Notre Dame pounded out 13 hits and Samardzija worked eight innings of four-run ball as the Irish beat the Mountaineers 12-4 down in Clearwater, Florida. It was the team's ninth straight win in the Big East Tournament, which is a record for the conference. Notre Dame (43-14-1) now gets a reward for their winning ways: a day off. The Irish will next play on Friday against the winner of today's West Virginia-St. John's battle. The Mountaineers and Red Storm would have to beat Notre Dame twice tomorrow to advance to Saturday's championship game. For the Irish, it's simple: one win on Friday and they'll have a shot at a second straight Big East Tournament title.
The formula for success in the contest was more offense than pitching. Jeremy Barnes went 3-for-5 in the game, driving in three while also scoring a pair of runs. The freshman is making quite an impression in his first tournament appearance. In the two games so far in Clearwater, Florida, Barnes is a combined 6-for-9 with five RBI's. The freshman wasn't the only one enjoying a feast off of Mountaineer pitching. Junior Sean Gaston had three hits in the game while scoring and driving in a run. He now has five total hits in the tournament. Ross Brezovsky went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two driven in, including a home run in the second inning, his third of the year. Matt Bransfield also homered for Notre Dame for the sixth time this season.
Samardzija wasn't great but good enough. The junior right hander went eight innings, allowing four runs on nine hits while striking out six. His only major mistake was a two-run home run surrendered to Stan Posluszny in the first inning. Samardzija improved his season record to 8-2.
***The Notre Dame Sports Information Department contributed greatly to this report.