April 15, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Cincinnati baseball team salvaged its three-game BIG EAST Conference series by topping University of Notre Dame 6-2 Sunday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium.
Cincinnati (12-23, 2-10 BIG EAST) redshirt sophomore right-hander Christian McElroy (Middletown, Ohio/Monroe/Sinclair CC) kept the UND (19-16, 6-6 BIG EAST) batsmen at bay most of the game after he allowed just one run on three hits while striking out four in a career-high seven innings pitched.
Eight of nine Bearcats in the UC lineup produced at least one base hit, including a career-high-tying three hits from senior catcher Jake Saylor (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton/Paradise Valley CC). Senior designated hitter T.J. Jones (Cincinnati, Ohio/La Salle) continued his torrid series against the Fighting Irish, going 2 for 4 with three RBIs and his team–leading fourth home run.
Junior center fielder Jake Proctor (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) singled to lead off the sixth and scored three batters later when Jones stroked a 1-1 pitch from Irish reliever Sean Fitzgerald, who was facing his first batter of the game, over the left-center fence for a two-run bomb that put UC in front 6-1.
The Bearcats offense showed patience in the early innings, running up the pitch count of Notre Dame starting pitcher Pat Connaughton enough to force him to exit the ballgame after four innings. Connaughton was tough during his brief outing, allowing just one run on three hits and striking out four.
Cincinnati broke through with three runs in the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore right fielder Justin Glass (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) and freshman third baseman Joey Bielek (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chapparal) produced consecutive singles to lead off the frame. Jones singled with a Baltimore Chop over third base to drive in Glass. On the next pitch after Jones was caught stealing at second base, Saylor singled through the left side to score Bielek from third. Following a pitching change, junior second baseman J.P. Jackson (Bowling Green, Ky./Bowling Green/Western Kentucky) hit a first-pitch single up the middle that plated Saylor and put the Bearcats up 4-1.
Bearcats freshman right-hander Art Warren (Stryker, Ohio/Napoleon) pitched the final two innings for UC, allowing one run and striking out two.
UC got the scoring started with a run in the top of the fourth inning. Saylor led off with a single to shortstop, followed by a walk by sophomore shortstop Matt Williams (Mason, Ohio/Cincinnati Hills Christian). Jackson’s bunt rolled right toward Connaughton, who threw out Saylor at third, keeping runners on first and second. Redshirt freshman Ethan McAlpine (Cincinnati, Ohio/Moeller) singled to center field, scoring Williams from second.
Notre Dame responded with one run in the bottom half of the fourth. Following a one-out walk, Williams’ errant throw to second base put runners on the corners, setting up a sacrifice fly from Irish first baseman Mac Hudgins that tied the score 1-1. A hit batsman and a walk loaded the bases with two outs, but McElroy settled down to fan UND designated hitter Ryan Bull.
Cincinnati will take a break from BIG EAST action by playing two midweek games; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at No. 1 Kentucky and 7 p.m. Wednesday at Ohio State, which will be televised live on Big Ten Network.