Irish Split Doubleheader

Notre Dame was on a roll heading into a weekend series with Rutgers. After starting conference play 1-6, the Irish have battled back to a 6-8 mark in the Big East, good for seventh place. The Scarlet Knights were atop the conference standings going into Saturday's doubleheader. The two teams split the contests to set-up a crucial rubber match on Sunday.

The Irish's David Phelps won his third straight decision behind a 13-hit offensive attack as Notre Dame took the first game 15-3 over Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights got some revenge in the second contest as they shutout the Irish 7-0. Notre Dame moves to 23-19 on the year and 7-9 in conference action. That's still good for seventh in the Big East standings. The top eight teams receive invitations to the league tournament. Tomorrow, senior right-hander Dan Kapala (0-4, 2.33 ERA) will try to give the Irish their third straight Big East series win. Rutgers sends Casey Gaynor ((2-2, 4.76 ERA) to the hill. First pitch is scheduled for 12:00 PM.

In Notre Dame's 12-run win, offense was not a problem for the Irish. Both Brett Lilley and Ryan Connolly reached base five times. The big inning was the fourth when Notre Dame scored six runs to take a 9-0 lead. Connolly started the scoring spree with a RBI single and Lilley followed with a two-run double off of Matt Giannini (3-4). Matt Weglarz added a bases loaded two-run single later in the frame and Mike Dury concluded the big inning with another RBI single. It was Notre Dame's 13th time of scoring five runs or more in an inning.

Phelps (7-3) saw his ERA rise slightly to 1.64 after allowing three runs in seven innings of work. Rutgers scored all of their runs on round trippers, including Todd Frazer's two-run bomb in the seventh inning. It was Frazer's 15th home run of the season. But other than these hiccups, Phelps cruised by allowing zero walks while striking out seven.

The storyline was a little different in the second contest. Notre Dame could not carry over the hot bats in losing 7-0. The Scarlet Knights' Steve Healing (6-3) pitched a complete game, allowing seven hits while striking out just two. Kyle Weiland (4-1) lost his first game of 2007. The sophomore right-hander lasted 4.2 innings, surrendering four runs on five hits. Two of those runs were unearned on an error in the fifth inning when Rutgers turned a one run lead into a 4-0 advantage.

The Irish had scoring chances. In the second inning, two were on with one out but Healing retired the next two batters to escape the jam. In the third, Lilley was hit by a pitch and Pollock singled to put two on with no outs. After Ross Brezovsky sacrificed the runners up, Weglarz and Dury were unable to come through with RBI's. Jeremy Barnes was the only Notre Dame hitter with two hits.

***The Notre Dame Sports Information Department contributed to this report. Top Stories