Irish coach Paul Mainieri got some outstanding pitching performances out of a number of his top young pitching prospects on Tuesday, and the Irish plated 12 runs on 13 hits in an efficient effort at the plate.
Sophomore lefty David Gruener picked up his first win in his first start of the season, allowing just one hit in three innings of work.
Gruener faced just four batters to close out the top of the second, and the Irish exploded in the bottom of the inning, scoring seven runs on seven hits, and giving the young Notre Dame pitching staff all the runs they'd need to win the game.
Notre Dame (13-8) put together a team effort at the plate slugging 13 hits and we're led by junior Danny Dressman (2-for-3, 2R, RBI) and senior Alex Nettey (2-for-4, R, 2 RBI). Reserve Eddie Smith also picked up two RBI in his only official at-bat of the game.
Irish head coach Paul Mainieri was thrilled with his team's performance, especially his young pitchers after Tuesday's game.
"I thought that was really the key to the game tonight and that was really encouraging for the future of our program," Mainieri said of his young hurlers. "David Gruener has been pitching well all year. We've been using him as kind of a guy to come out of the pen, we just decided to give him a start tonight, and I thought he got us out to a great start with three shut-out innings, and then it was a planned rotation and it played out exactly as we hoped it would.
"We brought in Brett Graffey, who's pitched a couple of times. He had missed all of fall practice with a sore arm so he's just kind of proving himself to us. He's got a good arm. David Phelps had struggled in some earlier outings. It was nice to see him go out and give us two shut-out innings. Sam Elam, you talk about a guy throwing close to 90 miles per hour from the left side, those kind of guys don't grow on trees. If he throws the ball over the plate, he's as tough as anybody."
Another freshman has also caught Mainieri's eye of late and should see a lot of playing time in the future.
"I thought it was encouraging to see Jeremy Barnes play some innings at shortstop and play as well as he did defensively," Mainieri said of the freshman utility man. "He's going to become one of our mainstays as a hitter. I batted him third in the order. You're going to see that for awhile now. I'm going to find a way to get him in the lineup every day. I thought he hit the ball (well), and that was important for our team as well."
The Irish team as a whole hit the ball well, stranding just eight base runners on the evening.
"We strung together some hits, and when everybody goes up and has good quality at-bats and hits hard ground balls and line drives, we can have a big inning," said Mainieri of the seven-run second inning. "Those are the kind of things we've got to do. We've got to execute the hit-and-run, squeeze bunt once in a while, come through with clutch singles, run the bases well. If we do that, we've got a good offensive team. I've been saying all along; ‘consistency is the key.' Hopefully we'll come out tomorrow and play well offensively again."
The Irish will host another game at Frank Eck Stadium today with a game against Western Michigan. Sophomore Wade Korpi is expected to start the 5:05 p.m. game.