Junior A.J. Pollock

West Virginia Defeats Notre Dame, 19-3

April 17, 2009

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – West Virginia scored three runs in the first and never looked back, plating three or more runs in an inning four times in the game to defeat the Irish, 19-3. The Mountaineers (28-7, 11-2) scored 12 runs with two outs in the game and have now scored 61 runs in their past four games.

Jedd Gyorko led the Mountaineers with five RBI and three runs scored. Justin Parks, Vince Belnome, and Tobias Streich all drove in three, with Parks crossing the plate four times and Streich recording three doubles.

Junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.), sophomore Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) and sophomore David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) all went 2-for-3 for the Irish (20-14, 6-7), with Pollock scoring twice. Casey raised his average to .391 on the season and has now hit in nine of the past ten games.

Sophomore Cole Johnson (Hudson, Ohio) suffered his first loss of the season (4-1) after yielding 11 runs on ten hits. West Virginia starter Jarryd Summers (6-1) had a solid start, pitching 7.0 innings and giving up two earned runs on seven hits while walking just one (the final batter he faced in the game). Seven of Summers’ outs were fly balls to right fielder Grant Buckner.

Johnson struggled in the first, reaching a three-ball count on the first two batters and yielding three straight ground ball singles up the middle to Parks, Dan DiBartolomeo, and Gyorko to begin the game, making the score 1-0. One out later, Streich laced a double in the left-center field gap to score DiBartolomeo, and Buckner followed with an RBI groundout to put the Mountaineers up 3-0. The inning ended on a strange play when Joe Agreste hit a line drive that ricocheted off the glove of Johnson and right to second baseman Mick Doyle on the fly. It was the sixth consecutive game in which Notre Dame has yielded a run in the first, with opponents totaling 12 runs in the opening inning over that stretch.

The Irish responded in the bottom half with a run of their own. Pollock led off with a double down the left field line, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.), and scored on a wild pitch by Summers. The double snapped an 0-for-9 skid for Pollock and a three-game hitless streak.

The Mountaineers caught a break in the fourth when with two on and two out, DiBartolomeo hit a check swing blooper to left that went off the glove of shortstop Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Tex.) for a double and an RBI, extending the West Virginia lead to 4-1. And on the very next pitch, Gyorko hit a three-run homer to right, his fourth home run of the season, to put the Mountaineer s up six.

The Irish scored an unearned run in their half of the fourth. Casey led off with a line drive single to center. After a passed ball by Streich, junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) moved Casey to third with a groundout, and Doyle followed with his team-leading fourth sacrifice fly on the year to make the score 7-2.

Johnson could not keep the Mountaineers in check, giving up four more runs in the fifth inning. Streich led off with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice, and scored on a wild pitch. After a Agreste walk, Colin Durborow hit an infield single off the glove of Johnson, and Parks followed with his ninth home run of the year to extend the lead to 11-2, the second consecutive inning in which West Virginia recorded a two-out, three-run home run.

Johnson lasted just five innings, giving up a career high 11 runs on ten hits, six of which went for extra bases (four doubles, two home runs), with three walks and three strikeouts. The two home runs were the first that Johnson has allowed this season. The Irish ace failed to pitch at least seven innings for the first time in six starts and walked more than two for the first time in five starts. Johnson threw 115 pitches, reaching a three-ball count nine times in the game.

Notre Dame scored for the second consecutive inning in the fifth, but again managed only a single run. With two outs, Summers hit Pollock with a pitch. Tate followed with a single to left, and Barnes brought Pollock home with a single to right, his 41st RBI of the year. Barnes extended his hitting streak to ten games, tying Pollock for the longest by an Irish player this season.

Freshman Dustin Ispas (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) relieved Johnson and worked a one-two-three sixth, but gave up six runs in the seventh on only three hits; West Virginia benefited from two walks, a hit batter, a balk, and an error in the inning. Buckner led off with a bunt single to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. Following a walk and a hit batter, Ispas balked home a run and Agreste scored on any error by Barnes. Two outs later, Gyorko walked and Belnome added to his BIG EAST-leading RBI total with a three-run double to right that just got past a sliding Mills. Streich rounded out the scoring in the inning with an RBI single, his third hit of the game, to make the score 17-3.

Senior Sam Elam (Mesquite, Tex.) struck out three and walked one in 2.1 innings of relief work, giving up two runs in the ninth on two doubles.

The 19 runs were the most scored by either team in the Notre Dame-West Virginia series. The previous high came on April 21, 2007, when the Irish defeated West Virginia, 17-6, in the second game of the series before a record crowd at Eck Stadium, the afternoon of the 2007 Blue-Gold game. West Virginia defeated Notre Dame, 16-7, in the final game of that series.

Notre Dame and West Virginia return tomorrow afternoon for the second game of the weekend series. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. Sophomore RHP Brian Dupra (3-4, 5.51) will take the mound for the Irish against RHP Andy Altemus (1-0, 3.67) of West Virginia.

— ND —