March 15, 2009
SAN ANTONIO – Junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) tossed a scoreless eighth inning, opened a three-run ninth with a single and followed with another scoreless ninth to lead Notre Dame past Trinity University, 11-8, in college baseball action from the 2009 Irish Classic Saturday evening. Notre Dame improved to 8-5 on the season, while the Tigers drop to 8-13.
Mills (1-0) tossed 2.0 scoreless and hitless innings of relief to secure the victory. The southpaw struck out a pair and walked one. Mills entered the game after the Tigers plated eight runs over the sixth and seventh inning, but shut the door as Notre Dame scored the final six runs of the night.
Mills opened the three-run eighth inning with a one-out single to center field. Junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) followed with his third base hit of the game, placing runners at the corners with one out. Senior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) was hit by new Trinity reliever Eric Binder to load the bases and junior Brayden Ashdown (Tucson, Ariz.) drew a walk to give Notre Dame a 9-8 advantage. Sophomore Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) then stepped to the plate and delivered with a two-out, two-run single to give the Irish a three-run cushion, 11-8.
Mills would make the lead stand.
Mike Hunter was charged with the loss for the Tigers. He was roughed up for six earned runs on eight hits in just 2.1 innings of work.
Pollock paced the 12-hit Notre Dame attack. He went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBI and a stolen base. Senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) and sophomore Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) each added a pair of hits. McConnell drove in a career-high tying three, as did Doyle. Barnes drove in a pair.
Freshman Joe Spano (Verona, N.J.) started for Notre Dame and did not factor in the decision. The southpaw went 5.1 innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits. He walked four and fanned three. Sophomore Todd Miller (Franklin, Tenn.) struggled and surrendered one earned run on three hits in 1.0 inning. Freshman Will Hudgins (Richmond, Va.) also struggled. He allowed two earned runs on three hits in 0.2 innings of work.
With the Irish trailing 8-5 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Pollock laced a one-out single to center and promptly stole second. After Sharpley drew a walk, Barnes singled to plate Pollock and bring Notre Dame within two runs, 8-6. Junior Matt Grosso (Hebron, Conn.) pinch hit for senior Ryan Connolly (Binghamton, N.Y.) and popped out, but Doyle drew a walk and McConnell followed with a two-run single on Hunter’s first offering of the at-bat to tie the game, 8-8.
The Irish and Spano escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first inning. After the Tigers loaded the bases on a walk, hit batter and single, Spano got Kyle Felix to ground out into an inning-ending double play.
Spano worked around another bases-loaded jam in the third inning. The southpaw allowed a leadoff double before issuing a pair of walks. Spano followed with a huge strikeout of Jordan Pennington, who homered twice earlier in the week against Illinois State, then got Felix to ground back right to the mound. Spano fielded the dribbler, but his throw was low and Sharpley made a great pick at first base to save at least one run.
Trinity finally broke through on Spano in the top of the sixth inning. Pennington led off the sixth with a solo home run, his third in the Tigers last three games and fifth on the season. After Spano issued a one-out walk, Ryan Jones hammered his first home run of the season to push the Trinity lead to 3-0.
The Irish answered with a five-run explosion on their half of the sixth inning. Sophomore Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) broke up Ben Klimesh’s no-hitter with a seeing-eye single. Sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) followed with a perfectly placed bunt single. After Mills walked to load the bases with no outs, Pollock ripped a two-run single back up the middle to bring Notre Dame within a run, 3-2. Sharpley followed with a fielder’s choice, but Barnes tied the score, 3-3, with a clutch two-out single. Connolly then legged out an infield bunt single to re-load the bases. Doyle gave the Irish a 4-3 lead with a sacrifice fly and McConnell followed with a two-out RBI single to make it 5-3.
The Tigers stole the momentum right back from Notre Dame with a five-run top of the seventh inning to regain an 8-5 lead. Trinity used three straight two-out, two-strike base hits to plate the final four runs of the inning.
Notre Dame will play a doubleheader (one nine inning and one seven) with Texas-Pan American on Sunday morning starting at 10:00 a.m. CT. The Irish will return to South Bend for their home opener on Tuesday, March 17 against Mid-American Conference rival Ball State. First-pitch is slated for 5:05 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day.