March 29, 2009
PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Notre Dame scored runs in seven of the nine innings and drilled four home runs, but it was not enough to overcome Pittsburgh’s seven-run third and four-run fifth as the Panthers held off the Irish, 14-11, in BIG EAST baseball action from Trees Field Sunday afternoon. Notre Dame dropped to 15-10 overall and 2-4 in the league, while Pittsburgh improved to 15-7 and 4-2.
The Irish did not go quietly in the top of the ninth inning. Junior Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.) walked and sophomore Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) followed with a double, his third hit of the afternoon. Sophomore Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) then belted his first career home run – a three run shot off Pitt reliever Joe Leonard to cut the Panthers lead to 14-11.
Junior Ryne Intlekofer (Moorpark, Calif.) then walked. After junior pinch hitter Matt Grosso (Hebron, Conn.) struck out, junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) singled to bring the tying run to the plate in junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.), but the centerfielder popped out for the second out of the inning. Sophomore Matt Scioscia (Westlake Village, Calif.) then absolutely hammered a 1-0 offering from Leonard that appeared headed to left field for an RBI single that would have brought Notre Dame within two runs, 14-12, but Pittsburgh shortstop Danny Lopez leapt and snagged the liner to end the game.
Intlekofer and Sherry each had three hits for the Irish. Sherry went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two doubles. Intlekofer went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI, including his first career home run – a solo shot that gave the Irish a 3-2 lead in the top of the second inning.
Mills, Pollock, senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) and sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) also chipped in with two hits apiece. Pollock went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI, including a two-run bomb that gave Notre Dame a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Barnes added a solo home run, while McConnell drove in four.
Despite the offensive outburst for the Irish, it was not enough to overcome a Pittsburgh lineup that also collected 17 hits. The Panthers hit three home runs of their own, including a three-run bomb from Nathan Hood for the second consecutive day. Morgan Kielty went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBI. Kielty has 92 career RBI and 17 have come against Notre Dame in 13 career games played against the Irish. Chris Sedon went 3-for-5 with four runs scored and three RBI, including a solo home run.
Notre Dame simply could not keep the Panthers down. The Irish held leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the first and second inning, but Pittsburgh exploded for seven runs on nine hits in the third inning off junior Eric Maust (Alpharetta, Ga.).
The Irish battled to climb back within three runs, 9-6, after scoring two in the fourth and one in the fifth. Notre Dame appeared to have drawn within two runs, 9-7, on Martin’s home run down the left field line, but somehow the mammoth shot was called foul.
After Maust retired the Panthers in order in the fourth, Pittsburgh answered with four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Sedon and John Schultz added RBI doubles and Kielty belted a two-run home run off Notre Dame reliever Brian Dupra (Rochester, N.Y.) to extend the Panthers lead to 13-6.
Maust was roughed up for 11 earned runs on 14 hits in 4.0 innings of work. He dropped to2-2 on the season.
Kevin Dooley (1-0) was credited with the victory. Dooley was the only Panthers pitcher to work effectively. The southpaw tossed 1.1 scoreless innings of relief and surrendered one hit.
Dupra limited Pittsburgh to a pair of earned runs on three hits in his four innings of work, but both hits were home runs. He struck out three, walked one and gave the Irish an opportunity to come back. Notre Dame scored single runs in the sixth and seventh before plating three in the ninth to make it interesting.
The Irish stranded 11 on the base paths, one day after leaving a season-high 12.
Notre Dame returns to action at Frank Eck Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday for a pair of non-conference games against Michigan State and Toledo. First pitch for Tuesday’s game is slated for 6:05 p.m. while Wednesday’s is scheduled for 5:05 p.m.