Notre Dame ended its three-game losing streak Wednesday with a resounding 14-4 win over struggling Chicago State on a rainy evening at Frank Eck Stadium.
"We talked to the team about not getting down and not getting frustrated," Irish coach Dave Schrage said. "They were loose today, they didn't stress out - they knocked some runs in. We really needed this from an emotional standpoint."
The Irish evened their record at 12-12 with the non-conference win, while the Cougars dropped their second-straight game to fall to 1-24 on the season.
Notre Dame got on the board early and often, getting two runs in the bottom of the first on an RBI single from center fielder Danny Dressman. The Irish added to their lead in the second when shortstop Brett Lilley, second baseman Jeremy Barnes and right fielder Michael Wright all crossed the plate to put Notre Dame up 5-0.
The rout continued in the third, when left fielder Ross Brezovsky scored on a single by catcher Michael Smith. Smith reached home on a single by Lilley later in the inning, and Lilley scored on a single by third baseman A.J. Pollock. By the end of the inning, Notre Dame was up 8-0 and every Irish player had reached base.
The Cougars finally stopped the bleeding in the fourth. Side-arming right-hander Mike Storrs came in to pitch and walked two batters, but did not allow a run.
Storrs couldn't continue his success in the fifth, as Irish pinch hitter Eddie Mendiola drove in two with a single off Storrs to put Notre Dame up by 10.
Storrs' replacement, right-hander Edwin Loza, kept the Irish scoreless in the sixth, but allowed five hits and four runs in the seventh and had to be pulled.
All in all, the Cougars used five pitchers, who combined to allow 17 hits and walked 10 batters. Starter Robert Vargas went two innings, allowing five runs on four hits, while walking five and striking out just one.
Irish starter Eric Maust threw six shutout innings, scattering four hits and striking out five to improve his record to 2-0 on the season.
"He's really done the job for us," Schrage said of Maust. "He's really a strike thrower."
Chicago State threatened to score in the top of the sixth, but catcher Kyle Kupiac was thrown out trying to score from first on a double by second baseman Kyle Grow.
Maust's replacement, right-hander Andrew Schied, allowed the Cougars to get on the board in the top of the seventh with two runs, and Chicago State scored two more in the ninth off walk-on John Seabaugh to provide the final margin.
uNineteen players got at-bats for Notre Dame, with 15 of them reaching base and 12 getting hits. The Irish also used four pitchers, and graduate student Matt Weglarz was inserted as a defensive replacement in the ninth to become Notre Dame's 24th player to see action.
"There's a lot of guys that work hard that nobody ever sees," Schrage said. "It's good to get them out there a little."
uBrezovsky, a junior, started in left field for the first time since his freshman year.
uThe Irish stranded double-digit runners for the third game in a row, leaving 13 men on base.