Notre Dame has relied on pitching and defense in the early portion of the season, but lack of offense caught up with the Irish on Thursday in San Antonio.
The Irish wasted a solid outing from sophomore Cole Johnson, who allowed just two earned runs over seven innings, as Illinois State grabbed a 3-2 victory on an infield single in the ninth inning in the opening game of the 2009 Irish Baseball Classic.
Notre Dame falls to 7-5 on the season while the Redbirds jump to 6-5.
The Irish failed to score in the eighth despite having a runner on second and one out and the bases loaded with two outs and Illinois State took advantage. Corey Maines doubled to start the ninth and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt before Eric Mahler beat out an infield single with two outs to put Illinois State on top.
Notre Dame went down in order in the bottom of the ninth as Illinois State closer Jim Sajewich earned the victory with two shutout innings of relief. Illinois State starter Ryan Copeland allowed just a pair of earned runs on four hits over seven innings and did not factor in the decision after three straight complete games.
Reliever Todd Miller was tagged with the loss for the Irish.
Notre Dame did not have anyone record more than one hit and is now hitting just .202 in the last six games and just .136 with runners in scoring position over the same stretch.
After Illinois State took a 1-0 lead in the second, the Irish came back with two of their own in the bottom of the second. Cameron McConnell chased home Jeremy Barnes and Mick Doyle with a two-run single to put Notre Dame up 2-1.
The Redbirds were able to tie the game in the sixth with the help of a pair of bloop singles.
The Irish Classic continues on Friday when Notre Dame takes on Texas-Pan American at 4 p.m. EDT.