March 4, 2008
SANTALUCES, Fla. – Notre Dame junior third baseman Evan Sharpley belted a two-out, solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Irish a thrilling 11-10 victory over Maine in college baseball action from the Papa John’s Palm Beach Challenge Tuesday afternoon. Notre Dame improves to 4-3 on the year, while the Black Bears drop to 4-4.
Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.), who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, went 3-for-3 on the day with a double and three RBI.
The Irish found themselves down 10-6 in the middle of the sixth inning, but chipped away at the Blackbears’ lead with solo runs in the sixth and seventh innings respectively. Notre Dame then tied the game 10-10 in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Irish had numerous opportunities for additional damage as they stranded 14 base runners for the game, including three in the fourth and then two in each of the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings. In fact, Notre Dame had the first two batters reach base in every inning from the sixth through the ninth, but ironically did not in the 10th before Sharpley’s gamewinning blast.
Sophomore right fielder A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) broke out of his early season hitting slump with a 4-for-6 afternoon. He added two runs scored and an RBI. Senior shortstop Brett Lilley (North Canton, Ohio), junior second baseman Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas), senior catcher Sean Gaston (Brownsburg, Ind.) and sophomore designated hitter Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) each registered two hits apiece. Lilley scored three runs and Gaston drove in three. Senior left fielder Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) went 1-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI.
The back-end of the Irish bullpen proved to be the difference. With Maine having plated 10 runs and holding a four-run lead, the trio of sophomore southpaw David Mills (Battlecreek, Mich.), sophomore right-handed hurler Steven Mazur (Roundrock, Texas) and junior righty Brett Graffy (Homer Glen, Ill.) combined to toss 4.1 scoreless and hitless innings of relief. The trio fanned six and walked just two.
Graffy (1-0) picked up the victory. He pitched 2.2 innings, struck out three and walked two.
Freshman Evan Danieli (East Hanover, N.J.) started for the Irish and was charged with four earned runs on five hits over 4.0 innings. The righty fanned one and walked two. Fellow freshman Cole Johnson (Hudson, Ohio) relieved Danieli and was roughed up for six earned runs and eight hits in 1.2 innings of work. He surrendered a pair of home runs, including one on his first career offering.
Maine closer Will Carroll (0-1) was charged with the loss. He allowed one run on one hit (the Sharpley home run) in 1.1 innings of work.
Notre Dame returns to action on Wednesday against Lehigh (3:00 p.m.) at the Papa John’s Palm Beach Challenge in Santaluces, Fla. The game can heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com.