Junior C Joe Hudson leads the Irish with a .412 batting average.

Norton Makes Three-Run First Inning Stand In 3-2 Victory Over Pittsburgh

March 24, 2012

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior C Joe Hudson (Odessa, Fla./Tampa Jesuit) delivered a two-run single, senior DH Tommy Chase (Cohasset, Mass./Boston College H.S.) followed with an RBI squeeze bunt in Notre Dame’s three-run first inning and junior RHP Adam Norton (Highland, Ind./Andrean H.S.) pretty much did the rest as the Irish held off Pittsburgh, 3-2, Saturday afternoon from Frank Eck Stadium.

Notre Dame improved to 14-7 overall and 2-0 in the BIG EAST with its fourth straight victory, while Pittsburgh dropped to 10-10 and 0-2.

The Irish and Panthers did all of their scoring in the first inning. Pittsburgh grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the first off Norton, but Notre Dame answered with three runs of its own to grab a 3-2 lead.

Both Norton and Pittsburgh starter Ethan Mildren settled into a groove the rest of the way.

After the first inning struggles for both pitchers, Mildren retired 11 straight at one point and 14 of 15, while Norton sent down 14 of the next 15 Panthers.

In all, Mildren and Norton limited their respective foes to just three hits apiece the rest of the afternoon.

Pittsburgh threatened in the top of the ninth inning. After Norton got Boo Vazquez to fly out to left field to open the inning, sophomore RHP Dan Slania (Tucson, Ariz./Salpointe Catholic H.S.) came on to shut the door. The closer got a strikeout, but Sam Parente and Evan Oswald followed with back-to-back singles to move the tying run into scoring position.

Wilson then lined a 1-1 offering from Slania right at Irish center fielder Charlie Markson (Whitefish Bay, Wisc./Whitefish Bay H.S.), who was forced to make a game-ending, leaping one-handed catch to prevent the ball from carrying over his head. Had the liner sailed over Markson’s head, at least two Panthers score and Derik Wilson likely would have as well with an inside-the-park home run.

Norton improved to 3-1 on the season. He limited the Panthers to just a pair of earned runs on five hits in 8.1 innings of work. Norton fanned four and did not issue a walk for the fourth straight start. He has not issued a walk in 28.1 innings and has yielded just two free passes in 43.1 innings pitched this season.

Slania picked up his fifth save of the year with his second scoreless outing in as many days.

Mildren (2-1) took the hard-luck defeat. The right-handed hurler allowed three earned runs on six hits. Mildren struck out six and walked one.

Six different Irish players, including the top five in the batting order all had one hit. Hudson (two) and Chase (one) had the only RBI. Junior 2B Frank DeSico (Cleveland, Ohio/St. Ignatius H.S.), sophomore 3B Eric Jagielo (Downers Grove, Ill.,/Downers Grove North H.S.) and sophomore 1B Trey Mancini (Winter Haven, Fla./Winter Haven H.S.) each added a run scored.

The Irish have registered back-to-back victories by the slimmest of margins – one run. Notre Dame is now 5-1 this year in one-run contests.

The series will conclude at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday when the Irish will look to sweep the Panthers out of town. In-game updates will be available on twitter at @NDBaseball and facebook at NDBaseball while fans can listen to all the action locally on 103.1 FM and on the internet at UND.com.

— ND —