May 9, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia exploded for six runs to blow open a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning to secure a three-game BIG EAST series sweep of Notre Dame, 10-3, at Hawley Field Sunday afternoon. The Irish dropped to 20-27 overall and 8-13 in the conference, while the Mountaineers improved to 21-26 and 6-15.
West Virginia put the game away with six runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, most of the damage against the Irish was self induced. Notre Dame not only walked three and hit a batter, but one of the walks came on four straight pitches when Kevin Griffin was trying to sacrifice bunt. The Irish also chose to not field another sacrifice bunt attempt which stayed fair to load the bases. Colin Duborow then had an RBI single, Mark Dvoroznak had an RBI ground out and Grant Buckner was plunked with the bases loaded to push the lead to 7-3 before Justin McDavid followed with a bases-clearing double to close the scoring at 10-3.
West Virginia reliever Andy Altemus picked up the victory and improved to 4-5 on the year. He limited the Irish to two runs, only one earned, on five hits in 6.0 innings. Altemus struck out five and walked just one.
Irish senior Eric Maust was charged with the loss despite pitching well. The right-handed hurler (0-5) scattered nine hits and four earned runs over 6.1 innings of work. Maust fanned five and walked two, one of which was intentional.
Senior Ryan Connolly, freshman Frank Desico and junior Cameron McConnell paced the Notre Dame attack with two hits apiece. Connolly stroked his team-leading 11th home run of the season and second of the weekend. He also added a double.
West Virginia grabbed the game’s first lead. Jedd Gyorko led off the bottom of the first with an opposite field double. After Maust induced a ground out, Bucker and McDavid then registered back-to-back infield singles to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 advantage. Jeremy Gum followed with a liner back up the middle, but Notre Dame shortstop Mick Doyle ranged behind the second base bag and made a diving stop. He quickly got up and flipped to DeSico, who turned and fired a strike to first baseman Casey Martin to complete the 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
Notre Dame benefitted from a double play to escape further damage in the bottom of the first and fell victim to the twin killing in the top of the second. With runners on first and second, and one out, freshman Adam Norton ripped a hot shot right at Bucker at third base. He made a nice pick and started a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
After Buckner’s fifth homer of the weekend made it 2-0 in favor of the Mountaineers in the bottom of the third, Notre Dame cut the West Virginia lead in half on McConnell’s two-out RBI single in the top of the fourth inning. Altemus replaced Eric Hinkle with two on and nobody out in the fourth. He got senior Billy Boockford to fly out (after failing to execute the sacrifice bunt) and Norton on a strikeout, but McConnell made it 2-1 with his fourth hit of the weekend. Altemus got Doyle to line out to centerfield to end the inning.
Notre Dame stranded five over the first three innings.
Hinkle did not factor in the decision. The southpaw worked 3.0+ innings and allowed one earned run on three hits. Hinkle walked three and fanned two.
The Mountaineers answered with a two-run bomb off the bat of Rasky to make the score, 4-1. Rasky’s home run was the 10th of the weekend by West Virginia. In fact, he was the sixth different Mountaineer to circle the bases.
Connolly smacked a solo shot in the fifth, to bring the Irish within a couple runs, 4-2. Notre Dame added another run in the inning and drew within a run, 4-3, thanks to a couple of errors from Duburow at second base.
Altemus and Maust each settled into a grove over the middle innings. Altemus did allow the Connolly homer, but limited the Irish to just two other hits, both singles, and fanned four over the fifth, sixth and seventh inning.
Maust retired 10 of the next 11 Mountaineers following Chris Rasky’s two-run homer in the fourth inning. He got a foul out to open the bottom of the seventh inning, but Dvoroznak followed with a single and scampered into scoring position on Maust’s wild pitch. Maust then intentionally walked Gyorko to set up a lefty of lefty situation for Mills. The Irish southpaw got Hayes to fly out before Hudgins was summoned to face Bucker.
Notre Dame’s sidewinder did walk Bucker to load the bases, but got McDavid to ground into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.
Notre Dame returns to action against Bowling Green at 6:05 p.m. on Tuesday at Frank Eck Stadium. GameTracker, live web stream, live blog and recap of Saturday’s game will be available on UND.com. Tickets for all Fighting Irish home contests this season are available through the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356), on-line at the official Fighting Irish athletics web site (www.UND.com/tickets), and at the Frank Eck Stadium ticket windows on game night.