March 9, 2013
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – University of Notre Dame junior closer and All-American candidate Dan Slania worked 2.0 scoreless innings of relief to collect his third save of the season as the No. 22 Irish held off USC, 2-1, at Dedeaux Field Saturday afternoon. The Irish improved to 9-3 on the season, while the Trojans dropped to 7-7.
USC made it rather interesting on Slania in the bottom of the ninth. After cruising through the eighth and getting a routine fly out to open the final frame, the Trojans got back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with one out.
USC’s Jake Hernandez stepped to the plate with the tying run just 90 feet away and winning run at first base. Hernandez showed bunt on Slania’s first offering, but took the pitch for a ball. After bunting the second pitch of the at-bat foul, the Trojans took the bunt play off and Hernandez fouled off a fast that moved the count to 1-2. Hernandez attempted to execute a suicide squeeze with two strikes, but he popped up the bunt to Slania, who calmly flipped to third base for the game-ending twin killing.
Senior RHP Adam Norton (4-0) picked up his fourth victory in as many starts for the Irish. He limited USC to one earned run on five hits in 7.0 innings of work. Norton struck out three and walked one. He dropped his season ERA to 1.61 with his third quality start.
Slania allowed those two hits in 2.0 innings. He fanned one and did not issue a walk. Slania has not allowed a run over his first 10.0 innings in 2013.
Notre Dame took a 2-1 lead in the top of the eighth inning. Sophomore DH Ryan Bull walked and junior 3B All-American candidate Eric Jagielo singled with one out. Bull raced to third base and slid in safely just underneath the tag. The Irish aggression paid off as junior 1B All-American candidate Trey Mancini delivered a sacrifice fly to give Notre Dame its only lead of the game.
Senior 2B Frank Desico, Jagielo and Mancini all collected two hits. Jagielo and Mancini each scored a run. Jagielo hit a solo home run and Mancini picked up a go-ahead sacrifice fly.
USC grabbed the game’s first lead in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, Blake Lacey doubled over the head of Irish right fielder Zak Kutsulis. Norton got a ground out to shortstop, but Lacey was able to move to third and came around to score on Conner Sullivan’s RBI single two batters later that gave the Trojans a 1-0 lead.
Notre Dame had base runners in each of the first five innings, but was unable to take advantage. The Irish stranded five along the way, including four in scoring position.
Notre Dame tied the score, 1-1, in the top of the sixth inning thanks to the big stick of Jagielo. The left-handed hitter belted a solo home run off the scoreboard in right centerfield. The round tripper was his fourth of the season.
The Irish appeared destined to take the lead later in the inning. Mancini followed Jagielo’s bomb with a single. After senior CF Charlie Markson lined out, Kutsulis laced a line drive into the left centerfield gap. USC left fielder Timmy Robinson made a spectacular diving catch on the tailing line drive. He not only robbed Kutsulis of extra bases, likely a triple and maybe even an inside-the-park home run, but he quickly rose to his feet, hit the cutoff man and doubled up Mancini at first base to end the inning.
The Trojans took all kinds of momentum into the bottom half of the sixth inning, but Norton continued to stifle the USC attack. He retired the ensuing side in order and did the same in the home half of the seventh. In all, Norton sent down the final nine batters he faced and 15 of 17 Trojans after the first and second inning.
Lacey and Sullivan were the only Trojans with more than one hit. Lacey went 3-for-4 with a run scored and Sullivan went 2-for-3 with an RBI single.
Sean Adler was charged with the loss. He dropped to 0-1 on the year and allowed one earned run on one hit and two walks in 0.1 innings of work. Wyatt Strahan started for the Trojans, but did not factor in the decision. He allowed one earned run on seen hits in 6.0 innings. Strahan fanned four and walked one.
The Irish return to action at 10 a.m. PT Sunday against No. 10 Oklahoma at Jackie Robinson Stadium.