April 24, 2009
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Notre Dame rallied from a six-run deficit to grab a 7-6 lead on sophomore David Casey’s (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) pinch hit solo home run in the top of the ninth inning only to have Louisville’s Alec Lowry lace a game-winning, pinch-hit two-run double to give the Cardinals an 8-7 victory in the series opener Friday night at Patterson Stadium. Louisville improves to 29-11 overall and 12-4 in the BIG EAST, while the Irish drop to 23-16 and 8-8.
Junior Steven Mazur (Round Rock, Texas), who entered in the eighth inning and got a double play liner to escape a jam, surrendered a leadoff single to Andrew Clark on a 3-2 pitch. Mazur then got Cardinals’ All-American Chris Dominguez to pop out, but Phil Wunderlich followed with his third double of the night – hammering a 0-2 pitch just over the outstretched glove of sprinting Irish centerfielder A.J. Pollock and off the centerfield wall. After Mazur intentionally walked Ryan Wright to set up a potential game ending double play, Lowrey pinch hit for Jeff Arnold and lined the first pitch from Mazur over the right field wall on one bounce for a ground rule double to give the Cardinals the victory.
Mazur took the loss and drops to 2-2 on the season. He allowed two earned runs on three hits in 1.0 inning of work.
Gabriel Shaw picked up the victory in relief and improves to 3-0. The righty yielded one earned run on three hits in 3.0 innings. Shaw struck out four and walked one.
Notre Dame looked as though it might at least equal its largest come-from-behind victory since March 6, 2004 (Irish trailed Southern Illinois 9-3) after Casey hammered his second home run of the season over the left field wall to give Notre Dame a 7-6 lead in the ninth. The Irish had a golden chance to add more damage with runners on the corners and one out, already leading 7-6, but junior Brayden Ashdown (Tucson, Ariz.) grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Cardinals raced out to a 6-0 lead in the first two innings on Notre Dame starting pitcher Cole Johnson (Hudson, Ohio). The sophomore did settle down after the early inning troubles. The right-handed hurler retired 10 of the next 11 Cardinals and faced the minimum over the third, fourth and fifth innings. Johnson did his part to keep the Irish in the game and it paid off for Notre Dame in its half of the sixth inning.
Barnes belted his team-leading eighth home run of the season to make it 6-1. Ashdown then legged out a one-out infield single before Doyle ripped an RBI double down the left field line to cut the deficit to 6-2. Doyle moved to third on a wild pitch and sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) walked to put runners on the corners with one out. Doyle was tagged out trying to score on sophomore Cameron McConnell’s (Bannockburn, Ill.) fielder’s choice, but sophomore Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) laced an opposite field two-out single to bring Notre Dame within three runs, 6-3.
With a pitcher ready in the bullpen and Louisville starting pitcher Justin Marks over 120 pitches, the Cardinals stayed with its starter and he was greeted with a mammoth three-run blast off the bat of junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) that tied the game, 6-6. The home run was Pollock’s fifth of the year.
Johnson kept the game tied at 6-6 with another scoreless inning in the Cardinals’ half of the sixth, but ran into trouble in the seventh. Clark and Dominguez registered consecutive singles to open the frame.
Freshman Joe Spano (Verona, N.J.), making his first appearance for Notre Dame since March 25 after missing nearly a month with a thumb injury, retired the hot-hitting Wunderlich with a ground out to first, but both runners did advance before Spano was replaced in favor of freshman Will Hudgins (Richmond, Va.).
Hudgins induced Wright into a fielder’s choice and Barnes gunned down Clark at home for the second out of the inning and the freshman then sawed-off Arnold into another fielder’s choice as Barnes flipped to Sherry to end the inning.
Both Johnson and Marks did not render in the decision. Johnson went 6.0+ innings and was charged with five earned runs on 10 hits. He fanned two and walked two. Marks also went 6.0 innings and yielded six earned runs on eight hits. He struck out 10 and walked three.
Louisville jumped on Johnson in the top of the first inning. Josh Richmond, Adam Duval and Clark registered three consecutive singles to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. After Johnson fanned Dominguez, Wunderlich followed with a two-run double to push the lead to 3-0.Johnson got a foul out before hitting a batter and walking another to load the bases. He then induced a routine ground ball that should have ended the inning, but Barnes’ throw from shortstop was errant giving Louisville a 4-0 lead.
The Cardinals continued their assault of Johnson in the second inning. Clark laced a one-out single to center and Dominguez followed with another single before Wunderlich ripped another two-run double to push the Louisville advantage to 6-0.
The Irish and Cardinals return to action with the second game of the series Saturday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 4:00 p.m. Sophomore Brian Dupra will take the mound for Notre Dame.
— ND —