April 26, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame senior Wade Korpi (Lake Worth, Fla.) recorded his best outing in nearly two years, but it was not enough to overcome a trio critical defensive miscues as St. John’s knocked off the 24th-ranked Irish, 6-4, in BIG EAST baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Saturday afternoon. With the defeat, Notre Dame drops to 27-12-1 overall and 12-5 in the conference, while the Red Storm improves to 31-9 and 13-4. St. John’s, combined with Cincinnati’s loss at Louisville, took over sole possession of first place in the league.
Irish junior closer Kyle Weiland (Albuquerque, N.M) fanned Greg Hopkins looking to open the ninth inning on just three pitches, but Carlos Del Rosario reached on an infield single that bounced up and over the head of Weiland. Senior shortstop Brett Lilley (North Canton, Ohio) fielded the ball, but had no chance to get Del Rosario. Daniel Benedetti followed with a seeing-eye single in between freshman third baseman Greg Sherry and Lilley into left field. After Weiland nearly got St. John’s pinch hitter Tom La Stella to ground into an inning-ending double play, Sherry had trouble getting the ensuing ground ball out of his glove and was not able to get Gino Matias at first base which gave the Red Storm a 4-3 lead. Jeff Grantham then followed with a bloop, two-run double that could have been caught, but dropped in between Sherry, Lilley and senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) just inside the left field foul line to push the St. John’s lead to 6-3.
Brezovsky opened the bottom of the ninth inning with a double and eventually came around to score on senior Sean Gaston’s (Brownsburg, Ind.) RBI ground out. The single extended Brezovsky’s career-best hitting streak to 20 games.
St. John’s closer Colin Lynch picked up the victory and improved to 1-1 on the season. He allowed an earned run on two hits in 2.0 innings of work. Weiland dropped to 2-1 on the year. He was charged with three earned runs on four hits, two of which never left the infield and another could have been caught.
Sherry went 3-for-3 on the afternoon with a run scored. Sophomore David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
After Korpi allowed a pair of runs in the top of the second inning, the southpaw retired 10 straight Red Storm batters before allowing a one-out single from Grantham in the top of the sixth inning. Of those 10 straight outs, Korpi induced six ground ball outs and fanned one. The single did no damage after Korpi got Paul Karmas to ground into a fielder’s choice and struckout Gil Zayas.
St. John’s starting pitcher George Brown, who entered the afternoon with a perfect 8-0 record, was in total control over the first five innings. Brown did allow a pair of singles, but still faced the minimum heading into the sixth.
The Irish cut the St. John’s deficit to just one run, 2-1, in their half of the sixth. After back-to-back infield hits from junior Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.) and Sherry, Lilley beat out a potential inning-ending double play ball leaving runners at the corner with two outs. Mills followed with an RBI single.
Korpi worked around the Grantham hit after getting the next two St. John’s hitters. He then allowed a leadoff single to Chris Anninos in the seventh inning, but Anninos was caught stealing. Korpi issued a one-out walk to Hopkins, but again kept the Red Storm off the scoreboard following a ground out and fly out.
Junior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) tied the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning with a leadoff home run to right field. The home run was Barnes’ third of the season.
After the Barnes’ homer, Brezovsky was hit with Brown’s first offering. Junior Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) followed with a sacrifice bunt before Gaston singled over the head of Matias at second base. Brezovsky, who had to hold momentarily to make sure the ball would not be caught, raced around third base. Anninos fielded the ball quickly and his throw home was high, but Red Storm catcher Daniel Benedetti got the tag down to retire Brezovsky at the plate. Gaston did advance into scoring position on the throw, but Martin struckout out to end the inning.
Korpi retired Ferrara for the first out in the eighth, but Matias then reached on an error when Barnes dropped a pop up in short centerfield. Grantham followed with a single through left side. Matias stopped at third base, but then scampered home to give the Red Storm a 3-2 lead when Brezovsky misplayed the ball in left field.
Weiland would replace Korpi after the unearned run. He would keep the damage to just the one run.
Korpi allowed three runs, only two earned, on just five hits in 7.2 innings of work. The outing was his longest since April 18, 2006 when he tossed 8.0 complete innings in a victory over Toledo. He struckout two and walked two.
The Irish, again, tied the game. Sherry led off the bottom of the eighth inning with his third hit on the afternoon. After Brown was pulled for Lynch, Lilley executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Sherry into scoring position. Mills popped out for the second out of the inning, but sophomore A.J. Pollock singled home Sherry to even the score at 3-3.
Notre Dame returns to action tomorrow afternoon for the third and final game of the series with St. John’s. Sophomore Eric Maust (Alpharetta, Ga.) will take the mound for the Irish. The game can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com. First-pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m.