Junior David Mills.

Seton Hall Dumps Irish Baseball, 11-4

March 22, 2009

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Seton Hall starter Joe DiRocco tossed 7.0 shutout innings, the Pirates banged out 20 hits, including 11 with two outs and plated eight more two-out runs to knock off Notre Dame, 10-2, and secure the rubber game of the three-game BIG EAST series Sunday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium. The Irish dropped to 13-7 overall and 1-2 in the conference, while Seton Hall improved to 10-7 and 2-1.

The Pirates used the identical formula from Saturday’s 9-4 victory on Sunday — quality starting pitching and two-out hitting. Notre Dame had allowed 37 runs and a .220 batting average (39-for-177) with two outs entering the weekend (over its first 17 games), but Seton Hall registered 19 runs, 16 RBI and a .440 batting average (22-for-50) with two outs over the three-game series. In fact, 15 of those runs and 13 of those two out RBI came over the last two games of the series. The Pirates also hit .486 (18-for-37) with two down in Saturday and Sunday’s victories.

DiRocco didn’t need that much help. The sophomore (2-1) allowed just four hits and one walk in the victorious effort. DiRocco struck out a pair and allowed just two Irish base runners into scoring position. Notre Dame did put runners on the corners with one out in the sixth following back-to-back singles from junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) and junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.), down 6-0, but DiRocco struck out senior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) and got senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) to ground out to end the inning.

Seton Hall then hammered sophomore Todd Miller for four runs on six hits in the eighth inning to grab a 10-0 lead and put the game out of reach.

Junior Eric Maust (2-1) was charged with the loss. The righty was roughed up for five runs, four earned, on nine hits in 4.1 innings of work. Maust struck out three and walked two.

Bobby Abreu, Matt Smedberg, Chris Spagnuolo and Michael Rogers all had three hits for the Pirates.

Mills and Pollock were the only two Notre Dame players with multi-hit games. Mills went 2-for-4 with a run scored, while Pollock went 2-for-4 with a run scored and two-run home run.

Seton Hall grabbed an early lead for the second consecutive day, and once again, did it with two outs. After a leadoff walk and stolen base, the Pirates got back-to-back two-strike, two-out hits from Abreu and A.J. Rusbarsky to take a 1-0 lead. Seton Hall scored seven of its nine runs on Saturday after the first two batters were retired.

The Pirates continued their two-out magic in the top of the fourth inning. Seton Hall put together three consecutive hits, including one infield, to load the bases with one out. After Maust retired Sean Gusrang for the second out of the frame, Abreu lined a two-out base hit to centerfield to push the Pirates lead to 3-0.

The Pirates added two more runs in the top of the fifth inning. Smedberg led off the inning with another infield single and scampered to third on Chris Affinito’s fourth double of the series. Spagnuolo then walked to load the bases with nobody out. Frank Esposito made it 4-0 with a sacrifice fly, while Affinito and Spagnuolo each advance a base when junior Brayden Ashdown’s (Tucson, Ariz.) throw home evaded sophomore Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.) behind the plate.

The fly ball would end the day for Maust. Mills replaced the junior right-handed hurler and surrendered a RBI single to Rogers that extended the Pirates lead to 5-0, but the southpaw tossed a career-long 2.2 innings of work and allowed one earned run on three hits.

Similar story for Seton Hall again in the top of the sixth inning. Mills retired the first two Pirates off the inning before Smedberg ripped a triple into the right centerfield gap and cruised home on Affinito’s two-out RBI double. The RBI hit was the 13th for Seton Hall this weekend with two outs.

Notre Dame returns to action at Frank Eck Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday against Central Michigan and Oakland. First pitch for both games is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. Freshmen Dustin Ispas and Steve Sabatino will take the mound for the Irish.

— ND —