Notre Dame Reaches Semifinals Of Big East Baseball Championship With 5-3 Win Against Pittsburgh

Championship Central
 

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -  Notre Dame second baseman Frank DeSico went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI to lead the Fighting Irish into the semifinal round of the Big East Baseball Championship with a 5-3 win against Pittsburgh Thursday afternoon at Bright House Field.
 
The Irish (33-23), seeded No. 7 in the eight-team field, will enjoy an off day Friday as they advanced to Saturday's semifinal round. Pittsburgh (41-16), which suffered its first loss of the Big East Championship, will meet Seton Hall at 10 a.m. Friday in an elimination game.
 
Notre Dame starting pitcher Pat Connaughton picked up the win, improving to 4-2 after he allowed three runs - all unearned - on nine hits in six innings. Closer Dan Slania picked up his 13th save after working 1.2 innings of perfect relief. 
 
DeSico staked the Irish to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning with a base hit that scored Charlie Markson from second. DeSico also added a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning that gave the Irish a 4-0 advantage.
 
Pittsburgh answered with three runs in the top of the fifth inning as rightfielder Casey Roche smacked a two-run single to right, making it 4-2. Roche came home on Sam Parente's base hit to right to make it a one-run game.
 
The Irish added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth on Blaise Lezynski's base hit to center, which brought home Eric Jagielo to make it 5-3.
 
The Panthers left two men on base in the top of the sixth when Connaughton got Boo Vazquez to fly out to left and the Irish bullpen took over from there. Jonathan Danielczyk worked retired the four men he faced in order before yielding to Slania, who registered the final five outs.
 
Pittsburgh was led offensively by centerfielder Stephen Vranka, who was 2-for-5. The Panthers' only extra-base hit came from catcher Elvin Soto, who was 1-for-4 with a double. Pitcher Matt Wotherspoon took the loss after allowing five runs (two earned) and eight hits in 7.2 innings. Wotherspoon struck out seven and walked two in falling to 9-3.