchester College on Wednesday, April 9 at 6:05 pm. Both games will be played at Frank Eck Stadium. The Irish will continue BIG EAST play next weekend (April 11-13) with a three-game series at Villanova.
— ND —