Notre Dame- 10, USF- 1
Notre Dame put on a slugfest over the weekend at Red McEwen Field to hand USF its second consecutive Big East sweep and eighth loss in a row.
The Fighting Irish (22-8, 8-1) put up 17 hits against Bulls’ (14-19, 4-7) pitchers Sunday, six of which came during a five-run seventh inning in the 10-1 loss.
“Our pitching hasn’t done very well,” coach Eddie Cardieri said. “There are a lot of guys who are capable. They’ve gone out there and done well and had success, but the last few times out, they haven’t been themselves.”
Notre Dame, which is in first place in the Big East, outhit USF 49-25 during the three-game series. First baseman Craig Cooper and third baseman Brett Lilley accounted for 18 of the Fighting Irish’s hits.
“Those two guys make them go, and up and down the lineup they’re very solid; (they) do an outstanding job hitting and hitting with two strikes especially,” Cardieri said. “They’re playing well right now and we’re not.”
Sophomore starter Davis Bilardello allowed two runs in the first two innings but then pitched four consecutive scoreless innings. With Notre Dame leading 2-1 in the seventh inning, junior Nick Manganaro came in to relieve Bilardello.
“He was approaching 100 pitches, and this is a short week for us,” Cardieri said. “I think it was the right thing to do, with a guy coming up on 100 pitches.”
Manganaro gave up an RBI triple on his first pitch, and the next batter hit an RBI single. Manganaro didn’t make it through the inning, and sophomore Jim Cassidy allowed another run before USF was able to retire the side.
Cassidy and Chase Lirette gave up three more runs in the eighth inning off five hits.
“You bring guys in out of the bullpen (because) you expect them to do a good job,” Cardieri said. “We don’t plan on, ‘Well, if we bring this guy in we’re afraid; we’re scared to bring him in.’ We bring them in because it’s part of the plan.”
Bilardello was pleased with his performance but felt Cardieri’s decision to make a pitching change was the right one.
“I had a few tough innings early on, and I could tell I was getting tired,” Bilardello said. “I hit a guy in the sixth inning, then walked a guy in the seventh, so I wanted to let them go to the bullpen.”
The only run for the Bulls came in the fifth inning when sophomore Joey Angelberger hit a home run and ended Notre Dame’s streak of 25 games and 943 at-bats without giving up a home run.
“He hung a curve ball up in the zone, and I just tried to hit it to right field,” said Angelberger, who was the only USF batter to get two hits Sunday.
After six-straight conference losses, the Bulls are in seventh place in the Big East, but with 15 conference games remaining on the schedule, Cardieri still feels his team can make a postseason run.
“If we have to re-adjust our goals because, mathematically, we can’t win the league title – we can sure finish at the top still, there are enough games left for that,” Cardieri said. “We can still qualify for the (Big East) tournament. And if we win the tournament, we automatically go to the regional (tournament).”