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May 25, 2012
Senior righthander Will Hudgins (5-3) limited Rutgers to just four hits over seven innings while the Notre Dame offense accounted for 14 hits overall and seven runs through the first five innings as the Irish (30-26) bounced back from a Big East tournament-opening loss with a 9-0 victory Thursday morning at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla.
The victory advances the Irish to Friday afternoon action against No. 3 seed Seton Hall, which lost to No. 2 seed St. John's Thursday. Rutgers (31-25) is eliminated from the Big East tournament after being out-scored 15-1 in two games.
Hudgins lowered his earned run average to 2.06 with his 10th outing of one run or less in his last 14. He easily out-dueled Rutgers left-hander Rob Smorol (8-4), who allowed seven runs (all earned) and 10 hits in just 4 2/3 innings. Previously against the Irish, Smorol had a 1.42 earned run average in 19 innings pitched.
Junior centerfielder Charlie Markson got Notre Dame rolling with a solo home run in the top of the first - his second of the year - setting the stage for an offensive explosion. Notre Dame would score two more in the third, four in the fifth, and single runs in the sixth and seventh.
Markson finished 4-of-5 from the No. 2 hole with four runs, two RBI and his 19th stolen base of the season. Sophomore first baseman Trey Mancini, junior catcher Joe Hudgins, freshman leftfielder Mac Hudgins (Will's younger brother) and senior shortstop Tommy Chase each had two hits for the Irish while Hudson and senior rightfielder Alex Robinson each had two RBI.
Excluding leadoff hitter Frank DeSico's uncharacteristic 0-for-6, the rest of the Irish hit .400 (14-of-35) for the day.
Sophomore righthander Sean Fitzgerald and senior lefthander Ryan Richter each threw a shutout inning for the Irish, combining for five strikeouts (three by Fitzgerald). Rutgers' Patrick Kivlehan, the Big East player of the year, was limited to just a harmless single by Irish pitchers.
No. 2 seed St. John's and No. 4 seed South Florida remained undefeated in Big East tournament play. The Red Storm claimed a 6-1 victory over No. 3 seed Seton Hall while the Bulls eliminated No. 8 seed Pittsburgh with a 12-5 victory.
Seton Hall (34-23) will face Notre Dame junior righthander Adam Norton (4-5, 4.45) Friday afternoon. The Pirates swept the Irish in a three-game series the first week of April, winning 5-4 and 3-2 in extra innings, and then claiming a 2-0 victory to complete the sweep in East Orange, N.J.
Norton has allowed 105 hits in 91 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting .297 against Norton, who has walked just seven while striking out 59.
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