April 17, 2008
CHICAGO – Notre Dame junior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) went 3-for-4with three runs scored and a solo home run to lead the Irish past Northern Illinois, 5-4, Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Notre Dame picks up its 10th consecutive victory and improves to 23-9-1 on the season, while the Huskies drop to 15-17.
Barnes stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning and crushed Brandon Copp’s offering deep to left-center field. Northern Illinois centerfielder Pat Minogue appeared to settle underneath the long fly ball, but was not able to secure the catch and Barnes reached third base after hustling out of the box. Senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) followed with an RBI ground out to give Notre Dame a 5-4 lead.
Sophomore Steven Mazur (Round Rock, Texas) tossed a pair of scoreless innings to keep the game tied before senior Tony Langford (Fort Worth, Texas) and junior Kyle Weiland (Albuquerque, N.M.) shut the door in the eighth and ninth inning.
Langford retired the Huskies 1-2-3 in the eighth before Weiland took the ball in the ninth. The Irish closer did issue a one-out walk to Bobby Stevens, who promptly stole second to bring the tying run into scoring position, but Weiland struckout Justin Behm and got Jordin Hood to fly out to end the game.
Mazur picked up the victory in relief. The right-handed hurler improves to 1-0 after fanning two in 2.0 scoreless innings of relief. Weiland recorded his sixth save of the season, 24th of his career and fourth in the last six Notre Dame games.
Copp (1-4) was charged with the loss for the Huskies. The southpaw allowed one unearned run in 2.2 innings of work. Copp fanned three and walked two.
Both starters, freshman Ryan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) for Notre Dame and Matt Jernstad for Northern Illinois, did not render in the decision. Sharpley struggled early, allowing two first inning runs on two hits, but would not allow any further damage over the next three innings. He went 4.0 innings and allowed three earned runs on three hits. Sharpley struckout four and walked two.
Jernstad went 3.1 innings and was charged with two earned runs on five hits.
With Northern Illinois holding a 2-0 lead, Barnes led off the top of the fourth inning with a double and eventually came around to score on Gaston’s game-tying, two-run single. After the Huskies regained the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the fourth, Barnes was in the middle of the go-ahead rally.
Lilley laced a leadoff double down the left field line. Sophomore David Mills then grounded out, advancing Lilley to third base. Sophomore A.J. Pollock plated Lilley with a rocket sacrifice fly to even the score, 3-3.
Barnes then belted his second home run of the season, just adjacent to the Irish bullpen over the right field wall, to give the Irish a 4-3 advantage. The blast was measured at 386 feet to the opposite field.
The Huskies again came back and tied the game, 4-4, on Dave Reynolds sacrifice fly, but Barnes and the Notre Dame late inning relief trio of Mazur, Langford and Weiland would key the final Irish rally.
Notre Dame returns to action this weekend with a critical BIG EAST series at West Virginia opening Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Saturday’s game is scheduled to begin at 3:05 p.m. and Sunday’s first pitch is slated for 12:05 p.m. Each game can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com.
— ND —