Sophomore A.J. Pollock.

No. 24 Irish Blank IPFW, 5-0

April 23, 2008

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Freshman Ryan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) turned in the best outing of his young career and junior Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) added a career-high four hits to lead the No. 24 Irish past IPFW, 5-0, in college baseball action from Memorial Stadium Wednesday night. Notre Dame improves to 27-10-1, while the Mastodons drop to 9-25-1.

Sharpley moved to 3-1 on the year and fanned a career-best six over 6.0 innings of work (longest outing of career). Sharpley allowed just two singles and walked three. He lowered his season earned run average to 2.86 with the effort.

Sharpley struggled with his command over the first three innings, walking three, but did not allow a hit until Garrett Segraves opened the third inning with a single. After a walk and sacrifice bunt left two Mastodons in scoring position, Sharpley worked out of the jam with a lineout and ground out.

Sharpley tossed 47 pitches, just 21 for strikes, over the first three innings, but found his form in the fourth inning. He retired the first two IPFW batters on two pitches, before striking out Jimmy Gilliland on three offerings. Sharpley continued to work effectively in the fifth inning. The right-handed hurler retired the Mastodons in order once again, including a pair of strikeouts (took just 10 pitches).

Sharpley allowed another single followed by an Irish error put a pair of Mastodons on the base paths with just one out in the sixth inning, but the freshman fanned his sixth of the evening and induced a line out to close his evening.

Boockford, whose previous career-best for hits in a game was two (accomplished on 13 previous occasions), went 4-for-5 with a double and three RBI. The three runs driven in was also a career-best. Sophomore A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) added a run scored, RBI, couple hits and two stolen bases.

Sophomore Steven Mazur (Round Rock, Texas), senior Tony Langford (Fort Worth, Texas) and junior Brent Graffy (Homer Glen, Ill.) each tossed a scoreless inning of relief.

Notre Dame jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Senior Brett Lilley (North Canton, Ohio) was hit with the very first pitch of the evening for the second straight game (the 101st of his career). After sophomore Dave Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) laid down a sacrifice bunt, Pollock ripped an RBI single to left field to plate Lilley. Pollock promptly stole third base and coasted home on junior Jeremy Barnes’ (Garland, Texas) RBI ground out. Senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) then extended his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games with a single and moved into scoring position following junior Casey Martin’s (Chesterton, Ind.) walk. Boockford closed the scoring in the inning when he drove in Brezovsky with a single to right field.

The Irish plated two runs in their half of the third inning thanks to some shoddy IPFW defense. Brezovsky and Martin each reached on errors and Boockford made the Mastodons pay with a two-run double into the left centerfield gap to give Notre Dame a 5-0 lead.

The Irish pitching staff would do the rest.

IPFW starting pitcher Ben Boehne did not survive the first inning. The southpaw was tagged for three earned runs on three hits in just 0.2 innings of work. Boehne walked one and dropped to 1-2 on the season.

Notre Dame returns to action this weekend with a critical BIG EAST series against St. John’s. The Irish (12-3) hold a slim one-game lead over the Red Storm (11-4) in the conference standings. All three games can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPNU at 3:30 p.m.

— ND —