The University of Cincinnati used a pair of two-out rallies in each of the first two innings to race out to a 6-1 lead, put the game out of reach with a three-run sixth inning and ultimately disposed of the University of Notre Dame, 11-5, Saturday afternoon at Marge Schott Stadium. The Fighting Irish drop to 31-23 overall and 10-14 in the BIG EAST, while Cincinnati improves to 24-32 and 6-18.
Notre Dame will enter next week’s 2013 BIG EAST Tournament as the No. 7 seed. The Irish will face No. 2-seed Seton Hall at 1 p.m. on Wed., May 22 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. Notre Dame took two of three from the Pirates during the regular season.
Junior 3B and All-American candidate Eric Jagielo was the only Irish player with more than one hit. He went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, two RBI and his ninth home run of the season. Junior 1B and All-American candidate Trey Mancini extended his hitting streak to 22 games. He went 1-for-5 and just missed closing the regular season with a batting average above .400. Mancini needed a base hit in his final at bat of the game to raise his average to .401.
Junior RHP Dan Slania tossed 3.0 scoreless innings of relief. He blanked the Bearcats on a pair of singles. Slania fanned four and walked one. He lowered his ERA to a miniscule 1.04.
Junior RHP Sean Fitzgerald took the loss for the Irish and dropped to 5-4 on the season. He was roughed up for six earned runs on six hits in just 2.0 innings of work. Fitzgerald struck out one and walked one.
Fitzgerald retired the first two Bearcat batters in both the first and second inning, but ran into trouble in each frame immediately afterwards.
In the first, Ian Happ pulled a single just underneath the glove of Mancini at first base and into right field before Matt Williams laced an RBI double to the wall in right centerfield that tied the score, 1-1.
Fitzgerald needed just two pitches to retire Ryan Quinn and Jeff Murray to open the second, but a two-out walk preceded a bloop double from JP Jackson that landed on the right field line and an infield single from Ethan McAlpine that gave Cincinnati a 2-1 lead. Justin Glass then pulled a two-run double down the right-field line and Happ followed with a two-run home run that pushed the Bearcat advantage to 6-1. Jackson’s bloop double, McAlpine’s infield single and Happ’s round tripper came on Fitzgerald’s first pitch of each at bat. In fact, Cincinnati plated the five runs on just five pitches.
Junior RHP Donnie Hissa did not fare much better in the bottom of the third. He issued a leadoff walk, followed by a hit-by-pitch and then Murray doubled in a run that gave the Bearcats a 7-1 advantage. Woody Wallace followed with an RBI single and the Irish were down 8-1.
Notre Dame battled back with a run in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth that cut the deficit to 8-5, but Mitch Patishall managed to evade much more trouble.
Jagielo opened the fourth with a solo home and the Irish eventually loaded the bases with just one out, but the Cincinnati freshman got junior C Forrest Johnson to pop out and senior CF and co-captain Charlie Markson to foul out that ended the threat.
Notre Dame again loaded the bases in the fifth and plated two runs when freshman SS Lane Richards' ground ball evaded the Bearcats third baseman. With Cincinnati’s lead now 8-4 and two more runners in scoring position, Patishall got sophomore LF Mac Hudgins to pop out to end the inning.
The Irish added another unearned run in the top of the sixth, but Cincinnati eliminated any hope of an Irish comeback in the bottom of the inning. Three consecutive Bearcat base hits loaded the bases with no outs before a walk (Notre Dame’s seventh of eighth on the day) made the score, 9-5. Another bloop single and sacrifice fly rounded out the scoring.
The 11-5 lead was more than enough cushion from Andrew Strenge and Thomas Gentile, who combined to blank the Irish over the last three innings.
Patishall evened his record at 4-4 on the year with the win. He scattered eight hits and five runs over 6.0 innings of work. Patishall fanned two and walked two.
Happ went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and two RBI, while Glass, Williams, Wenzel and Jackson all collected two hits.
Notre Dame used seven pitchers on the day.