March 11, 2009

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SAN ANTONIO – Freshman Steve Sabatino (Lockport, Ill.) struck out nine, the most by a Notre Dame freshman since 2002, en route to a victory in his first career start to lead the Irish past Grambling, 10-7, in college baseball action from Wolfe Stadium Wednesday afternoon. With the victory, the Irish improve to 7-4 on the season. The Tigers drop to 3-10.

Sabatino, who improved to 1-0 on the season, fell just shy of Chris Niesel’s freshman record punch out performance of 10 against Southern Illinois on Feb. 24, 2002. Sabatino surrendered one earned run on two hits in 5.0 innings of work.

Fellow freshman Ryan Richter (South Bend, Ind.) came on to replace Sabatino after a rain delay of one hour and five minutes. Richter pitched 3.0 solid innings of relief. The southpaw allowed one earned run on four hits. Richter fanned one and walked none.

The Irish raced out to a 5-0 lead through three innings. Sophomore Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) made it 1-0 in the second inning with an RBI single. Notre Dame pushed the lead to 2-0 on a wild pitch later in the frame.

After the Tigers drew within a run with an unearned run in the top of the third, senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) belted a three-run home run to give Notre Dame a 5-1 lead. The bomb was Barnes’ second of the season. He now leads the Irish with 13 RBI.

Notre Dame put the game out of reach with four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Irish drew three bases loaded walks and a sacrifice fly from sophomore Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.).

Notre Dame took a 10-3 lead into the top of the ninth inning. Senior Sam Elam (Mesquite, Texas) came on and struggled. The southpaw yielded four earned runs on no hits and five walks, but Barnes came on with the tying run on deck and got a fly out to register his first career save.

Barnes went 2-for-2 with three runs scored and three walks. He has now drawn six walks the last two games combined. Sherry drove in a pair.

The Irish return to action Thursday afternoon with the opening game of the 2009 Irish Classic against Illinois State. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. CT.