April 6, 2007
CINCINNATI – The Notre Dame baseball team was hit by a quick case of deja-vu in Friday’s game at Cincinnati, as the Irish allowed three unearned runs for the second straight night while losing by the same score (4-3) as in Thursday’s series opener. Unlike the first game, the Irish faced an early deficit but did manage to forge a 3-3 tie in the top of the 6th before seeing the Bearcats score the decisive run moments later.
Sophomore righthandeer David Phelps (4-3) – who entered the week ranked 15th nationally in ERA (1.58) and now has pitched well enough to win all eight of his starts – went the full 8.0 innings for the Irish, striking out seven while allowing just one earned run on seven hits and a pair of walks. Phelps recorded 19 of his 24 outs via Ks, groundouts (10, including a double-play ball), infield popups (1) and pickoffs (1).
Cincinnati sophomore lefty Dan Osterbrock (5-1) did not walk a batter in his 9.0-inning stint while limiting the Irish to three runs and five hits, plus seven strikeouts of his own. The most consistent member of Cincinnati’s 2007 staff located 76% of his pitches for strikes (88 of 116) and allowed just one leadoff baserunner.
Notre Dame’s 51 errors and 18 passed balls have proved costly throughout the 1007 season, as nearly one-third of the opposition’s runs (46 of 145; 32%) have come unearned. Friday’s game marked the seventh time this season that unearned runs have provided Notre Dame’s margin of defeat. The Irish are 10-1 when scoring 5-plus runs this season but just 3-15 when scoring four or fewer.
Senior centerfielder Danny Dressman scored the first Irish run and later added a game-tying single. Dressman went 2-for-4 but the rest of the Irish players combined for just a 3-for-27 night.
A dropped foul ball helped plate an unearned run for the Bearcats in the opening frame, followed by a passed ball in the second inning that led to another unearned run. The game’s final run also came unearned, after a throwing error on catcher Matt Weglarz.
Notre Dame has hit just .240 in the eight games started by Phelps while totaling 39 runs (4.9 per game), with 16 of those runs coming in the win over then-#7 Nebraska (ND has totaled just 23 runs, 3.3/gm, in the other seven Phelps starts). The Academic All-America candidate actually has been tagged for more unearned runs (10) than earned runs (9) in his eight starts, with his season stats now including a 1.51 ERA, better than a 3-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (46/15), a .232 opponent batting average and eight more innings pitched (53.2) than hits allowed (46).
In addition to Friday’s frustrating defeat, Phelps also had a no-decision in the early 2-1 loss to Texas State – he allowed a solo home run that tied the game and later watched a rare catchers-interference play help the winning run come around to score – and he allowed just one earned run (two unearned) in the 3-0 loss to Sacred Heart. The pitcher who opposed him that day, SHU senior RHP Jay Monti, entered this week with a nation-leading 0.28 season ERA (among pitchers with at least five games started). Nearly half of the earned runs allowed by Phelps this season (4 of 9) came in last week’s 4-2 loss at Pittsburgh, after receiving minimal run support in that game.
Dressman won an 11-pitch battle to start Notre Dame’s run-scoring sequence in the 5th, pulling a leadoff single through the right side before stealing second and taking third on a double-steal along with fellow co-captain Mike Dury (who was plunked by Osterbrock on a 2-2 pitch). Both runners were able to take an extra base after the steal, due to catcher Ryan Baker sailing his throw down the leftfield line. Dury then took third when Weglarz sent a flyball deep into the left-center gap and freshman rightfielder Brayden Ashdown delivered with 2-outs by slapping an 0-1 pitch up the middle to produce a one-run game (3-2).
One inning later, junior leftfielder Ross Brezovsky drove a 1-0 pitch down the leftfield line for an opposite-field double. Osterbrock followed with a strikeout but Dressman tied the game in his own lefty-lefty matchup, going with the next pitch for a 2-out single to left-center.
Notre Dame (13-16; 1-6 BIG EAST) 0-0-0 0-2-1 0-0-0 – 3 5 2
Cincinnati (17-13; 4-4 BIG EAST) 2-1-0 0-0-1 0-0-X – 4 7 1
Doubles: Ross Brezovsky (ND), Josh Harrison (CIN), Michael Earley (CIN).