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Notre Dame Baseball wins

May 10, 2014
INDIANA SPORTS PAGE



NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame baseball team plated two runs in the
third inning and junior RHP Pat Connaughton did the rest with some help from senior
closer Donnie Hissa as the Irish kicked off its first game on the new FieldTurf at
Frank Eck Stadium with a 2-1 victory over the No. 22 Clemson Tigers that was seen
nationally on ESPNU.

In the first game at the Eck since May 5, 2013, the Irish did their damage early and
then held on for the rest of the contest with snazzy defense and timely pitching
leading the way. The game-deciding inning came all the way back in the third. After
a thrilling double play kept the Tigers off the scoreboard in the top half of the
inning, the Irish used that momentum to plate what proved to be the two winning runs
in the bottom half of the frame. After Kevin DeFilippis was issued a walk with one
out, Kyle Richardson cracked a monster triple to left center field on the first
pitch he saw to push one run across the plate. Just two pitches later, freshman
Cavan Biggio hit his ACC-leading eighth sac fly of the year to make the score 2-0.

Those two runs would be enough for Connaughton and his bullpen as the Arlington,
Mass., native worked around walks and wild pitches with the help of some sterling
Notre Dame defense to hold the ACC's top hitting team (.284 average) to just one run
on three hits.

In addition to the bases loaded jam in the third inning, Connaughton worked around a
double in the first, a double in the seventh, and three walks and two wild pitches
in the eighth. The eighth inning gave the Tigers their loan run of the game as
Garrett Boulware hit a sac fly to left field to score Tyler Slaton.

After a lead-off walk in the ninth, Connaughton was removed for Hissa. The 6-7
righty allowed a single to put runners on the corners with one out, but struck out
the next two batters he faced to give the Irish the win.

"It was really neat to come out here in front of this crowd for the first time this
year," said head coach Mik Aoki. "I thought our guys did a great job of coming out
here and playing with some energy and certainly the field was a boost for them. They
were excited to come out here and play.

"The thing I'm most proud of about these guys is that we have been in this type of
game so many times this year and have had it go against us. We talk all the time
about the past being the past and concentrating on the current pitch and it paid off
for us tonight. It would have been really easy to be like 'here we go again' when a
couple things went wrong in the ninth and bring that defeatist attitude into those
pitches, especially with Donnie (Hissa) having been on the mound for some of those
tough finishes. But he made two huge pitches. Those two breaking balls he made to
strike out the two guys were great breaking balls. And between Pat and Donnie we did
it against statistically speaking the best offense in the ACC."

Connaughton (2-5) finished the outing with eight innings pitched and allowing three
hits, eight walks, three wild pitches and one run in 108 pitches. Hissa picked up
his team-leading third save of the season with a clean ninth inning.

Clemson left 10 guys on base to just five for the Irish. Neither team committed an
error as both defenses made remarkable catch after remarkable catch throughout the
night.

"I thought Kyle (Richardson) made some great catches in center and what's
understated was Ryan (Bull) sticking with that ball he lost in the lights and making
the catch," said Aoki. "That was a big moment. Phil (Mosey) also made a diving catch
on that little liner towards no-man's land in the eighth and the double play we
turned in the third with the bases loaded was critical. I thought Pat (Connaughton)
fought himself a bit tonight, but he competed out there, made pitches when he needed
to and received some help from our defense."

Senior catcher Forrest Johnson had the lone two-hit night for the Irish as he
produced a pair of singles.

Clemson starting pitcher Matthew Crownover (6-5) suffered the loss after giving up
two runs on six hits in seven innings of work.

The Irish have now won three games over ranked opponents this year as Friday night's
victory is added to a 9-2 decision over then-No. 24 Florida Atlantic to open the
year and a 7-4 win at then-No. 11 Miami a few weeks ago.

Notre Dame (18-30, 5-20 ACC) and the Tigers (30-20, 12-12 ACC) get back to action at
2:05 p.m. Saturday at Frank Eck Stadium. Fans can watch the game on WatchND's video
broadcast with Chuck Freeby on the call or follow gametracker. Tickets are still
available for Saturday's game. Adult tickets are $5 while youth and senior tickets
are $3. Notre Dame students, faculty and staff are admitted free with a Notre Dame
ID.


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