Sophomore A.J. Pollock.

Western Michigan Upends Irish, 6-4

May 12, 2008

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Western Michigan senior Brian Schutzbach tossed 4.1 scoreless innings of relief to lead the Broncos past Notre Dame, 6-4, in non-conference baseball action from Frank Eck Stadium Monday night. The Irish drop to 33-15-1, while Western Michigan improves to 27-19-1.

Schutzbach entered the game following sophomore A.J. Pollock’s (Hebron, Conn.) two-run home run in the fifth brought the Irish within a run, 5-4, and proceeded to retire the next eight Notre Dame batters before Pollock laid down a one-out, bunt single in the bottom of the eighth inning.

After junior Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.) fouled out, junior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) and senior Ross Brezovsky (Naples, Fla.) followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases, but senior Sean Gaston (Brownsburg, Ind.) flew out to end the inning. Including the Gaston fly out, Notre Dame dropped to 2-for-15 — just .133 — over its last 11 games with the bases loaded.

Schutzbach would then send Notre Dame in order in the ninth to secure the victory. He improved to 3-0 on the season. Schutzbach allowed three hits and did not issue a walk over the outing. He struck out three.

Freshman Brian Dupra (Rochester, N.Y.) was tagged with the loss. He tossed just 2.0+ innings and allowed five runs, four earned, on five hits. Dupra did strikeout three without a walk.

Gaston, Pollock, Brezovsky and freshman Greg Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) all added two hits apiece. Gaston is hitting .600 (6-for-10) over the last three games, while the rest of the Irish are hitting just .207 (19-for-92).

Freshman Todd Miller (Franklin, Tenn.) was outstanding in relief. He tossed 3.2 hitless and scoreless innings. Miller struck out three and did not walk a batter.

Western Michigan grabbed an early 1-0 lead thanks in part to a couple of wild pitches from Dupra. Kyle Galbraith pulled a one-out single through the hole into left field. After consecutive errant offerings from Dupra, Galbraith moved to third base and coasted home on Chris Lewis’ RBI ground out.

Dupra rebounded from the rough first inning with a crisp second frame, striking out the side on just 14 pitches.

Notre Dame rode that momentum and plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. Brezovsky laced a one-out double into the left centerfield gap. After Gaston singled to left field, moving Brezovsky to third base, sophomore Billy Boockford (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) grounded out to second base plating Brezovsky to tie the game, 1-1. Sherry then doubled down the left field line to give Notre Dame a 2-1 lead.

The Broncos wasted no time in regaining the lead. After fanning three times in the top of the second, Western Michigan tagged Dupra with four consecutive hits to open the inning, including doubles from Grant Simotes and Lewis to take a 4-2 advantage.

That would end the day for Dupra.

Ryan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) would relieve Dupra and quickly retire Matthew Abro on a pop up for the first out of the inning. With a runner still in scoring position, Sharpley then snagged a ground ball off the bat of Joe Sheets and had Abro caught between second and third base. The freshman then inexplicably decided to throw back to first base, but his throw was errant. Abro trotted home on the error to make the score, 5-2, and Sheets ended up on third, but Sharpley would fan the next two Broncos to end the inning.

Sharpley would hold Western Michigan scoreless over the next two innings before Pollock brought the Irish within a run, 5-4, in the bottom of the fifth inning with his fourth home run of the season. The blast snapped a 2-for-18 skid.

The Broncos did get a run off Sharpley in the top of the sixth inning.

Miller did his part to keep the Irish close, but Notre Dame was simply unable to mount anything off Schutzbach.

The Irish return to action Tuesday night with their annual battle against Michigan at 5th/3rd Bank Ballpark in Comstock Park, Mich. First pitch between Notre Dame and the Wolverines is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. The game can be heard live on ESPN Radio 1490 AM and

— ND —