April 18, 2010
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. – ÂNotre Dame senior designated hitter David Mills dropped in a two-out, go-ahead RBI single and fellow senior first baseman Casey Martin followed with a two-run base hit to give the Irish a 7-4 lead in the top of the ninth inning and sophomore reliever Will Hudgins tossed a perfect ninth inning to secure a BIG EAST series sweep of Seton Hall Sunday afternoon. The Irish, who have won four consecutive games, improved to 15-19 overall and 5-7 in the BIG EAST.The Pirates drop to 13-20 and 3-9.
With the game knotted at 4-4 and two outs in the top of the ninth inning, senior Ryan Connolly ripped a single to left field. The base hit not only extended his streak of reaching base safely to 46 games, but also started a two-out Notre Dame rally.
Mike Genovese fell behind freshman second baseman Frank Desico 2-0. Seton Hall catcher Frank Esposito then registered a pass ball, which not only allowed Connolly to advance into scoring position, but also forced the Pirates to internally walk DeSico. Mills followed with a single just over the out-stretched arm of Pirates; shortstop A.J. Rusbarsky in shallow centerfield to give the Irish a 5-4 lead. Both DeSico and Mills moved up a base when Seton Hall center fielder Michael Rogers threw wildly to the plate.
Seton Hall turned to ace closer Matt Singer and he was greeted rudely by Martin, who ripped his first offering into right field for a two-run single and give Notre Dame a three-run lead, 7-4.
The three-run cushion was more than enough for Hudgins. The right-handed sidewinder, who retired the only batter he faced on one pitch in the eighth inning, sent down the Pirates in order in the ninth inning.
Hudgins improved to 3-1 on the season with the victory. He tossed 1.1 scoreless and hitless innings of relief. Hudgins retired all four batters he faced.
Mills also added 1.2 scoreless innings of relief in his third relief appearance of the weekend. The southpaw struck out two and yielded one hit.
The outings by Hudgins and Mills capped off an incredible weekend for the Notre Dame bullpen. The quartet of Hudgins, Mills, sophomore Joe Spano and senior Steven Mazur tossed 9.2 scoreless innings of relief in the series.
Mills and Martin paced the Irish offensive attack. Mills went 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Martin went 3-for-5 with a run scored and three RBI.
Ed Ras took the loss for Seton Hall. The lefty allowed three runs, two earned, on two hits in 0.1 innings of relief. He fanned one and walked one.
Notre Dame grabbed the afternoon’s first lead with a solo run in the top of the first inning. DeSico drew a one-out walk and Mills followed with a bloop single to put runners on first and second. Martin followed with a RBI single back-up-the-middle to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.
Seton Hall grabbed a 3-1 lead with a three-run bottom of the third inning. Notre Dame starter Eric Maust plunked the nine-hole hitter Chris Fontenelli on a 2-2 pitch and it came back to haunt the Irish senior. Rogers followed with a perfectly executed hit-and-run single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Fontenelli took off on the pitch and junior shortstop Mike Doyle broke toward second base to cover the bag, but Rogers grounded into the recently vacated hole by Doyle. Chris Spagnuolo followed with a towering, two-run triple that rolled all the way to the right centerfield wall (which is in the neighborhood of 435 feet from home plate). The Pirates made it 3-1 when Sean Gusrang grounded into a double play.
Seton Hall starter Jon Prosinski kept the Irish off the scoreboard over the next four innings.Notre Dame managed a couple hits along the way, but was not able to scratch any more runs.
Seton Hall added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth. Rogers singled for the third time to open the fifth and promptly stole second base. After a ground out moved Rogers to third, he scampered home on another ground out to give the Pirates a 4-1 advantage.
The Irish broke through in the top of the sixth with three runs. Senior center fielder Brayden Ashdown made it 4-2 with a bases loaded RBI single to right field and senior right fielder Billy Boockford followed with a two-run single to tie the game, 4-4.
Both pitchers were effective, but neither factored in the decision.
Maust turned in another solid outing for the Irish. He allowed four earned runs on eight hits in 6.0+ innings of work. Maust struck out one and walked two.
Prosinski tossed 7.0 innings and scattered eight hits. He surrendered four earned runs and struck out five with two walks.
Notre Dame returns to action with a two-game midweek series against Michigan. The Irish and Wolverines will open the home-and-home set in Ann Arbor on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The two rivals will then return to Notre Dame on Wednesday at 6:05 p.m.