Rutgers Blasts Notre Dame

Notre Dame had beat Rutgers two of three games this season in Piscataway, NJ. It was thought this would give the underdog Irish some confidence heading into Tuesday's first round Big East contest against the second-seeded Scarlet Knights. Rutgers forcefully showed Notre Dame why it tied with St. John's for the regular season conference championship.

The Scarlet Knights exploded for seven runs in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie and ran away with a 13-2 win over the Irish. The defeat was so bad for Notre Dame that a 10-run rule, instituted this year after seven innings of play, was put into effect after Rutgers scored four runs in the eighth to complete the rout. The Irish don't have long to sulk about this loss. Notre Dame will play on Wednesday at 10 AM against Villanova, who lost 3-1 to Louisville on a two-run ninth inning home run by Isaiah Howes. Rutgers will play the Cardinals tomorrow in the semifinals of the winners bracket. One more loss by the Irish will end their stranglehold on the league tournament, an event Notre Dame has won five straight times.

The deciding frame was the sixth inning. Irish starter Kyle Weiland (5-3) loaded the bases with nobody out by allowing two bunt singles and walking Jon Gossard. The sophomore right-hander came back and struck out the next two Rutgers' batters. But this is when the wheels fell off. Weiland surrendered a bases loaded, full count walk to give the Scarlet Knights a 3-2 advantage. The Notre Dame hurler didn't fare any better the next time around when he walked in another run to make it 4-2 Rutgers. Jess Stewart relieved Weiland and promptly allowed a two-run single to Mike Bionde to increase the lead to 6-2. Ryan Hill's RBI single made it 7-2 and ended Stewart's day without even recording an out. Tom Edwards' two-run single off of Eric Maust completed the damage and gave the Scarlet Knights a 9-2 advantage. Rutgers scored seven runs in the frame on six hits.

Weiland took the loss. The sophomore lasted 6.2 innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits. Weiland walked four and struck out three. Notre Dame ace David Phelps, who was named to the first-team all-Big East on Monday, did not get the start on Tuesday. The sophomore right-hander pitched on Friday in the Irish's 5-4 win over Connecticut that clinched the team's berth into the Big East Tournament. Phelps would have been working on just three days rest. Head coach Dave Schrage decided not to start Phelps last Thursday in the opener against the Huskies on four days rest, a game UCONN won. That would have given Phelps four days rest before Tuesday's conference tournament.

Rutgers didn't stop scoring runs after the sixth. The Scarlet Knights scored a run in the seventh to make it 10-2 heading into the eighth. That's when Rutgers put it away with three more runs in the bottom of the frame to force the 10-run into effect. The confused umpires actually allowed the contest to go on two batters longer than it should have gone. Maust pitched 1.2 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits. The first seven batters in the Scarlet Knights' lineup had multiple hit performances, led by Edwards' 4-for-5 afternoon with two RBI's and two runs scored. Rutgers had 19 hits in the contest.

Notre Dame actually took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Brett Lilley's double scored Brayden Ashdown to make it 1-0. It was 2-0 when Danny Dressman came through with a RBI single. Lilley was 3-for-4 on the day while Ross Brezovsky was 2-for-2 in the team's seven-hit attack. Steve Healing (9-3) earned the win for Rutgers, pitching eight innings

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