CLEARWATER, Fla. – Notre Dame rallied with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie Connecticut, 3-3, but the Huskies immediately answered with three runs of their own in the top of the sixth and never looked back en route to a 9-3 victory in an elimination game from the 2011 BIG EAST Tournament at Bright House Field Friday night. The Irish conclude their season at 23-29-1.
Freshman LHP Brian Ward picked up the victory for the Huskies and improved to 5-1 on the year. The southpaw struck out six, walked two and allowed three earned runs on five hits in 5.2 innings of work.
Sophomore RHP Adam Norton (2-2) pitched well in relief, but was saddled with the loss. The righty fanned seven and walked one in 4.2 innings. Norton was charged with three earned runs on five hits.
Connecticut jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on Irish starting pitcher Todd Miller. LJ Mazzilli took a 0-1 offering from Miller and deposited it over the left field wall for a home run. The home run was his third of the year. Notre Dame had not surrendered a home run to open a game since April of 2009.
The Huskies pushed the lead to 3-0 on Bill Ferriter’s two-run single in the top of the second, but the Irish refused to lay down.
Notre Dame drew even in its half of the fifth inning. Senior 3B Greg Sherry drew a leadoff walk and sophomore C Joe Hudson followed with a single. After senior SS Mick Doyle advanced the two runners with a sacrifice bunt, sophomore 2B Frank DeSico lined an RBI single back up the middle to bring the Irish within two runs, 3-1. DeSico promptly stole second base and ultimately came around to score on freshman LF Eric Jagielo’s two-run single.
Unfortunately, the three-run rally for the Irish seemed to awake the Connecticut bats. The Huskies opened the top of the sixth with three straight doubles from Mike Nemeth, Ryan Fuller and Nick Ahmed to quickly regain a 5-3 lead. Tom Verdi make it 6-3 with an RBI single.
Connecticut added a run in the eighth and two more in the ninth inning to put the game out of reach.
Jagielo went 2-for-3 with two RBI. Hudson went 1-for-4 with a run scored and Sherry went 0-for-1 with a run scored and two walks. DeSico went 1-for-4 with a run scored and RBI.
Miller was touched up for three earned runs on four hits in 2.0 innings. He walked one and struck out one.
Nemeth went 4-for-4 with a double, triple, run scored and RBI. Ferriter went 2-for-4 with three RBI and Ahmed went 1-for-2 with two runs scored and three RBI.
As always, please visit UND.com regularly for full coverage of all Notre Dame athletics news and events.