Mike Dury's three-run homer in the third, only the second hit of the inning, capped a five-run frame to help Notre Dame down Ball State 7-3 on Tuesday at Frank Eck Stadium. The Irish improved to 22-18 on the season and took advantage of 12 free passes on walks and hit by pitches by Cardinal pitching. It's Notre Dame's sixth straight non-Big East victory. Tomorrow, the Irish will go for seven in a row and 10 out of 12 overall when they host Valparaiso. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM. The Irish showed patience at the plate and got a pair of big RBI knocks to send Ball State home unhappy.
"It's difficult to hit and get into a rhythm when a guy is effectively wild," head coach Dave Schrage. "I don't know about effective but he was wild. All of a sudden, he walks two guys and you're up there and he throws a strike. You're not ready. It's also hard when you're facing a new guy every time up there. They mixed and matched pretty well tonight. Ross's (Brezovsky) hit was big tonight as was Mike Dury's."
Starter Jay Broughton (0-2) was the first Cardinal pitcher who had trouble locating the plate. The signs were obvious in the first inning when the sophomore right-hander hit leadoff batter Brett Lilley and walked the next hitter, A.J. Pollock, on four pitches. Although Broughton would escape the frame with no damage occurred, Notre Dame would make him pay for his wildness in the third.
After Ryan Smith fouled out to the catcher to start the frame, the Irish sat back and watched Broughton load the bases. Austin Pearce walked, Lilley was hit by another pitch and Pollock took a base on balls for the second time. Lilley was hit three times on Tuesday and now has 71 on his career. Ball State brought in Adam Quinn to the mound but it didn't matter. Ross Brezovsky lined the first pitch he saw to the right field wall for a two-run double to make it 2-0 Notre Dame. Brezovsky‘s knock would be one of only two extra base hits for the Irish on Tuesday.
"I knew he was going to come right at me early in the count," Brezovsky said. "The bases were loaded and he didn't have anywhere to put me. I looked first pitch and he gave me a fastball and I hit it pretty good."
After Quinn struck out Matt Weglarz, Dury stepped into the batter's box with two on and two outs. The senior delivered with a towering round tripper over the right field wall to increase the lead to 5-0. It was Dury's eighth homer of the season, which is tops on the Irish team.
"The guy who came in was tall, like 6'10"," Dury said. "I was trying to see something down in the zone because it was coming in from so high. I wanted it low. He threw one at my level and I got it pretty good."
A week after pitching nine shutout innings of one-hit ball in Notre Dame‘s 1-0 ten-inning win over Purdue, Sam Elam struggled with his control. The sophomore left-hander allowed only one run in 4.1 innings of work but had trouble locating his pitches. Elam walked four and hit another two. On the year, Elam has walked 21 hitters in 28.1 innings pitched.
The only jam Notre Dame got in was in the fifth. Elam hit a batter in the frame and walked four, the last one allowing Ball State (14-24) to plate a run to cut the deficit to 5-1. Schrage replaced Elam with Tony Langford. The junior right-hander got out of the jam with some power. Langford struck out the next two batters with the bases loaded to end Ball State's chances of creeping any closer. Langford (3-0) pitched 2.2 innings, allowing no runs on two hits while striking out four.
"I was really, really pleased with Tony Langford's performance tonight," Schrage said. "He came in and struck two guys out with the bases loaded when it was 5-1. He did a great job."
The Irish put the contest away in the bottom of the fifth. Dury walked to lead off the frame. Notre Dame finally got some good pitches to see and delivered. Danny Dressman's single sent Dury to third and he scored on Jeremy Barnes RBI single to left field. Dury finished the night 2-for-3 with three RBI's and two runs scored. Dressman scored to make it 7-1 Irish on Smith's RBI ground out.