Pirates Avoid the Sweep

In Saturday's 6-4 win over Seton Hall, the Notre Dame baseball team clinched their fourth straight Big East series win. One thing the Irish haven't done this season is sweep a conference foe. The opportunity presented itself on Sunday against the Pirates and Notre Dame sent Sam Elam to the mound. Unfortunately, the sophomore left-hander didn't last long on the hill.

Elam was unable to get out of the first-inning and Seton Hall's seven-run first inning was more than enough offense in a 15-1 victory over the Irish on Sunday at Frank Eck Stadium. The loss sends Notre Dame to 27-21 on the season and 10-10 in the league standings. It was the biggest margin of defeat for the Irish under head coach Dave Schrage and the 15 runs allowed are second most surrendered this season.

The top eight seeds qualify for the Big East Tournament, held this year in Brooklyn, NY. Currently, the Irish are in fifth place, 0.24 percentage points ahead of South Florida (10-11). Notre Dame has two conference series left. Next weekend, the Irish will travel to Louisville (32-14, 14-6) for a three-game set. Notre Dame will end the regular season at home against Connecticut (21-23, 6-12).

On Sunday, Seton Hall (20-22, 6-12) avoided the sweep by pounding out 15 hits. The Pirates took control early with a seven-run first inning to take a quick 7-0 lead. Elam (0-2) started for Notre Dame. The sophomore actually didn't allow a hit but wildness contributed to his short outing. Elam lasted just 0.2 innings, walking three while also hitting a batter. Brett Graffy relieved Elam after another walk but it didn't get much better for the Irish. Seton Hall's Robbie Hine greeted Graffy with a two-run RBI single to make it 3-0. After Mike Morano walked, Matt Smedberg cleared the bases with a triple to increase the lead to 6-0. Smedberg would score on a wild pitch to complete the first inning damage. Graffy's line for the day: 0.1 innings pitched, three runs, two hits, one walk and two wild pitches.

The Irish would plate their only run of the game in the bottom of the first. Brett Lilley led off the frame by drawing a walk. The junior shortstop went to second on a wild pitch and the onto third base on an errant pickoff throw from Seton Hall's Keith Cantwell. Ross Brezovsky's single scored Lilley to cut the deficit to 7-1. Lilley was one of the few offensive bright spots on Sunday. The junior went 3-for-4 with a run scored and was the only Notre Dame player with multiple hits.

Cantwell (2-1) got the win for the Pirates. The sophomore right-hander allowed one unearned run in 6.1 innings pitched. Cantwell did allow eight hits but thwarted the Irish from clawing any closer. In the fifth inning, A.J. Pollock's single loaded the bases with one out. But Brezovsky fouled out and Matt Weglarz whiffed to end the scoring threat. At that point, the score was 10-1 Seton Hall.

There was only one positive from the pitching staff on Sunday. Kyle Weiland, who was moved back into the bullpen to allow Elam to start, came on in relief in the fifth inning. The sophomore right-hander was solid in three innings of work. Weiland allowed zero runs on three hits while striking out two. Jess Stewart relieved Weiland in the eighth inning and promptly allowed the Pirates to score four more runs to make it 14-1.

Notre Dame will be going through final examinations this week. The Irish will be off until next weekend's series at Louisville, which starts with a doubleheader on Saturday and ends with the finale of the set on Sunday.

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

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