May 22, 2010

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. ­ Notre Dame was only one out away from a victory over No. 10 Louisville for the second straight game, and more importantly, a berth into the 2010 BIG EAST Tournament, but Adam Duval stroked a two-out, two-run triple to give the Cardinals their second consecutive last at bat, come-from-behind victory in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium.

Josh Richmond opened the seventh with a leadoff double off Irish closer Steven Mazur. After J.J. Ethel drew a walk, Drew Haynes popped out on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Mazur then got a taylor-made, game-ending double play ball off the bat of Jeff Arnold, but Notre Dame second baseman Frank Desico, who has not committed an error in 149 consecutive fielding chances, could not handle the grounder cleanly and was only able to retire the lead runner. Richmond moved to third and Arnold reached first for Duval, who lifted a fly ball to right field that carried over the out-stretched glove of Boockford for a go-ahead, two-out, two-run triple to give Louisville a 4-3 lead.

Notre Dame mounted a rally in the bottom of the seventh. After Louisville stopper Neil Holland got senior left fielder Ryan Connolly to fly out to open the inning, DeSico followed with a single to centerfield and scampered to second base on Richmond¹s error. With the tying run at second base and one out, Holland got junior designated hitter David Casey to fly out and senior first baseman Casey Martin to ground out to end the game.

Holland, who picked up the save in the series opener as well, registered his NCAA-leading 15th save of the season. Holland made a victor out of Gabriel Shaw, who was previously on the hook for the loss. The right-handed hurler allowed one earned run on three hits in 1.1 innings of work. Shaw walked one and improved to 5-2 on the year.

Mazur took the hard-luck loss. The righty was charged with a pair of earned runs on two hits in 0.2 innings. Mazur also issued a walk without a strikeout.

Senior centerfielder David Mills went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a solo home run. The blast was his third of the campaign. Freshman catcher Joe Hudson also registered a multi-hit contest. He went 2-for-3 with a run scored and RBI, a go-head base hit in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Irish starter Steve Sabatino coasted through the sixth inning, but did not render in the decision. The southpaw retired the Cardinals in order and registered one of his best outings of the season. Sabatino tossed 6.0 innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits. He struck out a pair and did not issue a walk.

After both starting pitchers retired the side in order in the first inning, Louisville threatened in the top of the second inning. Phil Wunderlich laced an opposite field, one-out double to left field. Stewart Ijames then followed with an 0-2 single, also the other way, to put runners on the corners with one out, but Sabatino rebounded with a strikeout of Richmond and induced an inning-ending fielder¹s choice.

Notre Dame got a leadoff single from Martin in its half of the second, but shortstop Mick Doyle was not able to execute the sacrifice bunt. Martin was forced out at second and Doyle reached after Louisville starter Matt Koch fielded the bunt and threw accurately to second base. Doyle was then picked off for the second out of the inning and Mills flied out to end the inning.

The game remained scoreless until the top of the fourth inning. Ryan Wright led off the inning with a solo home run over the left field wall to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. The round tripper was Wright¹s 14th of the season.

The Cardinals extended their lead to 2-0 in the top of the fifth inning on Duval¹s two-out, RBI single. Sabatino got a leadoff ground out, but Hayes followed with a single to right field. He promptly stole second base. Hudson¹s throw beat Haynes to the bag, but the Louisville left fielder apparently avoided the tag of Doyle. Duval then pulled a single through the left side. Junior third baseman Greg Sherry dove to his left to make a play, but the ball caught the lip of the infield grass and skidded under the Irish third baseman¹s glove. Sabatino got Andrew Clark to ground out to end the inning.

Notre Dame answered with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning. After Doyle lined out to shortstop, Mills broke out of his 0-for-25 slump with a towering solo home run to cut the Louisville lead to 2-1. Koch got a ground out from Boockford for the second out, but the Irish followed with three consecutive two-out singles from Hudson, Sherry and Connolly to tie the score, 2-2.

The three straight hits ended the day for Koch. Shaw came on and walked DeSico to load the bases. Casey quickly worked ahead of the count, 3-0, but Shaw rebounded with back-to-back strikes before Casey lined out to centerfield to end the inning.

Notre Dame and No. 10 Louisville return to action with the second game of the twin bill. GameTracker, live web stream, live blog and recap will be available on 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 (, and at the Frank Eck Stadium ticket windows on game day.