May 17, 2008
TAMPA – Notre Dame squandered an 8-0 lead and USF rallied for a 9-8 victory to secure a sweep in the three-game BIG EAST series that concluded Saturday afternoon. Despite dropping all three games, the Irish secured the No. 3 lead in the upcoming BIG EAST Tournament after both Louisville and Seton Hall lost games today.
Notre Dame has lost six consecutive games and dropped to 33-19-1 overall and 16-10 in the league. The Bulls improve to 29-25 and 14-13.
Junior Carlin, who picked up the gamewinning RBI single in the bottom of the 16th last night, again came through with a RBI hit to give the Bulls a 9-8 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. Carlin entered the series with just three hits the entire season, but picked up three more hits this afternoon.
Stephen Hunt worked a perfect ninth inning to register his second save of the year. Matt Stull (4-2) was credited with victory. He allowed a hit in 1.0 scoreless inning.
Freshman Ryan Sharpley (4-2) was charged with the loss. He was knocked around for three earned runs on five hits in 3.1 innings. He struck out three and walked two.
Johnson did not factor in the decision. He was roughed up for six earned runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings. He struck out a career-high six and walked two.
For the third straight game, Notre Dame missed a handful of tremendous scoring opportunities, none more critical than the seventh and eighth inning. Freshman Greg Sherry ripped a one-out double off the left field wall in the eighth, but Matt Quevedo induced a pair of ground balls to get out of the jam.
Sophomore A.J. Pollock then led off the eighth inning with a single and stole second base, but junior Evan Sharpley struck out, junior Jeremy Barnes flied out and senior Ross Brezovsky fouled out to end the inning.
Sophomore David Mills went 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Sherry also added three hits in his return to the lineup after missing last night’s game (was struck with a pitch in the head Thursday night). Sherry went 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Brezovsky was 2-for-5 with an RBI.
The Irish raced out to 8-0 lead after they plated three runs in the top of the third inning, four more in the fourth and one in the fifth. Notre Dame benefitted from a trio of USF errors.
Senior Brett Lilley, Pollock and Barnes all added RBI in the three-run first, before Mills and Brezovsky added a RBI single and RBI double, respectively, in the four-run fourth. The Irish also scored a pair of runs on an error and passed ball.
Mills then singled home another run in the fifth to push the score to 8-0, but USF finally solved Irish starter Cole Johnson in their half of the fifth inning.
Johnson cruised through the first four innings. The freshman right-handed hurler allowed just two hits and no runs over the first four innings, including five strikeouts, but tired in the fifth.
After retiring the Bulls leadoff batter in the fifth, USF followed with a single, walk and single to plate its first run of the afternoon. Johnson then got ahead of USF slugger Joey Angelberger, 1-2, but the first baseman belted Johnson’s 1-2 offering down the left field line for a three-run home run — his third long ball of the series and 10th of the season.
With the Irish deficit cut in half, USF continued the attack. Addison Maruszak singled, but was retired on Hunt’s fielder’s choice. Johnson was not able to escape the inning without further damage as Hobbs hammered a two-run bomb to bring the Bulls within two runs, 8-6.
After Notre Dame went 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth inning, USF drew even, 8-8, following RBI singles from Maruszak and Hunt.
The Irish return to action Tuesday evening with their first game from the 2008 BIG EAST Tournament. Notre Dame, the third-seed, will play the sixth-seed USF at Brighthouse Networks Field at 8:00 p.m. The game can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and UND.com.