Pitcher Wade Korpi struck out 11 and Jeremy Barnes drove in a pair of runs as the Irish beat eighth seeded South Florida 3-1 in the first round of the conference tournament. The bracket saw its league regular season champion improve its record to 42-12-1 overall. Notre Dame now moves on to face West Virginia in the winners bracket in the double elimination tournament. First pitch is slated for 8 p.m. on Wednesday in Clearwater, Florida. The Irish did not play the Mountaineers this season as West Virginia stands at 36-20 after beating fourth seed St. John's 5-3.
Korpi was the man on Tuesday. The sophomore left hander tied his career-high with 11 strikeouts in the outing against South Florida. He went six innings, allowing one run on just four hits. Relievers Mike Dury and Kyle Weiland combined to shut the door over the final three innings. Together, the three pitchers struck out 14 hitters, which is a new Notre Dame record in the Big East Tournament.
Barnes was the stud at the plate. The freshman went 3-for-4 with two RBI's in the win. For the season, Barnes now has a team-best 45 runs batted in. This is the second most ever by an Irish freshman. In 1997, Brent Ust had 54 RBI's.
Tomorrow, Notre Dame faces West Virginia. Junior right hander Jeff Samardzija is the probable starter for the Irish. Samardzija went 7-2 on the season with a 4.30 ERA. In 81.2 innings pitched, the junior struck out 52 while walking 34.
***The Notre Dame Sports Information Department contributed greatly to this report.