March 23, 2013

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South Bend, Ind. – Notre Dame senior RHP Adam Norton allowed two earned runs in 7.2 innings and improved to 6-0, while junior closer Dan Slania earned a four-out save as the Irish withstood a late Seton Hall rally to win their first BIG EAST game of the season, 3-2. The Irish (13-6, 1-1 BIG EAST) used sacrifice bunts and stolen bases to push three runs across home plate to top the Pirates (8-11, 1-1) in the first game of a doubleheader at Coveleski Stadium.

Norton (6-0) pounded the strike zone and induced poor contact from Seton Hall hitters to continue his impressive campaign. Seventy of his 89 pitches went for strikes. Meanwhile, Seton Hall starter Josh Prevost (1-1), who took the loss, only lasted three innings and allowed two runs.

Norton cruised through his first 6.2 innings, facing one batter over the minimum, as he induced a pair of ground ball double plays. He then worked his way out of trouble in the seventh inducing an inning ending ground out following back-to-back two out singles.

What turned out to be the game deciding run for the Irish was also set up via a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the seventh. Junior C Forrest Johnson led off the frame with a double down the left field line before advancing to third on a senior 2B Frank Desico bunt. Pirates LHP Ricky Mangione then entered the game and uncorked a wild pitch that scored Johnson and extended the Irish lead to 3-0 at the time.

However, Norton ran into trouble in the eighth. He yielded a leadoff single to Mike Genovese before Zack Weigel’s ground ball deflected off of his glove for an infield hit. With one out, Zack Granite snuck an RBI double past the third base bag, putting runners on second and third. Chris Seldon, who entered the contest leading both squads with a .410 batting average, cut the Pirates’ deficit to 3-2 with an RBI ground out to third.

Slania then entered and proceeded to end the threat after Scott Kalamar popped out.

In the ninth, Slania surrendered a leadoff infield single before retiring the next two batters. With two out and the tying run on second, Slania painted a 91-mph fastball over the inside corner for a called third strike to earn his sixth save.

The Irish started the scoring in the first when DeSico (1-for-2, two runs scored) led off the contest with a walk and sophomore LF Mac Hudgins singled. With one out, junior 1B Trey Mancini launched a fly ball to the 12-foot wall in left field, which was deep enough for DeSico to score from third.

The Irish manufactured another run in the third as DeSico led off the inning with a line-drive single to center before swiping second for his eighth stolen bag of the year. He later scored on an RBI-groundout by junior 3B Eric Jagielo (2-for-4).

The Irish squandered other opportunities to add runs as they left eight runners on base for the game. In the fourth inning, freshman RF Zak Kutsulis and freshman SS Lane Richards reached base and were sacrificed to second and third on a bunt by senior CF Charlie Markson. However, both Johnson and DeSico popped out to end the scoring threat.

Norton’s 7.2-inning outing marked the fifth time in his six starts this season that he has pitched at least 7.0 innings.

The first BIG EAST series of the season for Notre Dame and Seton Hall concludes in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday night at 7:25 p.m.