Notre Dame baseball: Irish get Bullish, advance to final

Staff reports
ND Insider

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Notre Dame sophomore Ryan Bull hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning to score Charlie Markson and propel seventh-seeded Notre Dame to a 3-2 Big East Tournament semifinal win over Pittsburgh and a berth in its first league championship game since 2006.

The Irish (34-23) will face eighth-seeded Connecticut (33-26), which downed No. 5 seed Rutgers, 2-1, in the other semifinal. The two surprise finalists clash at noon Sunday for the league crown.

Senior ace right-hander Adam Norton (10-4, 2.13 ERA), on three days rest, is expected to start for Notre Dame in the final, which will be televised on ESPNU.

The Irish swept a three-game set at home against the Huskies in April.

Freshman Nick McCarty (5-4) picked up the win Saturday with 3Ð innings of scoreless relief for the Irish, including escaping a self-produced jam in the top of the 10th.

With runners at first and second with one out, McCarty thought there was a pick-off play on at first. McCarty was mistaken, and with first baseman Trey Mancini playing behind the runner, McCarty’s pick-off effort sailed into the stands to put runners and second and third.

The right-hander then induced a pop-up and got a called third strike on Boo Vazquez to get out of the inning and let the Notre Dame offense get to work.

Markson reached on an error to start the Irish 10th, and Frank DeSico put down a sacrifice bunt that was fielded cleanly and tossed to second in time to cut down Markson. However, the Panther second baseman couldn’t find the bag with his foot and both runners were safe on the error.

Mac Hudgins sacrificed the runners to second and third, and Pittsburgh (42-17) opted to intentionally walk Big East batting champion Eric Jagielo to load the bases for the league’s second-leading hitter, Trey Mancini. Mancini hit a shallow pop fly for the second out.

Bull, who had been 1-for-12 in the tournament, then laced a 1-1 fastball into left field for the game-winner.

Sean Fitzgerald started for Notre Dame and went 6ð innings, giving up two runs — one earned — on seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts against the team that led the league in hitting and runs scored.

Jagielo finished 2-for-4 with a walk and a pair of RBIs for Notre Dame.

NOTRE DAME 3, PITTSBURGH 2

At Clearwater, Fla.

Pittsburgh0100010000 — 2 10 5
Notre Dame1010000001 — 3 þ8 2

Casey Roche, Jonathan Danielczyk (6, L, 2-1); Sean Fitzgerald, Nick McCarty (7, W, 5-4).

2B: Eric Jagielo (ND).

3B: Mac Hudgins (ND).

Records: Pittsburgh 42-17, Notre Dame 34-23.