Notre Dame scored seven runs in the sixth inning to put the finishing touches on a 16-6 victory over Nebraska on Sunday in a game shortened to seven innings. The win moves the Irish to 3-6 on the season. They finish the Stetson Invitational in Deland, Florida 1-2. That's three straight weekends where Notre Dame has won one of three games. They'll play next, again in Florida, in the Clearwater Invitational at Jack Russell Stadium on Saturday against Sacred Heart. Notre Dame will then play a doubleheader on Sunday versus Duquesne and Harvard.
The Irish saw a little bit of everything this weekend. On Friday, Stetson rallied from four runs down for a late victory. They lost to Iowa on Saturday in a rain-shortened contest. Despite the failures in the first two games and facing another collapse, Notre Dame showed some grit and exploded for 10 runs in the final two innings.
"When Nebraska tied the game up, I gathered the team together," head coach Dave Schrage said. "I told them that it's 0-0 and we need to battle back. We showed growth today and the confidence is starting to improve."
Nebraska looked lost early. The Cornhuskers were beat by Iowa earlier in the morning after surrendering a huge lead. It carried over to the contest with Notre Dame as the Irish pounded out five runs on four hits in the first inning. The big knock was Matt Weglarz's two-run RBI double.
Nebraska recovered quickly, plating four runs in the third inning to tie it up at 5-all. The Cornhuskers did the damage off of Notre Dame starter David Phelps. The sophomore right-hander didn't have his best stuff as he walked four batters but earned the victory, pitching five innings and allowing five runs on six hits. Phelps (2-0) only surrendered one earned run as he was doomed in the third inning by three Irish errors.
"I'm pretty excited on how he pitched," Schrage said of Phelps. "We didn't make the plays behind him. But he battled through it and only allowed one earned run. He's getting more and more confident and I'm looking forward to a real big season from him."
The Irish took a 6-5 lead when Brett Lilley singled in the fourth inning to score Danny Dressman. Lilley was a tear at the plate today, going 4-for-5 with two runs scored. In the contest, Notre Dame pounded 15 hits off of Cornhusker pitching. A.J. Pollock, batting second, went 3-for-4 on the day and scored three runs. The top two hitters in the lineup combined for seven hits and five runs.
"We played one of our better games of the year on offense today," Schrage said. "We put pressure on them and executed. Lilley and Pollock sparked us at the top of the lineup. They got on base a lot and we seemed to drive them in. It's always a good sign when these two players can regularly get on base."
The Irish put the game away in the sixth. Ryan Connolly doubled down the left field line to score two runs to make it 8-5 Notre Dame. Connolly was 2-for-4 on the afternoon. Tony Langford made it 11-5 Irish when he singled up the middle to score Pollock and Connolly. Langford and Barnes both scored on a failed Nebraska pickoff attempt to increase to lead to 13-5. For good measure, the offense added three more runs in the seventh inning to complete the offensive onslaught. Barnes, Mike Dury and Ross Brezovsky all drove in runs in the frame.