Wright State Pitchers Too Much For Irish

With a wicked cold March breeze blowing out to right, the Irish baseball team couldn't find their bats on Tuesday against some outstanding Wright State pitching. The Irish lost their home opener, 4-2, to the Raiders, and dropped to 9-7 on the season.

Irish lefty Wade Korpi (1-1) took the mound for Notre Dame and had a strong first inning, allowing zero runs and recording his first two of nine strikeouts in his third start.

Wright State followed with starter Erich Shantz to the mound on Tuesday, and the impressive Schantz curveball kept Irish hitters off balance through 4 2/3 innings.

The Irish scraped together their first run in the bottom of the first when Irish leadoff hitter Craig Cooper doubled to right. Cooper moved to third on a Danny Dressman sacrifice bunt, and later scored on a wild pitch to give the Irish the early 1-0 lead.

Wright State came storming back in the top of the second when Raider first baseman Jeremy Hamilton hit a two-out double to left. Irish left fielder Matt Bransfield bobbled the throw to allow a Raider runner to score from first.

Three straight two-out singles then plated two more runs for the Raiders to allow Wright State to gain the early 3-1 lead.

That was all the runs Wright State would need as the Raider pitching staff took over. Wright State hurlers allowed just two more Irish hits and one unearned run in the final eight innings.

The Irish collected just four total hits, and one extra base hit in nine innings.

After the game Irish head coach Paul Mainieri gave the Wright State pitching staff credit for the win.

"The story of game I thought was Wright State's pitching," Mainieri said. "I just thought they pitched unbelievable. I told their coach after the game; ‘if you keep pitching like that, you're going to win a lot of games this year.'

"Their kid that started the game kept falling behind on counts and then throwing breaking balls…1-0, 3-2 breaking balls. The kid they brought in at the end, that pitched three innings, he's good. There were a lot of pro scouts here today to see him pitch tonight. He just kind of overmatched us at the end."

The usually solid Irish defense also made a few costly blunders in the field that didn't help Notre Dame's chances of winning according to Mainieri.

"The conditions were really difficult for both teams to play under," he said. "It was really cold and windy out there. I thought the play in the second inning, when Bransfield got to the ball in the gap and just dropped it, and allowed the runner to score from first base was really kind of a pivotal play. We muffed a bunt when they sacrificed bunted in the seventh inning. We had a miscommunication between our first baseman and pitcher and they added on another run there, which I thought was really critical."

In the end it was the Raider pitching that won the game for Wright State. Mainieri commented again on how impressed he was with the opposition's hurlers on Thursday.

"You just tip your hat to them," he said. "We didn't hit well, but I attribute it more to their pitching than anything else."

The Irish will be back at Frank Eck Stadium again tomorrow for a 5:05 EST game against Central Michigan. Freshman David Phelps will make his second Irish start of the season on Wednesday.

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