Irish Lose a Marathon

A marathon ensued between Notre Dame and College of Charleston on Friday afternoon in the opening game of the 2006 NCAA Kentucky Regional. The two teams battled into the 16th inning, which is the second longest game in tournament history. Unfortunately for the Irish, the Cougars finally got the timely hit to make Notre Dame's road to a regional title an uphill battle.

College of Charleston's Ben Lasater doubled down the left field line to score Oliver Marmoi for the winning run as the Cougars beat Notre Dame 5-4 in 16 innings. The Irish will now play tomorrow at 2 p.m. against the loser of the Ball State-Kentucky contest. Notre Dame has their work cut out for themselves. They must win four games in three days to capture the regional crown. A positive note: under head coach Paul Mainieri, no Irish team has been two and done in the tournament. However, after losing the first game, Mainieri and Notre Dame have been unable to come back and win the regional championship.

The outlook early on looked rosy for the Irish. They jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first when Brett Lilley and Steve Andres both had RBI doubles to stake Notre Dame to an advantage. It increased to 3-0 when Alex Nettey led off the second with a home run to left center field, his third on the year.

The Cougars got one back in the bottom of the inning when Irish starter Jeff Samardzija balked in a run to cut the lead to 3-1. Notre Dame's Jeremy Barnes made it 4-1 Irish when he scored from third on Sean Gaston's double play.

The three run lead looked like it was going to be enough for Samardzija. The junior right hander was cruising along poised for the victory until he made a huge mistake. With two on in the sixth, Samardzija served up a three-run homer to Alex Garabedian, tying the contest at 4-all. For the game, Samardzija went eight innings, allowing four runs on seven hits while striking out three.

Notre Dame sure had their fair share of opportunities to plate a run. The Irish outhit College of Charleston 15-11 and stranded 17 runners on base. They did not get a single hit between innings seven and 12 and went scoreless for the final 13 innings of the contest. Notre Dame's best shot might have come in the 15th when they loaded the bases with two outs. But Lilley flied out to left field to end the threat.

The hard luck loser was Kyle Weiland. The freshman came into the game in the ninth and was brilliant. Weiland, who is the closer, pitched strong up until the 16th. He struck out seven, including three to end the inning. But the last frame was his undoing. After Graham Maiden singled to left field, Marmoi pitch ran for him. The next batter, Lasater, made Weiland pay dearly when he doubled down the left field line to score Marmoi for the winning run and send College of Charleston to the victory. The Cougars play the winner of Ball State-Kentucky tomorrow night at 7 p.m. Top Stories