On the eve of Notre Dame's senior day, it was the senior quartet of Ryan Connolly, Evan Sharpley, Jeremy Barnes and most noticeably Sam Elam that help the Irish rally from a 6-0 deficit and secure a thrilling 7-6 victory over USF Saturday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium.
Barnes drew a bases loaded, game winning walk in the bottom of the ninth inning. Notre Dame improves to 29-19 overall and 13-10, while the Bulls drop to 30-19 and 17-6.
With the Irish trailing 6-5 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, AJ Pollock greeted Joe Cole with a RBI single back up the middle to tie the score, 6-6. USF then elected to intentionally walk sophomore Golden Tate to load the bases with one out for Barnes. Cole proceeded to walk Barnes on four straight pitches.
Elam picked up the win in relief. The southpaw (1-1) tossed 4.2 scoreless innings of dominant relief to register his first career victory. Elam yielded just two hits, one of which did not even leave the infield. He struck out four and walked four. Elam kept the Bulls quiet over the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth inning. He has now fanned 32 batters in 23.1 innings of work this season.
Barnes went 2-for-3 with a solo home run and four RBI, while Pollock went 2-for-5 with a run scored and three RBI. McConnell also added two hits for Notre Dame.
Barnes brought the Irish within a run, 6-5, following his team-best ninth home run of the season in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Irish and Bulls return to action tomorrow afternoon with the third and final game of the series. Junior Eric Maust (Alpharetta, Ga.) will take the hill for Notre Dame. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m.