"We needed to this weekend if we were going to get back into the race," coach Dave Schrage said. His team defeated Georgetown 10-0 on Friday, but lost 6-1 on Saturday. "Obviously we were hoping to sweep but we'll take two out of three. I thought today was a pretty good effort. (Kyle) Weiland and (Eric) Maust did a nice job pitching out of tough situations, and then we were able to string the big inning together, and finally get some extra base hits, hit some doubles which we haven't been able to do all season."
The Irish are in 10th place in the conference, but are just percentage points away from owning one of those coveted top-eight positions and a seed in the Big East tournament. Villanova and Seton Hall are both 5-7, and Cincinnati and West Virginia are each 5-6.
The Irish offense was all over Georgetown (13-24, 3-10) starter and ace Jimmy Saris (2-5), at Frank Eck Stadium. The Hoyas' hurler came in with a 3.27 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 51 innings. The right-hander left too many pitches over the plate during his brief outing, surrendering 10 runs, eight earned on eight hits in 2.1 innings of work.
A seven-spot in the third inning put Notre Dame up 11-0 and on cruise control the rest of the day. Danny Dressman's single, one of his team-high three hits, knocked in Matt Weglarz who walked, and Mike Dury who doubled, starting the rally. Dressman scored on a Jeremy Barnes single. Brett Lilley later plated Barnes with a single and the rout was on. A.J. Pollock doubled down the left field line scoring Lilley, and he and Connolly who walked, later scored on Weglarz double, as the Irish batted around in the frame.
That gave Weiland, who was making his second start after opening the Irish season as the team's closer, all that he needed to pitch confidently. The sophomore right-hander went five innings allowing an unearned run, with six strike outs and three walks.
"The offense did a great job and it gave me a lot of confidence," Weiland said. "I didn't have my best stuff today, but I went out there with the confidence that we had 10 runs on the board. That's the best way to pitch." Weiland, who threw 87 pitches, was much sharper than his first outing, where he gave up four runs in three innings last week against Cincinnati. Schrage moved Weiland to the rotation as the Irish weren't giving the freshman All-American many opportunities to nail down games, and his arm is too good to be sitting on the bench.
"We've been building him up inside, and it's nice having him on a Sunday," Schrage said. Weiland was a standout starter during his prep career. "If we have to, we'll keep it."
Maust came in and pitched the final four innings for his first career save. The freshman scattered five hits, also surrendering an unearned run, fanning four.
Up 1-0 heading into the second, the Irish plated three runs. Dressman led off the inning with a single and scored on Barnes' double in the rightfield corner. He later scored from second on a passed ball that Georgetown catcher Matt Iannetta couldn't locate. Connolly walked on four pitches, moved to second on a Lilley single, and came all the way around when he was picked off but Saris's throw to third was terrible finding its way into the Irish dugout.
Lilley and Barnes each had two hits. Every other starter in the Irish lineup had at least one.
"Today was a must win, if we don't win today's game, you know, we have a long haul to comeback," Schrage said. "We just talked about winning a series today. We didn't have any real great words of wisdom, just hey now it's a must win, you've put yourself in that situation. It seems like almost we play better when we're in that, when our backs are against the wall. When we beat somebody and start to get on a roll a little bit, we seem to relax a little bit."
Schrage hopes that doesn't hold true as the Irish have now won three-of-four games and appear to be righting the ship. He'll find out Tuesday when Toledo comes to town. Purdue visits on Wednesday, before a pivotal three-game showdown with West Virginia at home during the Blue-Gold weekend.