Louisville Sweeps Irish in Doubleheader

Notre Dame head coach Dave Schrage knew this was going to be a tough series this weekend on the road at Louisville. The Cardinals were 33-16 overall and 14-7 in the Big East, good for third in the conference. Louisville ranked first in the league in pitching, second in fielding and fourth in hitting. In a Saturday doubleheader, Schrage's concern was realized.

Despite 11 strikeouts from David Phelps, Notre Dame went down 3-1 to the Cardinals in the first contest as Zack Pitts battled the Irish ace pitch for pitch to earn the victory. In the second game, four runs in the third and fourth inning were just enough offense for Louisville to hang on for a 4-3 win over Notre Dame to capture the doubleheader sweep. The Irish fall to 27-23 overall and 10-12 in the Big East. It drops Notre Dame to sixth place in the conference standings. The top eight teams qualify for the league tournament. Tomorrow is the finale between these two teams. First pitch is scheduled for 1 PM.

The first contest had all the makings of a pitcher's duel going into the match-up. Phelps was the league-leader in ERA with Pitts not far behind him in second. The hype lived up to reality. Phelps was his dominant self, striking out 11 in 7.2 innings of work. It was the second straight game for the Notre Dame right-hander of double-digit strikeouts. In a 3-1 win over Seton Hall, Phelps whiffed 12 batters. On the year, the Irish ace now has 89 strikeouts.

Notre Dame actually took a 1-0 lead in the seventh. Matt Weglarz doubled to lead off the frame and advanced to third on a groundout by Danny Dressman. Weglarz scored on Jeremy Barnes' RBI groundout to give the Irish a slim advantage. Louisville came right back in the bottom of the inning off of Phelps. Derrick Alfonso's RBI double tied the game up at 1-all.

In the deciding eighth inning, Pitts (8-3) got Notre Dame out 1-2-3 in the top of the frame. Phelps was unable to match him. The Cardinals took a 3-1 lead when Chris Dominquez came through with a two-out, two-run RBI double. It chased Phelps (8-4) from the game. Pitts' line ended up eight innings of work, four hits allowed and five strikeouts. The Irish had the tying runs on base in the ninth with one out but Dressman grounded into a game-ending double play.

In the second contest, Notre Dame took a quick 1-0 first inning lead when Mike Dury came through with a RBI single. The Cardinals responded in the bottom of the third inning with two runs to take a 2-1 lead off of Irish starter Dan Kapala (0-5). Jorge Castillo's two-run double was the big hit in the frame.

Notre Dame tied the contest up at 2-2 in the fourth when Ryan Smith's double allowed Dressman to score from first base. Once again, Louisville (35-16, 16-7) answered in the bottom of the frame. Logan Johnson's single to right field scored two runs to give the Cardinals a 4-2 advantage. Johnson had a pair of hits in the second game. That was it for Kapala, who stays winless on the season. The senior right-hander lasted four innings, allowing four runs on six hits.

In the eighth, the Irish made it interesting. Dury's home run to right field cut the Louisville lead to 4-3. It was the senior first baseman's ninth round tripper of the season. In the ninth, Notre Dame had the tying run at second base but Brett Lilley grounded out to end the game. Trystan Magnuson saved both games for the Cardinals to earn his seventh and eight saves of the season.

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

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