May 22, 2009

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CLEARWATER, Fla. – Notre Dame has played baseball for 117 years and Friday’s come-from-behind victory over St. John’s might go down as the greatest in school history. The Irish fell behind 9-0 after three innings and 10-2 after four innings, but Notre Dame scored the game’s final nine runs to eliminate the Red Storm, 11-10, in BIG EAST tournament baseball action from Bright House Networks Field.

Sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) capped off the miraculous rally with a two-out RBI single off Nick Luisi in the bottom of the ninth inning. Sophomore Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) opened the ninth inning with double off the right field wall and moved to third on sophomore Cameron McConnell’s (Bannockburn, Ill.) ground out to second base.

After sophomore pinch hitter Matt Scioscia (Westlake Village, Calif.) grounded out, stranding Doyle at third, Tate ripped the first offering he saw from Luisi past a diving Greg Hopkins at third to give Notre Dame’s its 18th come-from-behind win of the season and eighth in its last at-bat.

Tate made a winner out of sophomore Will Hudgins (Richmond, Va.). The sidewinder tossed 4.0 scoreless innings of relief to pick up his second victory of the season (2-0). Hudgins yielded just two hits, did not walk a batter and faced just two over the minimum.

McConnell paced the Irish attack with three hits and three RBI. Tate, senior Ryan Connolly (Binghamton, N.Y.) and Doyle added two hits apiece. Junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) also chipped in with a double and three RBI.

The Irish slowly began to chip away in the bottom of the fourth inning. Tate was plunked with one out, senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) followed with a single and both raced home on Mills’ two-run double to cut the Red Storm lead to 10-4. Connolly had a 1-2 count with Mills at second base when the game was delayed for two hours and 38 minutes (the second delay of the afternoon).

A complete different Irish club showed up after the break.

Hudgins replaced sophomore Todd Miller (Franklin, Tenn.) and tossed a scoreless sixth inning.

The sophomore put up another scoreless inning in the seventh to setup a rally for the Irish in the bottom of the seventh. Tate singled to open the inning, Barnes walked and senior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) was plunked to load the bases with no outs. Mills came through with a sacrifice fly to cut the Red Storm deficit to 10-5. Connolly followed with an RBI double to bring Notre Dame within four runs, 10-6.

After Doyle drew a walk to load the bases off new St. John’s pitcher Ryan Cole, McConnell came through with a two-run single to draw Notre Dame within two runs, 10-8, but Cole evaded any further damage when Sherry grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Irish again loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Pollock singled, stole second before Tate and Barnes walked. Luisi replaced Cole and walked Sharpley to make the score, 10-9.

Junior Brayden Ashdown (Tucson, Ariz.) then pinch hit for Mills and ripped a shot back up the middle, but Luisi managed to deflect the ball with his glove, preventing it from getting through the infield, and starting a 1-6-3 double play. Tate did manage to score to tie the game, 10-10.

Hudgins sent the Red Storm down in order in the ninth setting up the shocking ninth.

St. John’s drew first blood in the top of the second inning. Carlos Del Rosario laced a one-out single to left field and Wessinger was hit by a pitch to put a pair on the bases. Notre Dame starter Brian Dupra (Rochester, N.Y.) then balked, which allowed both runners to advance a base. Danny Benedetti then followed with an RBI ground out to give the Red Storm a 1-0 advantage.

St. John’s extended its lead with five runs in the top of the third inning. Brian Kemp pulled a double just inside the third base bag and moved to third base when Barnes was not able to come down with Jimmy Parque’s bloop base hit that deflected off his glove. Paul Karmas followed with an RBI single and Tim Morris singled to load the bases with nobody out. Hopkins then made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly, Del Rosario pushed it to 4-0 with an RBI ground out and Matt Wessinger extended the St. John’s lead to 5-0 with a double off the top of the wall. Benedetti followed with an RBI single past a diving Doyle at third base to push the advantage to six runs.

The Red Storm continued to have success against Dupra in the fourth. After the righty retired the first two St. John’s batters of the inning, the Red Storm followed with four consecutive two-out hits to blow the game wide open and take a 9-0 lead.

Dupra was tagged with nine earned runs on 11 hits. He struck out two and walked one in just 3.2 innings of work. The outing for Dupra was his second shortest of 2009. He lasted just 3.0 innings on March 7 against #7 Rice.

Notre Dame got on the board in its half of the fourth inning. Sharpley blasted his fifth home run of the season to make it 9-1. Connolly ripped a two-out double and coasted home on McConnell’s RBI single that cut the Red Storm lead to 9-2.

St. John’s answered with a solo home run off the bat of Kemp, again after the first two Red Storm batters were retired, to make it 10-2 in the top of the fifth inning, but the Irish continued to fight back.