May 15, 2009
QUEENS, N.Y. –
Senior Jeremy Barnes had a four hit night that included a two-run homer to lead a potent Irish attack past St. John’s by a score of 15-8 in college baseball action Friday night at Jack Kaiser Stadium. Notre Dame slugged its record to 33-20 (15-11 BIG EAST) on the season, while St. John’s moves to 28-20 (15-11 BE) for the year. The Irish have now won seven of their last eight, including four straight. Leading 4-3 after four innings of play, the Irish used a six run fifth to take control of the game and eventually secure the victory.
The Irish continued their recent power tear at the plate with 16 hits, including homers by Barnes (Garland, Texas) and A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.). Barnes went 4-for-6 with a homer and two doubles to go along with three RBI, while Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) went 3-for-5 with a triple and two RBI. Eight of Notre Dame’s nine starters recorded at least one hit. Pollock, Ryan Connolly (Binghamton, N.Y.), Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) and Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) all had two RBI nights as the Irish produced their highest run total of the season.
On the mound, sophomore right-hander Brian Dupra (Rochester, N.Y.) earned his sixth win of the season (6-5) as he went six innings, allowed nine hits and five earned runs but limited a previously potent SJU lineup by not issuing a walk and also recording three strikeouts. Dupra gave way to junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.), who came on to pitch the final three innings, recording the first save of his career in the process. Bruce Kern (4-4) took the loss for the Red Storm.
After giving up a run in both the bottom of the first and the second, the Irish tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the third. With one out in the inning, Tate roped one down the first base line that deflected off of SJU first baseman Tim Morris for the sophomore’s second single in as many at bats. Barnes then jacked his 12th homer of the year as he took a fastball over the scoreboard in left centerfield to tie the game. It marked Barnes’ second homer in as many days and gave the senior 62 RBI for the season. Though Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) skied one to right field on the next pitch, SJU right fielder Carlos Del Rosario caught the ball against the fence to record the long out. Ashdown reached on a dropped third strike. Connolly then fouled out to the first baseman to end the inning, but the Irish bats were just getting started.
St. John’s answered with a run in the bottom of the third to take the lead back, 3-2. Jimmy Parque knocked in Brian Kemp for the go-ahead run on a sac fly to left.
Notre Dame then took a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way in the top of the fourth. Doyle drilled an infield hit to the shortstop, Gino Matias, for Notre Dame’s sixth hit of the night. Next up, McConnell sent one to shallow center that SJU centerfielder Parque made a diving catch on to take away a base hit. With two outs, Pollock stepped to the dish and smacked his eighth round-tripper of the year, also to left. He recorded RBI 44 and 45 on the blast.
Dupra kept the Red Storm off the board in the bottom half of the fourth and the Irish lineup rewarded him with six runs in the top of the fifth inning to blow the game open. The red Storm sent Eddie Medina to the hill to pitch the fifth, and Barnes greeted him with a towering fly ball to left, where SJU leftfielder Kemp lost it in the sun. The ball dropped in for a double, as Barnes raced around to second on the play. Next, Sharpley walked on a wild pitch that also allowed Barnes to take third. Ashdown hit a first-pitch sac fly to center, scoring Barnes to give the Irish a 5-3 lead. Connolly and Doyle then walked to load the bases. McConnell promptly lined the first pitch he saw to center to plate Sharpley and Connolly. Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) came to the plate with runners on the corners and head coach Dave Schrage elected to manufacture the next run as he had his second baseman lay a bunt down the first base line that eluded the pitched for a successful squeeze play.
The Red Storm intentionally walked Pollock next, bringing Tate to the plate with runners at first and second with two down. Tate laced one over the right fielder’s head and raced all the way around to record his fourth triple of the year and. With two RBI, he tied his single game career high mark on the hit. His triple put the Irish up, 10-3 and chased Medina from the mound. Barnes, who got the fourth inning started, fouled out to end the inning.
With Notre Dame tacking on another run in the top of the sixth, off of Doyle’s first sac fly of the night, and St. John’s plating two in the bottom of the sixth, the Irish led 11-5 through seven innings of play. In the top of the eighth, they added four more insurance runs that would prove useful by the end of the game.
After Tate walked to lead off the eighth, Barnes laced a double to centerfield that scored Tate. The RBI moved Barnes to sixth all-time on the Notre Dame career RBI list. Sharpley followed with an infield hit, moving Barnes to third and Brayden Ashdown (Tucson, Ariz.) walked to load the bases. Connolly blooped one to right to score Barnes and Shapley, giving Notre Dame a 14-5 lead. Gabe Guerrero came in for St. John’s to face Doyle, who greeted the pitcher by hitting his eighth sac fly of the year, scoring Ashdown. McConnell had a base hit through the right side for his second consecutive multi-hit game, but the Irish were done scoring for the inning.
St. John’s produced three runs (one of which was unearned) over the final two innings to close the gap but Mills finished off the game with a strikeout of Matias to earn the save.
The Irish finish their three-game series with St. John’s tomorrow, May 16 with a 1:00 p.m. start at Jack Kaiser Stadium. The game will conclude the regular season for both teams, but they will face each other again in the BIG EAST tournament. Tomorrow’s winner will take fourth place in the league and the loser will finish fifth. Junior right-hander Eric Maust (Alpharetta, Ga.) is slated to make the start for Notre Dame, while Nick Cenatiempo, also a righty, will start on the hill for the Red Storm. Earlier in the day, Louisville completed a doubleheader sweep of USF to take the BIG EAST regular season title and claim the first overall seed in the upcoming tournament.