Irish Pick Up First Home Win

The Notre Dame baseball team picked up their first home win of the season defeating Detroit, 16-6 at Eck Stadium on Wednesday night. The Irish (14-3) won what many would consider an ugly game, but it was a win none the less.

The Irish jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on the Titans in the first inning as Titan pitcher Rob Galbraith walked the first two Irish hitters he faced in Danny Dressman and Steve Sollmann. Both runners advanced on a Galbraith wild pitch and Dressman scored when Irish first baseman Matt Edwards reached on an error.

Sollmann and Edwards then scored on two sacrifice flies by sophomore Steve Andres and junior Matt Macri giving the Irish the 3-0 lead.

The Irish picked up another run in the third with a Matt Bransfield RBI single scoring Andres to give the Irish the 4-1 lead.

The Irish brought out the whooping sticks in the fifth inning as Marci and Bransfield plated another three runs with back-to-back homers giving the Irish the 7-1 lead.

Notre Dame picked up another four runs in the sixth fueled by RBI singles by Greg Lopez and Sean Gaston putting the game out of reach for the Titans.

Detroit had a hard time finding the plate on the mound as Titan pitchers walked 12 Irish batters and also issued free passes to three more Irish hitters after being hit by a pitch.

The Irish were led by two of their bombers, Bransfield (2-for-3, 3 RBI, HR, R) and Marci (1-for-1, 3 RBI, HR, 3R), at the plate. Dressman (2-for-2, Run), Andres (1-for-1, 2B, 3R), Lopez (1-for-3, RBI, Run) and Gaston (2-for-3, RBI) also had good days with the bat.

Pitching coach Terry Rooney used a number of pitchers on the mound on Wednesday with freshman Jess Stewart getting the start. Stewart (3-0) went three innings, allowing just two hits and one earned run to pick up his third win of the season. Also seeing action were freshmen Chris Vasami, Dan Kapala and Mike Dury. Closer Ryan Doherty threw a scoreless, hitless ninth to finish the game.

Head coach Paul Mainieri wasn't very pleased with the performance of his team the last few days. "I don't know what it was the last couple of days," said Mainieri. "We just seemed very tentative on the field and especially at the plate. We manufactured a few runs and it was good to see a lot of guys get out there on the mound. I'm just glad to get that one in the win column."

Mainieri said he was pleased with some of his pitchers on Wednesday. "I thought Dan Kapala threw well. I thought Ryan Doherty threw well. I thought Mike Dury showed he could be counted on."

The offense has been slowed recently because of the struggles of two Irish stars, Steve Sollmann and Matt Edwards. Both are currently struggling at the plate but Mainieri doesn't expect that to last for long. "A couple of the guys are really struggling. Steve Sollmann and Matt Edwards, those are two of our guys. Our offense is going to go as Sollmann and Edwards go. Both of them have not been swinging the bats the way that I know they're capable of. I'm not concerned about it. Everybody goes through these things."

"For 13 games, Matt Edwards was swinging the bat great," Mainieri continued. "He was carrying the team on offense. Steve Sollmann, this is very typical of him, he struggles early in the year. I will promise you within a month that Steve Sollmann will be hitting about .340, and he'll be hot, and he'll be carrying this team along with Matt Edwards. I would really like to see them get hot this weekend at West Virginia—that would make me very happy."

The Irish will have the next couple of days off before heading to Morgantown, W. Va. for a three-game series with the Mountaineers in Notre Dame's first BIG EAST action of the season. "The only thing I'm 100 percent sure of is Niesel pitching the first game," said Mainieri about the rotation for this weekend. "I may even save Thornton for the third day. Derik Olvey's elbow is bothering him a little bit. We may play it cautiously and not pitch him this weekend. If that's the case, I'm considering Jeff Samardzija for a starting job. The problem is he has to be at football practice on Monday. If we have rain on Saturday or Sunday and have to stay over for Monday, I'm going to have to put him on a plane and send him back to school to be here for football practice on Monday."

Notre Dame will play their first BIG EAST weekend this weekend in Morgantown. The Irish play a doubleheader on Saturday with the start of the first game at 1 PM EST and follow with another game at 1 PM EST on Sunday.


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