April 6, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame junior 1B and All-American candidate Trey Mancini collected a career-high six RBI, four coming on a go-ahead grand slam, to lead the No. 20 Fighting Irish past Villanova, 11-8, Saturday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium. Notre Dame improves to 19-9 overall and 4-4 in the BIG EAST, while the Wildcats drop to 8-21 and 0-5.
Mancini provided the game-changing swing in the bottom of the sixth inning. With the Irish trailing Villanova, 6-4, and the bases loaded with one out, fellow junior All-American candidate Eric Jagielo was plunked to cut the Notre Dame deficit to 6-5. The Wildcats went to the bullpen and called upon JB Kole. The right-handed reliever tried to sneak a 1-1 fast ball past Mancini and the decision proved costly.
Mancini belted his fourth round tripper of the season well over the wall in left centerfield to give the Irish a 9-6 advantage. The grand slam was the second in the last seven days for Notre Dame, who entered this season without a grand slam since 2010.
Mancini added an RBI ground out and sacrifice fly. The six RBI were the most by an Irish player since Evan Sharpley had six in a 25-1 rout of Georgetown on March 20, 2008. Mancini was just one RBI shy of the Notre Dame single-game school record of seven, which has been equaled on seven previous occasions by seven different players. Steve Sollman, who was the last Irish player to drive in seven runs, accomplished the feat during another 25-1 rout (this one occurred against South Alabama in the 2002 NCAA South Bend Regional).
Mancini had an opportunity to equal the record in the bottom of the eighth inning with the potential tying run standing just 90 feet away, but he took four straight pitches well out of the strike zone for a four-pitch walk.
Mancini’s blast made a winner out of senior RHP Adam Norton, who improved to 7-0 on the season. Norton did not have his best stuff, but managed to work 6.0 innings and allowed six runs, only three earned, on 10 hits. He struck out seven and walked a pair.
Junior RHP Donnie Hissa picked up his second save of the season with 3.0 solid innings of relief. He did allow a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning, but struck out five and surrendered just a pair of hits.
Senior 2B Frank Desico registered his second straight multi-hit game after snapping out of a 0-for-24 slump. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI. Freshman SS Lane Richards went 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored, while senior CF Charlie Markson and junior C Forrest Johnson had two hits apiece. Markson went 2-for-3 with a couple runs scored, while Johnson went 2-for-3 with a run scored and RBI. The multi-hit outing for Johnson was the first of his career after 18 one-hit games.
Stephen Ostapeck was charged with the loss and dropped to 0-4 on the season. He was roughed up for seven runs, all earned, on 10 hits in 5.1 innings. Ostapeck struck out two and walked two. Kole allowed three runs, two earned, on two hits in 1.2 innings of work.
Notre Dame jumped out to a 1-0 first-inning lead. Jagielo ripped a one-out single to center field and freshman RF Zak Kutsulis raced all the way to third base. Jagielo also moved into scoring position on the throw to third base. Mancini followed with an RBI ground out.
The Irish added a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning to extend their lead to 3-0. Richards and Markson collected back-to-back singles with one out. The duo then executed a double steal to perfection. Markson took off for second base and when Villanova catcher John Cialone threw down in an attempt to retire Markson, Richards scampered home. Two batters later, DeSico ripped an RBI single back up the middle to plate Markson.
Villanova struck for a run in the top of the fourth inning that cut the Irish lead to 3-1. Max Beerman hammered a towering solo home run to lead off the frame. After Norton got a pair of outs, the Wildcats collected consecutive base hits, but Norton picked up a critical strikeout to end the threat.
The Wildcats took advantage of some sloppy Irish defense in the top of the fifth inning to grab a 4-3 lead. After the Wildcats opened the frame with back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners, Norton got a ground ball back to the mound that he mishandled and kicked into foul territory that allowed a run to score. Villanova then attempted a sacrifice bunt, but Norton quickly got off the mound and gunned down the lead runner at third base.
With runners on first and second, one out and Notre Dame clinging to a one-run advantage (3-2), Norton induced a pop fly to shallow left field. Richards ranged out from shortstop and Bull coasted in from left field, and the ball dropped right in between the two Irish fielders to load the bases with one out.
Norton picked up a strikeout, but Eric Lowe followed with a two-out double that evaded a charging Kutsulis in right field. Two runs scored on the base hit, but Kutsulis did rebound to chase down the ball, spot the cutoff man DeSico, who threw a strike to Johnson at home to gun down a potential third run.
Notre Dame drew even, 4-4, on Mancini’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth, but the Wildcats regained the lead in their half of the sixth inning with a pair of runs. Steve Schrenk made it 5-4 with an RBI single and Brandon Carr pushed the lead to 6-4 with a sacrifice fly.
The lead was short lived as Mancini struck in the bottom of the sixth.
Sophomore RHP Matt Ternowchek takes the mound for the Irish at 1:05 p.m. Sunday in the series finale at Frank Eck Stadium.
— ND —