April 25, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – St. John’s used five home runs to rally from a sixth inning 3-1 deficit to race past No. 24 Notre Dame, 10-3, in BIG EAST Conference baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Friday night. The Irish drop to 27-11-1 overall and 12-4 in the conference, while the Red Storm improve to 30-9 and 12-4. Notre Dame, St. John’s and Cincinnati (11-2 winners over Louisville) now stand in a three-way tie for first in the league.
The five Red Storm home runs are tied for the most ever allowed by an Irish team at Frank Eck Stadium. Miami, Fla. smacked five home runs on April 2, 1994 – just the second ever game played at the Eck.
After the Irish went ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Red Storm regained the lead with three runs of their own in the top of the sixth. Notre Dame starter David Phelps (Hazelwood, Mo.) looked in total control, retiring the first two St. John’s batters in the inning on just five pitches, but Chris Anninos and Greg Hopkins followed with back-to-back solo home runs to tie the score, 3-3. Phelps had allowed just one home run all season (over 67.0 innings) entering the night.
Carlos Del Rosario kept the rally going with a bloop single to center field and promptly stole second before racing home on Daniel Benedetti’s single that glanced off the glove of senior shortstop Brett Lilley (North Canton, Ohio) into shallow centerfield.
St. John’s pushed its lead to 6-3 with two more solo long balls (Gino Matias and Anninos’ second) off Phelps in the top of the seventh inning.
The four home runs allowed by Phelps were the most of his career. In fact, Phelps had surrendered just four home runs over his last 150.0 innings of work – dating back to March 15, 2007.
Phelps (5-4) was roughed up for six earned runs (tied a season-high) on 12 hits (most since May 17, 2007) over 6.2 innings of work. The right-handed hurler struckout one and walked one.
Paul Karmas provided the final blow with his three-run blast off sophomore Steven Mazur (Round Rock, Texas) in the eighth inning.
Anninos went 3-for-5 with two solo home runs. Del Rosario, Daniel Benedetti and Jeff Grantham all chipped in three hits. The bottom third of the Red Storm order went 9-for-12 on the night with three RBI and four runs scored.
Scott Barnes improved to 5-3 on the season with the victory. He was charged with three earned runs on six hits in 6.2 innings of work. Barnes struckout two and walked four.
Sophomore A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) registered his fourth straight game with at least two hits and senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) extended his career-best hitting streak to 19 games. Sophomore Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) also added a two-run single.
Freshman Todd Miller (Franklin, Tenn.) struckout a pair in his one scoreless inning of relief.
Notre Dame missed out on a couple of scoring chances early on. The Irish stranded six, including four in scoring position, over the first four innings. Notre Dame loaded the bases in the second inning with two outs, but Lilley grounded out to second base to end the threat.
St. John’s finally broke through against Phelps in the fifth inning. After limiting the Red Storm to three hits over the first four innings, Del Rosario pulled a one-out single through the right side. Phelps nearly induced an inning-ending double play on a grounder off the bat of Benedetti, but the ball took a tough hop over the glove of junior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) at second base putting runners on the corners with just one out. Grantham followed with a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to drive in Del Rosario to give St. John’s a 1-0 lead. After both runners advanced on Brian Kemp’s ground out, Phelps got Matias to fly out to keep the Irish deficit one run.
The lead was short-lived as the Irish awoke for three runs in the bottom half of the inning. The Irish loaded the bases on back-to-back singles and a Barnes walk. Brezovsky tied the game, 1-1, with a sacrifice fly (his fifth of the season). After a wild pitch moved two into scoring position, Boockford followed with a clutch two-run single to give Notre Dame a 3-1 advantage.
Notre Dame returns to action tomorrow afternoon for the second game of the series with the Red Storm. Senior Wade Korpi (Lake Worth, Fla.) will take the mound for the Irish. The game can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com. It will also be televised on ESPNU at 3:30 p.m.