May 16, 2009
QUEENS, N.Y. – Junior A.J. Pollock went deep twice for Notre Dame and senior Ryan Connollly added his third home run of the weekend, but it was not enough to overcome a 14-hit attack by the Red Storm as St. John’s rallied to take the final game of the game of a three game series by a score of 10-6 in college baseball action Saturday afternoon at Jack Kaiser Stadium. Notre Dame moves to 33-21 (15-12 BIG EAST) on the season, while St. John’s improves to 29-20 (16-11 BE) for the year.
The win means that St. John’s, as the fourth seed, will face fifth-seeded Notre Dame at the upcoming BIG EAST tournament in Clearwater, Fla. The game will be played on Tuesday, May 19 at 10:00 a.m.
Already leading by a score of 6-3, St. John’s scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh to pull away from the Irish. The Red Storm featured a balanced offense that included hits by eight players and two RBI apiece by Jimmy Parque, Tim Morris, Joe Panik and Matt Wessinger.
Junior right-hander Eric Maust (Alpharetta, Ga.) took the loss for the Irish after going three innings, allowing seven hits and three earned runs. He is now 5-3 on the season. Reliever Brendan Lobban, who came on to pitch the fourth and fifth innings, was credited with the win for the Red Storm. Nick Cenatiempo was scheduled to start for St. John’s, but he was held back for the BIG EAST tournament. Miguel Valcarcel got the start instead.
Aside from Pollock (Hebron, Conn.), who finished with three RBI, and Connolly (Binghamton, N.Y.), the Irish offense was led by starting catcher Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.), who had two RBI on the day and third baseman Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.), who went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored.
St. John’s took a 1-0 lead in the first when Brian Kemp scored on a single by Panik. Notre Dame answered to tie it up in the top of the second. Doyle grounded to deep in the hole for a base knock with two outs and McConnell recorded his first RBI of the afternoon with a single to center.
St. John’s plated two in the bottom of the third. Matias hit and RBI double to left centerfield to make it 3-1. He was then gunned down at the plate as right fielder Brayden Ashdown (Tucson, Ariz.) fired a throw home to notch his second outfield assist of the year, with McConnell applying a crafty tag after blocking the plate upon the arrival of the throw. Next up, Parque drilled what looked to be a sure double to the gap in left centerfield, but Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) dove to his left to end the inning.
The Irish got one back in the top of the fourth off of new SJU pitcher Brendan Lobban. Ashdown greeted the lefty with a single to left, followed by a walk to Connolly. Doyle knocked a base hit to right to load the bases. McConnell then got his second RBI of the day on a fielder’s choice. It was the catcher’s 31st RBI of the season and his fifth of the series.
Steve Sabatino took over for the Irish in the fourth and gave up a sac fly off the bat of Panik to see St. John’s take a 5-2 lead. The lead grew to 6-2 when SJU plated another in the bottom of the fifth when Hopkins, who had reached on a single down the third base line, came around to score after advancing on error and a bunt.
Stephen Rivera took the mound for the Red Storm in the sixth and sat down the Irish in order. Sabatino worked around a walk to also keep SJU off the board in the sixth.
The Irish pulled to within a 6-3 margin in the seventh when Pollock smacked a line drive home run to left centerfield for his second homer of the series and the ninth of his season.
But, with senior Sam Elam (Mesquite, Texas) in to pitch, St. John’s used three singles, a leadoff walk and an Irish error to pull away with a four run seventh. Elam struck out Paul Karmas looking and second baseman Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) made a diving catch in shallow right with his back to the plate for the final two outs of the inning.
Connolly blasted his fourth home run of the season, and third of the series, to leadoff the eighth. The blast kept alive Notre Dame’s streak of multiple home run games at five.
With two outs in the eighth, Pollock laced his second home run in as many at bats to left, giving him 10 round-trippers for the year. With Doyle on base after earning a walk, the two-run shot gave Pollock RBI numbers 47 and 48 on the season. With his two home runs on the day, Pollock became just the 10th player in program history with at least ten homers and 10 stolen bases in a single season, as he currently has 19 steals. It was also the first two home run game of his Irish career.
Will Hudgins (Richmond, Va.) came in to pitch a 1-2-3 eighth, but the Irish drew no closer in the ninth and the game ended 10-6 in favor of St. John’s.
The Irish will head to Clearwater, Fla. to take part in the 2009 BIG EAST Tournament. As the fifth seed, Notre Dame will have an immediate rematch with fourth-seeded St. John’s at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 19. Updated notes and recaps of Notre Dame’s performance at the 2009 BIG EAST Championship will be available at und.com.