May 12, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Five Notre Dame errors led to five unearned runs as Rutgers spoiled Senior Day for the Irish with an 11-6 victory Saturday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium. Notre Dame dropped to 26-23 overall and 12-11 in the BIG EAST, while the Scarlet Knights improved to 28-21 and 13-10.
Rutgers moved back into sole possession of sixth place in the league standings, while the Irish stand seventh. Notre Dame holds a one-game lead and tiebreaker over eighth place Villanova.
Rob Smorol picked up the victory with 6.0 solid innings. The southpaw struck out six and walked five, but limited the Irish to just three runs, only one earned, on five hits. Smorol improved to 7-3 on the year.
Dan O’Neill picked up his fourth save of the season after tossing the final 3.0 innings of the game. He yielded four hits and three runs, all earned.
Notre Dame junior RHP Adam Norton was tagged with the loss and dropped to 4-4 on the year. He was roughed up for seven runs, six earned, on seven hits in 4.2 innings of work. Norton struck out three and walked one. The free pass, which was an intentional walk, snapped a streak of 27.0 consecutive innings without a walk.
Sophomore 1B Trey Mancini drilled a two-run home in the bottom of the ninth inning. The round tripper was his 10th of the campaign.
Nick Favatella and Patrick Kivlehan each registered four hits (combined for eight of the Scarlet Knights 13 on the day). Favatella went 4-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. Kivlehan went 4-for-4 with two RBI and four runs scored.
Rutgers had just one extra-base hit on the day, Kivlehan’s two-run home run in the top of the fourth.
Rutgers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Kivlehan singled through the right side and took off on a stolen base attempt. Junior C Joe Hudson’s throw was on the target and in plenty of time to retire him, but senior SS Tommy Chase mishandled the throw. Kivlehan not only reached second, but then advanced to third and scored one pitch later on an RBI ground out from Steve Zavala.
The Scarlet Knights pushed their lead to 3-0 on a two-run home run from Kivlehan. After Norton barely missed on a 1-1 offering, the Rutgers third baseman hammered a hanging breaking ball over the scoreboard in left field. The round tripper was the BIG EAST-leading 12th of the year for Kivlehan.
The Scarlet Knights extended their lead to 7-0 four runs in the top of the fifth. Rutgers collected four straight two-out hits and benefitted from an Irish error.
After a lengthy meeting with Irish head coach Mik Aoki in the middle of the fifth inning, Notre Dame’s bats finally awoke. Markson and Mac Hudgins opened the frame with consecutive singles. After Chase executed a sacrifice bunt, junior 2B Frank DeSico followed with an RBI single to cut the Irish deficit to 7-1. DeSico moved into scoring position on the throw home. Freshman DH Ryan Bull then struck out, but sophomore 3B Eric Jagielo reached on a throwing error that allowed a pair of come across and score, which brought Notre Dame within four runs, 7-3.
Just as quickly as the Irish got themselves back into the game, they gift-wrapped a pair of unearned runs for Rutgers in the top of the sixth inning and the deficit was six runs, 9-3.
Notre Dame threatened in its half of the sixth inning, loading the bases with one out, trailing 9-3, but Smorol got DeSico to fly out to shallow right field (not deep enough to plate a run) and then induced a fielder’s choice ground out from Bull to end the inning.
Rutgers added two more unearned runs in the seventh and ninth innings.
Hudson added his sixth home run, a solo round tripper in the seventh.
Notre Dame closes the series with Rutgers at 1:05 p.m. Sunday at Frank Eck Stadium. Freshman RHP Pat Connaughton will take the mound for the Irish. In-game updates will be available on Twitter at @NDBaseball and Facebook at NDBaseball, and fans can listen to all the action locally on 103.1 FM and on the Internet at UND.com.