May 2, 2008
STORRS, Conn. – Notre Dame rallied from a 7-3 deficit to tie the game, 7-7, but Connecticut got two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to secure a 9-7 victory in the opening game of a BIG EAST series Friday afternoon at J.O. Christian Field. The Irish drop to 30-13-1 overall and 13-6 in the conference, while the Huskies improve to 23-25 and 8-14.
With the game tied, 7-7, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, UConn got RBI singles from Elliot Glynn and Pat Mahoney to regain a 9-7 lead.
Erickson then retired the final six Irish batters, including junior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.), junior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) and senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) in the ninth inning, to secure the victory. Erickson improved to 2-2 on the season. He went 2.2 innings and did not allow a run or hit. Erickson fanned a pair of walked one.
Freshman Cole Johnson (Hudson, Ohio) was charged with the loss for the Irish. He releived Notre Dame starter David Phelps with Huskies at the corners and just one out in the sixth inning. Johnson (2-2) pitched out of the jam, allowing the Irish to rally.
Trailing 7-3, senior Brett Lilley (North Canton, Ohio) led off the seventh with his 103rd career hit-by-pitch. After UConn went to the bullpen for Will Musson, sophomore David Mills (Battle Creek, Mish.) greeted the Huskie reliever with an RBI triple (his team-high sixth of the year). Sophomore A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) then reached base on an HBP before Sharpley struckout, but Barnes then drove in Mills with an infield single. Brezovsky followed with a walk to load the bases. Erickson would then enter the game and promptly walked senior Sean Gaston (Brownsburg, Ind.) to cut the Notre Dame deficit to 7-6. Sophomore Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) then legged out a possible double play ball (UConn shortstop Mike Olt did bobble the exchange) to tie the game at 7-7. With the go ahead run at third base, freshman Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) struck out to end the inning.
Johnson and Erickson would each retire the opposition in order the following innings before Gordon Stevens led off the eighth with a bunt single. Sharpley fielded the bunt and tossed to a covering Johnson, but Stevens outraced the Irish reliever to the bag.
Mills would replace Johnson and retire Harold Brantley, Jr. on a sacrifice bunt (Stevens moved into scoring position). With first base open and Glynn, a left-handed hitter on deck, Mills intentionally walked Pierre LePage to set up the lefty on lefty matchup. Unfortunately for Notre Dame’s sake, Glynn stroked a single to left field to give UConn an 8-7 lead. Mahoney would then add an insurance run with a sharp RBI single off senior Tony Langford (Fort Worth, Texas) to close the scoring at 9-7.
Phelps (Hazelwood, Mos.) was knocked around for seven runs, five earned, on 11 hits. He walked two and fanned two. Johnson tossed 2.0 innings and was charged with one run on one hit. Mills did not record an out and allowed one run on one hit, while Langford allowed a hit in 0.2 scoreless innings.
UConn starter John Folino also failed to factor in the decision. He went 6.0+ innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits. He walked three and struckout four. Musson was roughed up for three earned runs on a pair of hits in his 0.1 innings.
Mills was the lone Irish player with a multi-hit effort. He went 2-for-5 with a run scored and RBI. His six triples are now tied for ninth on the Notre Dame single-season list. Gaston drove in a pair and went 1-for-3. Pollock scored two runs and went 1-for-2, reaching base four times. Sherry added a solo home run — his second on the year.
Notre Dame returns to action tomorrow afternoon with the second game of the series. First-pitch is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. The game can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com.
— ND —