May 16, 2010
PLYMOUTH, MEETING, Pa. -Â Notre Dame senior Eric Maust could not have picked a better time to register his first victory of the season and the bullpen tandem of sophomore Will Hudgins and senior Steven Mazur shut the door as the Irish held off Villanova, 4-1, in the rubber game of a three-game series Sunday afternoon at Villanova Ballpark. Notre Dame improved to 22-29 overall and 10-14 in the BIG EAST, while the Wildcats dropped to 28-21 and 8-16.
With the victory and CincinnatiÂ¹s victory over Pittsburgh, the Irish remain tied for seventh in the conference standings, but own the tiebreaker over the Bearcats.
Maust improved to 1-5 on the year with his best outing of the season. The right-handed hurler limited the Wildcats to just three hits and one earned run in 5.1 innings of work. Maust struck out four and walked three.
Hudgins and Mazur closed the door with 3.1 scoreless innings of relief, but not without some anxious moments. Hudgins retired the first eight batters he faced, four on strikeouts, including a punch out to open the ninth inning, but Fleishman tripled to centerfield before the Irish sidewinder plunked back-to-back Wildcats, both on 1-2 counts, to set the stage for Mazur.
With the bases loaded and only one out, Notre DameÂ¹s senior closer struck out Villanova pinch hitter Steve Schrenk and induced a ground ball off the bat of Kevin Stephens to end the game. Mazur picked up his seventh save of the season.
Wildcats starter Kyle McMyne was charged with the loss and dropped to 6-6. The flame-throwing righty, who touched 95 mph, allowed three earned runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings of work. McMyne did strikeout seven and walked two.
Junior shortstop Mick Doyle and freshman catcher Joe Hudson each had three hits. Doyle went 3-for-5 with a run scored, while Hudson went 3-for-4 with his first career home run. Junior designated hitter David Casey added two hits and a key two-run single.
Maust held Villanova hitless over the first five innings, but the Wildcats not only scratched a run off Maust in the bottom of the sixth inning, but also their first hit. Justin Benscko lined a sharp single to right field and Dain Hall followed with a bloop single. After Maust got Chris Johnson to pop out, David Koczirka followed with an RBI single to make the score, 3-1. With runners still on first and second, Fleishman hit a hard ground ball at junior Greg Sherry at third base that took an awful hop and ricocheted off SherryÂ¹s chest to Doyle, who still managed to gun down Fleishman at first base.
Hudgins came out of the Irish bullpen and got Sciacca to fly out to end the inning.
Notre Dame answered with a key insurance in the top of the seventh to push its lead to 4-1. Doyle opened the frame with a single and moved to second on senior centerfielder David MillsÂ¹ ground out. Senior right fielder Billy Boockford followed with a ground out, but back-to-back infield singles, including SherryÂ¹s RBI base hit plated Doyle.
After the Irish had nine base runners, but stranded seven over the first three innings, Hudson finally gave Notre Dame a lead. The catcher drilled his first career home run, a solo shot, over the right field wall. The round tripper seemed to rattle McMyne. Sherry and senior left fielder Ryan Connolly followed with singles. After freshman Frank Desico executed a perfect sacrifice bunt, Casey came through with a clutch two-run single to make it 3-0.
Maust did run into trouble in the fourth. He walked the first two Wildcats of the inning. Koczirka followed with a ground out to Martin at first base, and both Hall and Johnson moved into scoring position, but Maust got a ground ball fielderÂ¹s choice and a strikeout of Sciacca to put an end to the threat.
Notre Dame had a pair of quality chances to grab the gameÂ¹s first lead in each of the first and second inning. Connolly reached second to lead off the first inning after he reached on a strikeout and wild pitch before racing into scoring position when JohnsonÂ¹s throw from home bounced past first base. After DeSico grounded out to second base and Connolly advanced to third, Casey followed with a grounder right to Koczirka at third base, who threw home in time to nail Connolly at the plate. Martin then drew a four-pitch walk, but McMyne punched out Doyle looking to end the inning.
Boockford and Hudson registered back-to-back one out singles and Sherry reached on an error to load the bases. McMyne and Connolly then went to battle on a 10-pitch at bat, but the Wildcat hurler eventually came out on top with a strikeout. McMyne followed with another punch out, his fifth over the first two innings, to strand the bases loaded.
Notre Dame again threatened in its half of the third inning. After McMyne fanned Casey looking to open the inning, Martin and Doyle followed with consecutive singles. McMyne then got Mills to pop up, but Villanova shortstop Marlon Calbi lost the ball in the sun. Unfortunately for the Irish, Martin was not able to advance as Fleisman forced him out at third base. Boockford followed and grounded out to third to end the inning.
While Notre Dame was unable to take advantage of the scoring opportunities early, Maust did his part to keep the game scoreless. The right-handed hurler faced only one over the minimum over the first three innings and did not allow a hit. Maust also needed just 35 pitches to get the first nine outs of the contest. He fanned one and went to a three-ball count just once over the stretch.
Notre Dame closes the regular season against Louisville in a three-game BIG EAST series that opens at 6:05 p.m. on Thursday at Frank Eck Stadium. The series resumes at 6:05 p.m. on Friday and concludes at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday. Live stats, live blogs, live audio and recaps of each game will be available on UND.com. A live web stream will also be available for all three contests. Tickets for all Irish home contests this season are available through the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356), on-line at the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com/tickets), and at the Frank Eck Stadium ticket windows on game day.
— ND —