March 25, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame freshman Brian Dupra tossed 6.0 solid innings and reigning BIG EAST Player of the Week junior Evan Sharpley belted his fourth home run in his last three games to lead the Irish past Ball State, 6-4, in college baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Tuesday night. Notre Dame improves to 11-7-1 overall following its fourth consecutive win, while the Cardinals drop to 8-9.
Dupra (Rochester, N.Y.) picked up his first career victory in an Irish uniform. The right-handed hurler (1-2) scattered six hits over 6.0 innings. Dupra allowed just two earned runs and did not walk a single Ball State batter (also struck out one). Since opening the season with an earned run average of 10.22 over his first three starts (22 hits, 14 ER in 12.1 IP), he has allowed just four earned runs in 11.0 innings over his last two starts (vs. Central Michigan on March 18 and tonight). Dupra has lowered his ERA to 6.94.
Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) went 1-for-3 with a solo home run – his team-leading sixth round tripper of the season. Over his last three starts, Sharpley has belted four home runs and driven in 10. Each of his six home runs has gone to left or center field.
Junior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) and sophomore Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) each went 2-for-4. Barnes scored a run, while Boockford knocked his first home run of the season and drove in two.
Brenden Stines started for the Cardinals and did not factor in the decision. He allowed an earned run on two hits in 3.0 innings of work. Tyler Pritchard (0-4) was charged with the loss. He surrendered two earned runs on just one hit, but was victimized by a pair of walks.
Ball State nearly grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but Boockford robbed Matt Stoeklen of a possible wind-aided two-run home run. Stoeklen’s routine fly ball carried all the way to the base of the wall thanks to 25-30 mph winds blowing straight out to right field. Boockford initially came in, but quickly tracked back and reached over the wall to make the catch.
The Cardinals opened the third inning with a leadoff double, but Dupra induced a ground ball back to the pitcher to retire the lead runner for the first out of the inning at third base (as was the exact case in the first inning). Ball State did grab 1 -0 lead, through, in the third following a two-out single put runners on the corners and T.J. Baumet then scored after taking off from third when Wayne Bond Jr. stole second base.
The Irish drew even, 1-1, in their half of the third inning. Senior Brett Lilley (North Canton, Ohio) drew a one-out walk, stole second and came around to score on sophomore A.J. Pollock’s (Hebron, Conn.) two-out RBI single.
The Cardinals regained a one-run advantage, 2-1, in the top of the fourth inning. After opening an inning with a leadoff double for the third time, Stoeklen came into to score on Nate Field’s RBI sacrifice fly.
The lead was short-lived as Notre Dame answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Barnes greeted Pritchard with a leadoff single. Senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) and senior Sean Gaston (Brownsburg, Ind.) followed with walks to load the bases with no outs. Boockford tied the game, 2-2, with an RBI ground and freshman Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Irish their first lead of the afternoon, 3-2.
Sharpley pushed the Notre Dame lead to 4-2 with his solo home run. He drilled a 1-0 offering from Brad Piatt over the leftfield wall.
Dupra allowed a leadoff single in the Ball State sixth, but got a pop out and double play to work around the Cardinals’ fourth leadoff hit of the evening.
Notre Dame added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Boockford hammered his first home run of the season and sophomore David Mills (Battlecreek, Mich.) added a sacrifice fly, plating Doyle, who singled following Boockford’s blast.
The Cardinals plated two runs in the top of the ninth inning off Notre Dame closer Kyle Weiland (Albuquerque, N.M.) and brought the go-ahead run to the plate in Joe Mack, but Weiland got Mack to fly out to end the game.
Notre Dame returns to action on Wednesday against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. First-pitch for is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. Freshman right-handed hurler Ryan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) will take the mound for the Irish. The game can heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com.