March 14, 2010
SAN ANTONIO, Texas Â Pacific first baseman Brian Martin came through with a clutch two-strike, two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth inning to give the Tigers a thrilling 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Notre Dame in the championship game of the 2010 Irish Baseball Classic Sunday afternoon at Wolff Stadium.
Pacific starter Jake Hummel (2-0) silenced the Irish over most of the afternoon. After allowing two unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning, the righty kept Notre Dame off the scoreboard through the eighth inning. Hummel did allow six hits, all singles, but punched out six along the way (a career- high). He actually retired the final nine batters he faced following NortonÂ¹s leadoff single in the sixth inning.
Robbie Richardson came on in the ninth inning and did allow a two-out, pinch hit single to junior Matt Scioscia, but got senior Matt Grosso to pop out to end the game. The save was his first of the season.
Sophomore Joe Spano (0-1) was charged with the loss. The southpaw allowed one earned run on one hit in 2.2 innings of work. Spano walked one and fanned a pair.
After Notre Dame plated three runs in the first inning of yesterdayÂ¹s victory over Gonzaga, the Irish grabbed an early 2-0 lead against the Tigers. Mills led off with a walk and sophomore centerfielder Alex Robinson reached on a fielderÂ¹s choice that Pacific second baseman J.B. Brown mishandled in an attempt to retire Mills at second base. Senior left fielder Ryan Connolly followed with a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Junior designated hitter Casey followed with an RBI ground out before Norton slapped a two-out RBI single back up the middle.
Irish senior starting pitcher Eric Maust cruised through the first inning, sending down the Tigers in order, but ran into a little trouble in the top of the second. After retiring the first two Pacific batters of the inning, John Haberman singled, Matt Fuson walked and Ben Gorang singled, but Fuson made too big of a turn rounding the second base bag and Mills gunned him down to end the inning before Haberman crossed home plate.
Maust retired six of his next eight and worked around a leadoff single in the top of the fourth inning to keep the Tigers off the scoreboard, but Pacific scratched a run off of Maust in the fifth. He plunked Gorang to open the inning and Joe Oliveira followed with a fly ball that dropped in between Robinson and Mills in right centerfield after the two clearly miscommunicated. Maust got Brett Christopher to fly out, but Brian Martin followed with an RBI ground out to cut the Irish lead to 2-1. Maust did evade any further damage getting a fly out to end the threat.
Pacific came out aggressive in the sixth inning as the first three batters all offered at the first pitch from Maust and all three reached on singles, including HabermanÂ¹s bloop RBI base hit that tied the score, 2-2. With two on and only one out, Maust got a fly out and fielderÂ¹s choice to keep the game knotted at 2-2.
The Tigers mounted another threat in their half of the seventh inning. Maust issued a leadoff walk, but picked off Christopher for the first out of the frame. Brian Martin singled back up the middle to end the day for the Irish senior. Spano relieved Maust and struck out Mike Walker before getting Brown to ground out to end the inning.
Spano then quickly sent down the Tigers in order in the eighth inning on just nine pitches.
Spano made it six straight Tigers retired to open the ninth, but walked Oliveira. After getting Christopher to pop out, Oliveira stole second and Martin followed with the game winning base hit.
Maust scattered nine hits and yielded two earned runs in 6.1 innings of work, but did not factor in the decision. He struck out three and walked a pair.
Notre Dame returns to South Bend tonight, but will not play again until this weekendÂ¹s home opening series against Big Ten rival Michigan State. The three-game set embarks with a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. First pitch for the twin bill is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. The series concludes on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m.