Senior RHP Cole Johnson.

Pittsburgh Deals Irish Another Tough One-Run Loss; Panthers Win 3-2 In 11 Innings

April 2, 2011

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Pittsburgh’s LF Casey Roche did it with his glove on Friday, making a pair of inning-ending, run-saving, diving catches in the Panthers come-from-behind 6-5 victory in the series opener. Roche used his bat to best Notre Dame on Saturday with a pair of RBI base hits, including a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 victory at Charles L. Cost Field. The Panthers improved to 15-9 overall and 3-2 in the BIG EAST, while the Irish dropped to 10-14-1 and 2-3.

Notre Dame dropped its second consecutive game to Pittsburgh by a single run. The Panthers took Friday’s opener, 6-5. In fact, the Irish have played seven straight games decided by two or fewer runs, including five of the last six by just one run. Notre Dame is now 5-7 in one-run contests.

With the game knotted, 2-2, in the bottom of the 11th, Anthony Defabio led off the inning with a single off of Notre Dame freshman LHP Anthony McIver. After Phil Konieczny executed a sacrifice bunt to move the winning run into scoring position, Roche lined a 1-1 offering from McIver off the pitcher’s glove and into short centerfield.

Irish freshman CF Eric Jagielo fielded the ball cleanly and threw a strike home, but Defabio slid safely underneath the tag of Irish sophomore C Joe Hudson.

Matt Wotherspoon picked up the victory and improved to 3-0 on the season. The right-handed hurler tossed 2.0 scoreless innings of relief. Wotherspoon allowed just one hit.

McIver took the loss and evened his record at 1-1. The southpaw surrendered one earned run on three hits in 3.0 innings of work. McIver struck out three and walked a pair.

Hudson was the only Notre Dame player to register more than one hit. He went 2-for-4 with a couple singles.

In addition to Roche’s game-winning RBI single, he added a clutch RBI double in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead. Roche fouled off six consecutive two-strike pitches from Irish senior RHP Cole Johnson before lacing a double to left centerfield.

Kevan Smith and Konieczny also added a couple hits.

Notre Dame rallied from a 2-0 deficit entering the eighth inning. Pittsburgh starter Matt Iannazzo baffled the Irish over the first seven innings. The lefty limited Notre Dame to just one hit and faced just one batter over the minimum entering the eighth inning.

Fifth-year senior RF Herman Petzold, Hudson and senior 3B Greg Sherry recorded three consecutive singles to load the bases with one out in the top of the eighth inning. Sophomore DH Adam Norton followed with a sacrifice fly to make the score, 2-1, but sophomore 2B Frank DeSico grounded out to end the inning.

The Irish then tied the game in the top of the ninth inning with a run off Panthers’ closer Ray Black. The hard-throwing righty, who touched 98 on the final pitch of Friday’s victory over the Irish, issued a leadoff walk to senior SS Mick Doyle. Jagielo followed with a sacrifice bunt. Freshman 1B Trey Mancini promptly singled off Black, through the left side of the infield.

Doyle initially did not get a good read on the grounder and appeared as though would only advance to third base, but Pittsburgh LF John Schultz made a mess of the play in the outfield. Schultz booted the ball, which allowed Doyle to score and tie the game, and then proceeded to airmail the catcher in an attempt to throw home.

Mancini ultimately ended up on third base on the play. Pinch hitter Ricky Palmer followed with a liner right back up the middle that Black fielded and got Mancini caught in a run down. Mancini kept the run down alive long enough to allow Palmer to reach second base, but Petzold struck out looking to end the threat.

Johnson and Iannazzo were matched up in a pitcher’s duel for most of the afternoon.

The game stayed scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning. Pittsburgh’s 1B David Chester roped a two-out double to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

Johnson tossed 6.2 innings and limited Pittsburgh to a pair of earned runs on six hits. He struck out four and walked just. Johnson worked into the seventh inning for the sixth straight start and collected his seventh quality outing of the season. He continues to pitch effectively despite terrible run support. Notre Dame has scored a grand total of nine runs over his last six starts and the two runs today came after Johnson left the contest.

Iannazzo was even better. The lefty limited Notre Dame to just one hit over the first seven innings, but did allow the three singles in the eighth. Iannazzo allowed one earned run on four hits in 8.0 innings of work. He struck out three and walked one.

Freshman RHP Sean Fitzgerald tossed 0.2 scoreless innings out of the Irish bullpen.

Notre Dame and Pittsburgh will return to action at Noon on Sunday at Charles L. Cost Field. The game will be broadcast live on WHME Harvest 103.1 FM and will be available on-line at Live stats will be available on GameTracker.

As always, please visit regularly for full coverage of all Notre Dame athletics news and events.

— ND —