Sophomore Brian Dupra.

Seton Hall Plates Five Unearned Runs In Seventh Inning To Race Past Irish, 9-4

March 21, 2009

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Seton Hall used five unearned runs in the top of the seventh inning to breakup a 3-3 tie and starter Keith Cantwell tossed 8.0+ stellar innings to knock off Notre Dame, 9-4, in BIG EAST baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Saturday afternoon. The loss snapped the six-game winning streak for the Irish and dropped them to 13-6 overall and 1-1 in the conference. The Pirates improved to 9-7 overall and 1-1 in the league.

After Notre Dame tied the score, 3-3, on senior Jeremy Barnes’ (Garland, Texas) two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Pirates used a pair of errors and two walks, all with two outs, to plate five runs in the top of the seventh inning to regain an 8-3 advantage. In fact, Seton Hall plated seven runs (two in the second inning and five in the seventh) on the afternoon after the first two batters of the inning were retired.

The five-run lead was more than enough for Cantwell. He retired Notre Dame in order in the seventh inning and once again in the eighth, but tired in the ninth. Cantwell allowed a leadoff home run to senior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) and Barnes followed with a walk, but Matt Singer induced junior Matt Grosso (Hebron, Conn.) into a 4-6-3 double play before getting pinch-hitter David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) to ground out to end the inning.

Cantwell improved to 3-0 on the year following his longest outing of the season. The senior allowed four earned runs on six hits and fanned five. Cantwell did walk four, but also benefitted from a pair of double plays.

Chris Affinito led the Pirates offensively. He went 4-for-5 with a run scored and RBI. Frank Esposito and Matt Smedberg each went 2-for-5.

Irish sophomore starting pitcher Brian Dupra (Rochester, N.Y.) struggled early for the second straight start, but settled down. After allowing three runs over the first two innings, the righty retired 15 of 18 Seton Hall batters between the third and seventh inning. Dupra retired the first two Pirates in the seventh before allowing back-to-back two out, two strike hits. With runners on first and second, still two down, Dupra got Spagnuolo to ground to Barnes, but the shortstops’ throw evaded Sharpley at first base allowing the go-ahead run to score. Esposito followed with an RBI double to make it 5-3.

Freshman Joe Spano (Verona, N.J.) reliever Dupra and promptly walked Michael Rogers to load the bases. Fellow freshman Will Hudgins (Richmond, Va.) replaced Spano and got another ground ball, but Barnes mishandled another to allow a run to score and then Hudgins walked the next two batters of the inning to give the Pirates an 8-3 lead.

Dupra was dealt the loss. He tossed 6.2 innings and allowed seven runs, only three earned, on nine hits. Dupra fanned three and walked three.

Barnes and Sharpley each homered for Notre Dame. The blast for Barnes was his third of the season, while Sharpley belted his first.

Seton Hall grabbed the early lead a run in the first inning and two more in the second off Dupra. After the Irish right-handed hurler retired the first two Pirates of the afternoon, Smedberg singled to centerfield and came around to score on Affinito’s RBI double as both hits came with two outs and two strikes.

Seton Hall increased its lead to 3-0 in the second at bat. Esposito reached on an infield single. The Pirates catcher hit a chopper that started foul only to ricochet off the cut of the grass in foul territory and roll back into fair territory. Dupra did retire Esposito on an unsuccessful sacrifice bunt attempt, but Chris Fontenelli singled and Sean Gusrang to load the bases with one out. Bobby Abreu followed with a bases loaded walk and A.J. Rusbarsky grounded out to push the Pirates lead to 3-0.

Cantwell kept the Irish off-balance and off the scoreboard until the sixth inning. Notre Dame managed to advance just one base runner into scoring position over the first five innings, but broke through in the bottom of the sixth.

Junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) and junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) posted back-to-back one out singles and both moved into scoring position on Sharpley’s ground out to first base. Mills raced home on Cantwell’s wild pitch and Barnes followed with a towering two-run home run to tie the score, 3-3.

Notre Dame returns to action tomorrow afternoon for game three of the series with the Pirates. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. Junior right-handed hurler Eric Maust will take the mound for the Irish.

— ND —