May 1, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Connecticut scored seven runs over the fifth, sixth and seven innings, all with two outs, to rally past Notre Dame, 8-5, in BIG EAST baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Friday night. The Irish drop to 26-18 overall and 10-9 in the league, while the Huskies improve to 26-20 and 9-10.
Senior John Folino picked up the victory for Connecticut. The righty allowed five runs, four earned, on eight hits in 6.2 innings of work. Folino improved to 6-3 on the season. Senior David Erickson collected his eighth save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning. He struck out two. Dusty Odenbach added 1.1 scoreless innings before turning the ball over to Erickson. Odenbach allowed one hit, but also fanned three. Folino, Odenbach and Erickson limited the Irish to just one run on just four hits over the final 6.0 innings of the game.
Sophomore Cole Johnson (Hudson, Ohio) took the loss and dropped to 4-2 on the season. He was charged with five earned runs on 10 hits in 7.0 innings. Johnson struck out four and walked two.
Senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) went 3-for-5 with a run scored. Sophomore A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) went 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Sophomore Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) went 1-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI. The base hit extended Doyle’s career-best hitting streak to 11 games, which equals Barnes and sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) for the longest this season by an Irish player.
The Irish jumped out of the gate on Folino. Pollock drew a leadoff walk and Tate followed with an infield single. Both then advanced on a wild pitch. Folino appeared as though he might escape the inning without any damage after striking out Barnes, getting sophomore David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) to pop out and had Doyle down in the count, 1-2, but the Irish third baseman lined a breaking ball to right field to plate Pollock and Tate to give Notre Dame a 2-0 lead.
Notre Dame pushed its lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the third. Tate and Barnes opened the frame with back-to-back singles. Casey made it three straight base hits with an RBI single to score Tate. After Casey moved up a base on another wild pitch, Doyle came through with his seventh sacrifice fly of the season. He is now tied for the BIG EAST lead in sacrifice flies.
Johnson was in cruise control. The right-handed hurler retired six of the first seven Huskies of the game (the only UConn batter to reach base did so on an error). Johnson allowed a leadoff single and one-out single in the third inning, but got a double play ground ball to end the threat. He then sent the Huskies down 1-2-3 in the fourth inning.
UConn cut the Irish lead in half with a pair of unearned runs in the top of the fifth. Matt Burnett and Joe Pavone registered consecutive singles to open the frame. Johnson got a fielder’s choice for the first out of the inning which put Huskies on the corners with one out. Nick Ahmed then took off to steal second and sophomore Cameron McConnell’s (Bannockburn Ill.) throw arrived in plenty of time, but Ahmed stopped. Sophomore Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) took the throw and fired to Doyle to try and get Burnett, who had strayed off the bag, but Burnett apparently slid under the tag of Doyle. Johnson fanned Harold Brantley, Jr. for the second out of the inning and induced a ground ball from Pierre LePage, but junior Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.) was unable to field it cleanly and both runners scored on the error.
Johnson then retired the first two UConn hitters of the sixth inning on just three pitches before Springer extended the inning with what seemed to be a meaningless infield single off Johnson’s glove, but the Huskies followed with a walk and three straight two-out singles to quickly grab a 5-4 lead.
Notre Dame answered with a tying run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Junior Brayden Ashdown (Tucson, Ariz.) missed out on a go-ahead, two-run home run by mere inches, settling for a game-tying RBI triple, as the ball bounced off the yellow coil on top of the fence. UConn third baseman Dale Brannon saved another run with a spectacular pick at third base. With one out, Ashdown at third and the infield in, McConnell roped a liner to Brannon, who made a “look what I found” snag for the second out of the inning. Folino then got Sherry to ground out to end the inning.
The Huskies continued their two-out magic in the seventh. Similar to the UConn three-run sixth, Johnson retired the first two of the inning before issuing a two-out walk. George Springer singled, Peter Fatse was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Burnett followed with a two-run single to give Connecticut a 7-5 advantage.
The Huskies added a key insurance run in the eighth. Pavone tripled off Irish freshman reliever Ryan Richter (South Bend, Ind.) to open the inning. Ahmed then flew out to Tate in left field, who threw a one-hop strike to McConnell at the plate, beating Pavone, but McConnell was not able to keep the ball in his mitt and Pavone scored to make it 8-5.
Richter allowed an earned run in 2.0 innings of relief. The southpaw yielded a hit and struck out one.
Notre Dame returns to action tomorrow afternoon with the second game of the series with the Huskies. First pitch at Frank Eck Stadium is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Sophomore right-hander Brian Dupra (5-4, 5.65 ERA) will grace the hill for the Irish.
— ND —