April 17, 2010
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – Â Notre Dame got a quality start from sophomore Steve Sabatino and the bullpen tossed 2.2 hitless and scoreless innings of relief to lead the Irish to a 2-1 victory over Seton Hall in BIG EAST baseball action Saturday afternoon. Notre Dame has now captured its first conference series of the year.
The Irish improved to 14-19 overall and 4-7 in the league, while the Pirates drop to 13-19 and 3-8.
Sabatino equalled his season-long outing with 6.1 innings and improved to 3-4. The southpaw allowed one earned run on just five hits. Sabatino struck out four and walked three.
Sabatino walked the final two batters he faced in the seventh and left the game with a 2-1 lead with two on and one out, but the trio of sophomore Will Hudgins, sophomore Joe Spano and senior David Mills made the lead stand.
Hudgins relieved Sabatino and got a ground out and fly out to end the seventh; stranding the tying and go-ahead run in scoring position. Spano posted a strikeout and fly out, but walked a pair. Mills came on with two on, two out and the tying run in scoring position, but fanned Ryan Sullivan to end the eighth.
Mills remained in the game and sent down the Pirates 1-2-3 in the ninth to pick up his second save of the week and the year.
Senior first baseman Casey Martin was the only player in the game, including both clubs, to register a multi-hit game. Martin went 2-for-4 with a double and run scored. Mills went 1-for-4 with a critical two-out RBI single, while senior right fielder Billy Boockford went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Seton Hall rookie Frank Morris (1-3) picked up the tough luck defeat. The right-handed hurler allowed just two earned runs on six hits in 7.0 innings of work. Morris struck out one and walked two.
Notre Dame grabbed the game’s first lead with a solo run in the top of the third inning. Junior catcher Cameron McConnell hammered a leadoff double into the left centerfield gap to open the frame. After freshman third baseman Adam Norton grounded out, senior left fielder Ryan Connolly fouled out and freshman second baseman Frank Desico drew a walk, Mills ripped a belt high fast ball to right field for an RBI single to give the Irish a 1-0 lead. The two-out RBI was Mills’ first of the season. Notre Dame was not able to do any more damage as DeSico was picked off to end the inning.
Seton Hall answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the third, due in large part to Sabatino’s error on a sacrifice bunt. Michael Rogers opened the inning with an infield single. Rogers hit a roller right at Martin at first base, but the Pirates’ leadoff batter out-raced Sabatino to first. A.J. Rusbarsky followed with a sacrifice bunt, but Sabatino mishandled the ball in a rush to try and nail Rogers at second base. He did fan Frank Esposito, but Sean Gusrang followed with an RBI single to tie the score, 1-1. Sabatino limited the damage to that one run after getting a pair of fly outs to end the inning.
Sabatino, who needed 64 pitches to get through the first three innings, settled down and cruised through the fourth and fifth. He sent down the Pirates in order in both innings and needed just 17 pitches to do so. Sabatino actually retired eight consecutive Seton Hall batters at one point.
The Irish did regain a one-run lead with a solo tally in the top of the fifth inning. Martin dropped in a bloop single to center and junior shortstop Mike Doyle reached on a hit-by-pitch. Senior centerfielder Brayden Ashdown dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third with one out. Boockford followed with an RBI ground out to give the Irish a 2-1 advantage. McConnell could not add to the Notre Dame lead after grounding out to end the inning with a runner at third base.
Sabatino worked around a one-out double in the Seton Hall sixth inning. He needed just six pitches to retire the side.
The Irish return to action on Sunday afternoon against Seton Hall. First pitch is slated for 12:00 p.m. Senior Eric Maust will take the mound for Notre Dame.