CLEARWATER, Fla. –
First baseman Mike Nemeth registered his second straight four-hit game, going 4-for-4 with a double and a triple to lead Connecticut to a 9-3 win against Notre Dame Friday night in the BIG EAST Baseball Championship at Bright House Field.
The win sends the Huskies (41-16-1) to the semifinal round of the tournament for the fourth time in the last five years. Connecticut has reached the championship game in each of its three semifinal appearances in that span, but will have to defeat Seton Hall twice Saturday to return to the final. The Huskies and Pirates will meet at 1 p.m. Saturday, with an additional game, if necessary, taking place at either 6:30 or 8 p.m. Notre Dame ends its season with a 23-29-1 record.
The Huskies never trailed as LJ Mazzilli put the second pitch of the game over the leftfield fence and Billy Ferriter delivered a two-run single in the top of the second to stake Connecticut to a 3-0 lead.
Notre Dame tied it with station-to-station baseball in the bottom of the fifth, putting two runners in scoring position on a leadoff walk by Greg Sherry, a base hit by Joe Hudson, and a sacrifice bunt by Mick Doyle. Frank DeSico’s base hit to center brought Sherry in from third to put the Irish on the board, and Eric Jagielo delivered a two-run single to right to bring in DeSico and Hudson, tying the game.
Connecticut regained the three-run cushion in the top of the sixth, however, as the Huskies opened the inning with three consecutive doubles. Nemeth, who is hitting .643 for the championship, led off with a two-bagger to right and Ryan Fuller and Nick Ahmed both went down the leftfield line for two bases. Ahmed scored on Tom Verdi’s base hit to left, giving Connecticut a 6-3 lead.
The Huskies added a run in the eighth on Billy Ferriter’s RBI single and tacked on two more in the ninth on Nemeth’s hard grounder to first that scored John Andreoli and a sacrifice fly by Doug Elliot that brought in George Springer.
Brian Ward picked up the win (5-1) after allowing three runs with six strikeouts in 5.2 innings. But Connecticut reliever David Fischer was the standout on the mound after he worked 3.1 innings of relief and was one walk away from a perfect outing as Notre Dame couldn’t muster a hit after the fifth inning. Fischer registered his second save of the season.
The top seven hitters in the Connecticut lineup all scored at least one run as Nemeth and Ferriter (2-for-4, 3 RBI) had multiple hits for the Huskies.
Jagielo went 2-for-3 with two RBI for the Irish, who used six pitchers on the day. Adam Norton (2-2) took the loss after allowing three runs and five hits with seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings.