Brayden Ashdown entered the game in the top of the eighth inning as a defensive replacement in right field, but after Notre Dame had its two-run lead erased in the top of the ninth, it was Ashdown's bat that made the difference.
With two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth, Ashdown's single scored Jeremy Barnes, who slid under Connecticut catcher Joe Pavone's tag, with the winning run as the Irish defeated UConn 5-4 in the final game of the Big East series at Frank Eck Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Notre Dame improves to 27-19 overall and 11-10 in the Big East while the Huskies fall to 27-21 overall and 10-11 in the conference.
Notre Dame starter Eric Maust scattered nine hits over eight innings and allowed just two runs. Maust has managed to throw more than seven innings in four of his last five starts and has accumulated a 4-0 record and 3.12 ERA over the span.
But the victory went to reliever Joe Spano, who got the last two outs in the top of the ninth after Will Hudgins could not hold the 4-2 lead.
Golden Tate led the Irish offense with four hits, a RBI and two runs scored while David Casey had a pair of hits and knocked in two. Tate finished the series 8-for-14 (.571) and scored five times.
UConn got on the board first when Peter Fatse led off the second with a double before scoring on Pavone's single.
The Irish tied the game in the fourth when David Mills scored on Mick Doyle's RBI double. Notre Dame scored twice in the fifth to take a 3-1 lead. A.J. Pollock, who doubled with one out, needed to jar the ball loose from Pavone at the plate to score on a Tate single. Tate came home on Casey's RBI double.
Tate led off the seventh with an infield single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Casey as the Irish stretched their lead to 4-1.
In the eighth, Maust worked around a leadoff single in his final inning of work before being relieved by Hudgins.
Hudgins walked the first batter that he faced before giving up a double to Pierre LePage putting runners at second and third with nobody out. The Huskies scored a run on a groundout before Spano entered and was greeted with Mike Nemeth's double to right-center that tied the game 4-4. But after an intentional walk, Spano induced an inning-ending double play.
Pollock and Tate were retired to start the bottom of the ninth, but Barnes singled and Casey was hit by a pitch before Ashdown ended it.
The Irish have final exams this week and do not return to action until next weekend when they host the league-leading South Florida Bulls. The weekend series will be the last one of the season for Notre Dame.