Irish Season Over

A 12-2 loss to Rutgers on Tuesday in the first round of the Big East Tournament would make Notre Dame's dream of a sixth straight league post-season title a formidable one. The Irish would have to navigate their way through the losers' bracket all the way to the championship contest. On Wednesday, Villanova quickly made this thought disappear.

Jim Gillin's home run in the fourth inning proved to be the difference in the Wildcats 3-2 win over Notre Dame at KeySpan Ballpark in Brooklyn, NY. Villanova will play the winner of the Pittsburgh-Connecticut game on Thursday. For the Irish, it ends the season at 28-28 with zero chance at the NCAA Tournament.

David Phelps (8-5) took the loss for Notre Dame. The sophomore right-hander, working on four days rest, pitched his fifth complete game of the season. Phelps allowed five hits and two earned runs and struck out nine in the contest. The Irish ace's year total of K's ends up at 102. Villanova scored two in the first inning. Matt McFolling's RBI double made it 1-0. Derek Shunk reached on an error by Brett Lilley and Gillin made it 2-0 on a RBI groundout, making the run unearned.

Gillin added a leadoff home run in the fourth inning to give Villanova (29-24) a 3-0 advantage. Phelps did not allow much the rest of the contest. The sophomore right-hander surrendered just one hit over the final five innings of work. Phelps gave his team a chance at a comeback.

Notre Dame clawed closer in the bottom of the fourth. Jeremy Barnes' double scored two runs to cut the deficit to 3-2. It would be the only runs the Irish would score off of the Wildcats' Jordon Ellis (6-1), who lasted seven innings while allowing five hits and striking out six.

The Irish had some chances to tie up the game. Mike Dury notched a one-out double in the seventh to put the tying run on second base. But Ryan Smith and Brayden Ashdown could not come through with the clutch hit. In the eighth, Lilley and A.J. Pollock led off with walks and moved up on a sacrifice bunt. Villanova's Josh Eidell got Matt Weglarz to fly out to second base and Ross Brezovsky to ground out to end the last good scoring chance. Eidell earned his fourth save of the season by pitching two innings of scoreless relief.

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