Error Costly for Irish

<P>The Irish baseball team lost a heartbreaker on Tuesday losing 3-1 to Ball State in the top of the ninth on a routine ground ball as Irish first baseman Matt Edwards dropped the throw from reliever J.P. Gagne. The game was a pitching duel until the ninth, as the Irish bats could not deliver the key hits that they have been most of the season. </P>

Chris Niesel started the game and pitched six strong innings allowing only one run on seven hits while striking out six Cardinal batters. Senior J.P. Gagne threw the final three innings allowing only two hits and the two unearned runs plated in the ninth.

The story of the game was the Cardinal pitchers who shut down the Irish offense all night. Starter Joe Ness pitched six strong innings allowing only one run on four Irish hits. Kory Bucklew and John Pettibone combined to throw the remaining three innings allowing only one hit and no runs in the final three innings.

Steve Sollmann (2-for-4, run) scored the only Irish run with a leadoff double in the bottom of the first and he advanced to third on a fielding error by the shortstop. Sollmann scored the only run as Brennan Grogan grounded out to second base giving Grogan the lone RBI in the game.

Coach Paul Mainieri was understandably upset at the end of the game. He felt very bad for Edwards and even worse about his team's hitting performance. "It was a great baseball game and it was unfortunate that that's the way the game had to end. I feel terrible for Matt Edwards. He's caught a throw like that probably a million times in his life. I'm not really sure what happened, if he took his eye off the throw or what happened. I feel terrible for him and for our team. It was a great game, I wouldn't even want to win a game like that myself."

Mainieri for the first time expressed concern about his offense. Mainieri knew that Edwards wasn't the reason his team lost the game. "I'm a little concerned," said Mainieri. "We don't have a lot of power in our lineup so we've got to string together a lot of hits. It takes a lot of guys giving you a lot of good at-bats and I just didn't feel like we had a many of good at-bats tonight. Their pitching was good. I thought their kids did a good job but I don't think our kids met the challenge tonight. Sooner or later you've got to score some runs. We've just got to find the answers."

Notre Dame (29-9) will try to get back on track tonight at Eck Stadium as they face Cleveland State. Pete Ogilvie returns to the mound after sitting out with an injury for most of the last month. The Irish hope to find their bats tonight, as they will face BIG EAST rival Connecticut ( 18-17, 7-9 in BIG EAST play) on Saturday and Sunday in a three-game series. Connecticut swept the Irish last year in a three-game series and Notre Dame will need to play well if they want to remain at the top of the BIG EAST standings.


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