CARY, N.C. – University of Notre Dame senior Adam Norton tossed a complete-game, four-hit shutout to lead the No. 22 Irish past No. 25 Virginia Tech, 3-0, Saturday at the 2013 USA Baseball-Irish Classic. Notre Dame, now 8-1 on the year, has not posted a better record over its first nine games of a season since 1960 (9-0). The Hokies dropped to 10-2.
In a word, Norton (3-0) was marvelous. The right-handed hurler collected Notre Dame’s first complete game shutout over a top-25 opponent since Danny Tamayo blanked Mississippi State in the Starkville Regional on May 28, 2000.
Norton completely baffled a Virginia Tech lineup that entered the game with a .337-team batting average and averaged 8.3 runs/game. He retired the first 10 Hokies of the game before Sean Keselica singled with one out in the fourth inning. Norton promptly sent down the next six Virginia Tech hitters before a bunt single in the top of the sixth inning.
Norton did not allow another base runner until two outs in the top of the ninth inning – another stretch of 10 consecutive retired Hokies for Norton. He was one out away from a two-hit shutout, but Virginia Tech rallied in the ninth inning. The Hokies got back-to-back singles from Chad Pinder and Mark Zagunis to bring the potential tying run to the plate.
All that stood in between Norton and the victory, complete game and shutout was Virginia Tech slugger Tyler Moran, who only set the Cape Cod League record with 16 home runs this summer.
After a brief mound visit from Irish pitching coach Chuck Ristano, Norton got Moran to pop out to the catcher to end the game.
Norton struck out five and walked one. He faced 32 batters and needed just 108 pitches (76 strikes). Norton lowered his season ERA to 1.71 with his third career complete game.
Junior 1B Trey Mancini took care of everything else. After missing Friday night’s game against Tennessee with an injury, Mancini returned to the lineup and drilled a two-run home run down the right-field line in the bottom of the fourth inning to give the Irish a 2-0 lead. The home run was his second in as many days, third of the season and 24th of his career.
Mancini added an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning – once again taking a pitch on the outside corner and driving it to right field.
The three-run cushion was more than enough for Norton.
Virginia Tech starting pitcher Brad Markey (2-1) was just as good as Norton sans two pitches to Mancini and took the tough-luck loss. The righty allowed three earned runs on five hits and struck out seven in 8.0 innings.
The Irish return to action Sunday morning at 11 a.m. against Rhode Island.