Irish Split a Pair With St. John's

The Notre Dame baseball team split a pair of games with St. John's on Monday. The Irish won the first game 7-1 over the Red Storm, but dropped the final game 2-1 in a disappointing loss for the Irish.

Junior Grant Johnson took the mound in the first game pitching his most masterful game of the season thus far. Johnson pitched five very impressive innings, allowing just two hits, zero walks and zero runs to pick up his second win of the season.

The Irish got on the board first in the bottom of the second. Matt Bransfield walked and was later knocked in on a Cody Rizzo double down the right field line. A fielding error on the play allowed Bransfield to score. Rizzo later scored on a RBI single by Greg Lopez to give the Irish 2-0 lead.

The Irish got another run in the fifth when Lopez led off with a double. He later scored on another fielding error by the Red Storm to give the Irish the 3-0 lead.

St. John's would pick up a run in the sixth, but the Irish plated four more in the bottom of the sixth fueled by a Cody Rizzo RBI triple, a Chris Fournier RBI single and a Matt Macri RBI single shutting the door on the Red Storm.

Irish lefty Joe Thaman pitched the sixth and the seventh to pick up his first save of the season and to give the Irish the 7-1 win.

The second game featured freshmen phenom Jeff Samardzija getting the start on the mound. Samardzija found himself in a pitching duel against Red Storm lefty Matt Tosoni.

Samardzija pitched six hitless, scoreless innings and looked to be cruising for his second win of the season and a possible no-hitter.

In the top of the seventh, Samardzija retired the first hitter of the inning, but then St. John's third baseman Jim Martin reached on a error in the next at-bat. Samardzija then struck out the next hitter recording the second out of the inning, but Joe Burke doubled scoring Martin to tie the game, 1-1. First baseman Eric Shultz then singled scoring Burke to give the Red Storm the 2-1 lead.

The Irish threatened in the bottom of the seventh with two straight singles by Cooper and Lopez with one out, but the threat ended when Sean Gaston hit into a double play ending the inning. The Irish had chances in the eighth and the ninth but came up short at the plate as they had all game.

"I thought that was really amazing," said Irish Coach Paul Mainieri of Samardzija's pitching performance. "I thought he'd pitch well because he's been pitching well for us all year. Wow, when he went out there and was dealing the way he was, I would've thought we'd have a really good chance to win the game. We just couldn't muster any offense."

Mainieri was noticeably disappointed in his team and their hitting performance. "That lefthander was throwing the ball about as hard as I throw in batting practice and we couldn't do anything with him. We were pulling off balls trying to pull him all day and just couldn't get any offense going. It was really a shame to waste a pitching performance like that."

Grant Johnson continues to progress nicely in his recovery from shoulder surgery and appears very close to being able to go seven plus innings for the Irish. Mainieri was also thrilled about Johnson's performance. "Grant threw great last week, but that was even better today. That was really encouraging. I thought he just threw outstanding. I thought we had tremendous pitching all day today. It was really a shame that we couldn't finish off the two-game sweep."

It just seemed to be one of those days for the Irish and Mainieri. Even Mainieri struggled in the field as he was tossed from the game arguing a play at third base—something you will very rarely see.

Javi Sanchez hit a double into right-center field and was trying to stretch his double into a triple but was thrown out at third base.

"I didn't think it was that close of a play," said Mainieri of the call. "I was pretty shocked when I saw the out call. Unfortunately I just overreacted and threw my hat down and he had to throw me out the game when I did that. I deserved it. I lost my cool for a minute and I wasn't able to manage my team through a tough ballgame so I feel kind of bad about that, that I let the guys down doing that."

Judging by our view, Mainieri had every right to argue as it was a terrible call and likely cost the Irish the game.

This loss was very disappointing for the Irish who remained ranked as high at No.4 by Collegiate Baseball Poll. Every poll had the Irish ranked in the top 10 heading into this game.

The Irish will be back in action on Wednesday with a game against Oakland at 5:05 PM at Eck Stadium. Top Stories