May 4, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – One day after the University of Notre Dame and the University of South Florida played the longest game in BIG EAST history, the two faced off in another classic Saturday. The Bulls held off a furious Fighting Irish rally in the bottom of the 10th inning to secure a 4-3 victory at Frank Eck Stadium. Notre Dame drops to 27-19 and 7-10 in the league, while USF improves to 31-15 and 15-2. The Bulls have captured their last eight extra-inning games.
With the bases loaded, two out, and the Irish within a run, junior 1B and All-American candidate Trey Mancini stepped to the dish and the Bulls immediately went to the bullpen to get RHP Jordan Strittmatter.
Mancini, the reigning NBCWA National Hitter of the Week, quickly got ahead in the count 3-1 before fouling off back-to-back fast balls. Mancini got another fastball from Strittmatter and rifled it right back toward the mound, but the Bulls right-handed hurler somehow managed to glove the hot shot and, in turn, retire Mancini to end the game.
Strittmatter picked up his first save of the season and made a winner out of fellow RHP Chad Taylor, who improved to 1-0 on the year.
Senior RHP Adam Norton was dealt a cruel defeat and dropped to 9-2 on the campaign. He limited the Bulls to a pair of earned runs, four runs in all, over a career-best 10.0 innings of work. Norton struck out six, walked just one (an intentional free pass) and scattered 12 hits (11 singles). He became the first Irish pitcher to log at least 10.0 innings in a game since Aaron Heilmann went 10.0 against West Virginia on April 15, 2000 (Heilmann set a BIG EAST record with 18 strikeouts in that outing).
Mancini extended his career-best hitting streak to 14 games. He went 2-for-6 with a double. Mancini has now registered 10 straight multi-hit outings. Senior 2B and co-captain Frank Desico, sophomore LF Mac Hudgins, sophomore RF Ryan Bull, senior CF and co-captain Charlie Markson and freshman SS Lane Richards also had two hits apiece.
Notre Dame, as was the case in the 19-inning defeat to USF Friday night, had a plethora of scoring chances. The Irish left the bases loaded in the second, eighth and 10th innings. In fact, Notre Dame stranded 16 base runners on the day, including an astounding 12 in scoring position.
The Irish have stranded 31 on the base paths in the first two games of the series with USF, including 21 in scoring position. Notre Dame is just 2-for-30 (.067) with runners in scoring position in the first two games of the series.
The Irish were 1-for-29 with runners in scoring position before DeSico came through with a two out, two strike RBI single in the bottom of the 10th to cut the USF lead to 4-2. After DeSico stole second, Hudgins drew a walk to load the bases for freshman CF Kyle Richardson. The defensive replacement ultimately drew a bases loaded walk to make the score, 4-3, but Notre Dame would not get any closer.
Norton collected his 10th quality start of the season and has gone at least 7.0 innings in 10 of his 12 outings this year. He tossed 122 pitches, including a remarkable 95 for strikes.
After USF grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning, Norton took over. He retired 18 of the next 22 Bulls, including 13 straight at one point.
The Irish had to rally in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings. Hudgins and Bull collected consecutive one-out base hits. Mancini came to the plate and crushed an offering from Taylor. James Ramsey drifted to the warning track in straightaway centerfield, but he hauled in the drive just a couple steps in front of the 400-foot sign.
Hudgins advanced to third base and scored a couple pitches later thanks to a USF passed ball that tied the score, 1-1. Richardson, who pinch ran for Bull, scampered into scoring position, but sophomore pinch hitter Conor Biggio flied out to end the threat.
Biggio, an outfielder, was forced to play third base in the top of the 10th inning. Junior 3B and All-American candidate Eric Jagielo missed the first game of his career, and sophomores’ Phil Mosey and Kevin DeFilippis had already played the hot corner and been substituted.
Nik Alfonso hit a ground ball that Biggio made a nice play on, but had to throw from deep and behind the third-base bag. Alfonso was safe with a leadoff hit. After a sacrifice bunt moved the go-ahead run into scoring position, Norton plunked Alex Mendez on a 0-1 pitch. A potential twin killing was still in play before a passed ball allowed both runners to advance.
Norton was then forced to issue an intentional walk and Jimmy Falla delivered an RBI single to give the Bulls a 2-1 lead. Richardson misplayed the hit in centerfield, which allowed another run to cross home plate and the USF lead was 3-1. Chad Norton capitalized on the miscue and pushed the lead to 4-1 with a sacrifice fly.
Falla went 4-for-5 with an RBI single. Ramsey was the only other USF player with more than one hit. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI.
Notre Dame will look to salvage the final game of its three-game series with USF at 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Frank Eck Stadium. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.
— ND —