Six Irish hitters collected multiple hits for the Irish on Wednesday as Notre Dame plated 15 runs on 16 hits to defeat Chicago State.
Sophomore DH Mike Dury led the Irish with a 3-for-5 night, 3 RBI, a double, and tape-measure homer in the bottom of the first to give the Irish the early 3-2 lead.
Freshman Joey Williamson (1-1) struggled early keeping the ball down on a windy night, but settled down to pick up the win. Williamson allowed three runs in four innings, but held the Irish lead before giving way to the Irish bullpen.
Chicago State added a run in the top of the third, but the Irish used solid nights by Alex Nettey (2-for-5, RBI, R), Brett Lilley (1-for-2, 2R, 2 RBI,), Craig Cooper (2-for-5, 2R, 3 RBI), Ross Brezovsky (2-for-4, R), and Greg Lopez (2-for-5, 2B, R, 2 RBI) to put away Chicago State.
Sophomore Danny Dressman (2-for-2, R 3 RBI) also came off the bench to have a solid night at the plate.
Dury, the star of the day, also added two scoreless innings of relief on the mound before giving away to the rest of the Irish pitchers.
"The way the game started out, they were really swinging the bats well," said Irish coach Paul Mainieri after the game. "I think they got eight hits in the first three innings. The wind was really blowing.
But Dury quickly erased some early damage done by Chicago State hitters.
"Dury really got into that three-run home run. That was a big blow for us," said Mainieri. "I was glad Joey Williamson pitched a good inning in the fourth inning. We just thought ‘lets get him out after he had a good, positive inning.' We wanted to run a lot of guys out there to get them a little work."
Also pitching an inning of relief was senior John Axford. Axford is coming off an elbow injury, and hasn't pitched much for the Irish this season. Notre Dame's fate could depend a lot on how soon Axford can return to form after winning nine games for the Irish in 2003.
"The highlight of the night for me was John Axford," Mainieri said. "I just thought John looked fantastic. I think he threw 11 strikes out of 18 pitches. It looked like his velocity was there. He threw some good curveballs. He's going to start Wednesday against Ball State."
The Irish will now head to New Jersey over the weekend to play rival Rutgers in a three-game series beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday.
"This is the series that we always look at over the course of the year because so many years going into the league, it seems Notre Dame or Rutgers wins the league every year," said Mainieri of the Scarlet Knights. "We've got quite a rivalry going with them, and they're playing great baseball right now.
I think we're starting to find our way a little bit also. Our confidence is growing. It's a tough place to play; it's a tough place to win. We're going to go out there excited this weekend, and we're going to go after them, and hopefully we're going to have a lot of success out there this weekend."