Brett Lilley hit a pair of three-run home runs and pitcher Jeff Manship struck out 10 en route to a 14-12 win over Seton Hall in South Orange, New Jersey, avoiding the Pirates from taking both contests on Saturday. In splitting the pair of games, Notre Dame moved their record to 38-12-1 overall and 18-4-1 in the conference.
The picture wasn't a pretty one in the first contest. Irish pitcher Jeff Samardzija (6-2) made his shorting outing of the season, lasting only three innings and giving up six runs and six hits while walking three in Notre Dame's 7-6 loss to Seton Hall in the opening game. The Irish had the tying run on base in the ninth but were unable to drive the run home en route to the loss.
Things got better in the second contest of the afternoon. Lilley hit two three-run blasts and Manship looked in control as Notre Dame jumped out to a 14-4 advantage. To put Lilley's power surge in perspective, it was the sophomore's first two homers of the season. The situation was looking rosy was for the Irish going into the 9th inning up 10 runs but Seton Hall mounted a serious comeback, plating eight runs in the last inning to cut the lead to 14-12 before freshman reliever Kyle Weiland closed the door for this 13th save of the season. He is now is tied with J.P. Gagne for saves in one season. Manship recorded his eighth win of the year to only one loss.
The rubber match of the three-game series comes tomorrow. Tom Thornton takes the mound for Notre Dame in the finale. First pitch is slated for noon on the East Coast. The senior left hander is 5-1 on the year with a 4.17 ERA.
***The Notre Dame Sports Information Department contributed greatly to this report.