March 21, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, trailing 3-0, but Michigan State starter Tony Bucciferro got a fly out and strikeout to end the Irish threat and lock down a complete game, three-hit shutout of the Irish Sunday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium. Notre Dame drops to 7-11 on the season, while the Spartans improve to 12-4.
Bucciferro was in total control all afternoon. He silenced Notre Dame to just a pair of hits and only two base runners heading into the final frame. The Irish advanced just one base runner into scoring position over the first eight innings and it came in the second. Bucciferro struck out only four heading into the ninth, but induced 15 ground ball outs. In fact, he retired 25 of the first 27 Notre Dame batters he faced.
Despite that dominance, the Irish had a chance to equalize in the bottom of the ninth inning. After Bucciferro got freshman third baseman Adam Norton to ground out to open the ninth (his 16th and final ground ball out of the game), freshman second baseman Frank Desico reached on a walk, Bucciferro’s first of the afternoon, and senior centerfielder Ryne Intlekofer followed with a double.
Bucciferro then plunked senior left fielder Ryan Connolly to load the bases. The right-handed hurler promptly fell behind in the count, 2-0, but senior designated hitter Matt Grosso flew out on Bucciferro’s 2-0 pitch for the second out of the inning. Bucciferro then fanned junior shortstop Mick Doyle on three straight pitches to end the game.
Bucciferro improved to 2-2 on the season. He fanned five, walked one and yielded three hits in 9.0 innings of work. Bucciferro threw 103 pitches, 69 for strikes.
Notre Dame senior Eric Maust took the hard-luck loss and drops to 0-1 on the campaign. He allowed just two earned runs on seven hits in 6.0 innings. Maust struck out three and walked one. Senior southpaw David Mills tossed 3.0 scoreless innings of relief to help give the Irish a chance. He yielded two hits and fanned two.
Intlekofer had two of Notre Dame’s three hits on the day.
Brandon Eckerle and Jeff Holm combined for seven of the Spartans nine hits. Eckerle went 4-for-4 with two runs scored, while Holm went 3-for-4 with two RBI.
The Irish return to action on Tuesday night against Ball State. First pitch with the Cardinals is scheduled for 5:05 pm at Frank Eck Stadium.
— ND —