Junior Brittany O'Donnell

Notre Dame Holds Off Cleveland State, 6-5

April 19, 2012

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Back-to-back home runs by Amy Buntin and Dani Miller propelled Notre Dame to a 6-5 win over Cleveland State in a non-conference softball game Thursday at Melissa Cook Stadium.

Irish pitcher Brittany O’Donnell earned the win to improve to 8-5 while Laura Winter retired the final seven batters in order as the Irish (23-13) held on to defeat the Vikings (13-31).

Trailing 2-1 in the third, the Irish took advantage of a Cleveland State miscue to stage a two-out rally to take the lead for good. With two outs and a runner on second, Emilee Koerner sent a hard grounder to Vikings first baseman Dara Toman as the ball ricocheted off her glove into the outfield. Cassidy Whidden scored from second on the error to tie the game at 2-2.

Buntin stepped into the box and sent a liner over the fence in center for a two-run home run to give the Irish a 4-2 lead. Miller followed with a solo shot to right-center on a 1-0 pitch to give the Irish back-to-back home runs for the first time on the season. Buntin and Miller lead the Irish with seven and eight home runs on the season, respectively.

The Irish played smallball to add a run in the fourth that would prove to be the deciding tally in the game. After Whidden and Chloe Saganowich led off the inning with singles, Jenna Simon nearly beat out a sacrifice bunt down the third base line, advancing the runners to second and third. Kelsey Thornton then sent a sacrifice fly to center to increase the Irish lead to 6-2.

The Vikings used the longball to put the outcome in question in the fifth with a three-run inning against Winter. Winter replaced O’Donnell, who allowed two runs on four hits in 4.0 innings.

With two away, Andrea Nagy laced an RBI single to left and Sara Shields sent a towering two-run home run to left to cut the Irish lead to one.

Winter settled down and reverted to her dominant form, retiring the last seven hitters in a row to end the game. Winter struck out four straight over that span, including three batters in the sixth. Nine of her 10 pitches in the sixth found the strike zone.

The Irish struck first to start the game, taking an early 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Koerner.

O’Donnell ran into trouble in the third as a double by the Vikings’ leading hitter Dara Toman, who entered the contest with a .422 batting avg. and 18 home runs, put runners on second and third with one out. Megan Bashak followed Toman with a two-run double to the gap in left-center to give the Vikings a 2-1 lead.

Megan Bashak (3-13) was charged with the loss for Cleveland State, allowing six runs – two earned – in 6.0 innings.

While no Irish batters finished with a multi-hit game, seven of the nine batters contributed one hit.

Notre Dame remains at home this weekend to play host to DePaul for a three-game BIG EAST Conference series beginning with a noon (ET) doubleheader on Saturday. Live video, audio and stats will be available at UND.com.