Every Pirate on the bench was wearing his rally cap in the top of the ninth inning, watching center fielder Zack Granite at bat with a full count, representing the lead run, with a runner on second.
As a breaking ball from pitcher Dan Salania reached the catcher’s glove, Granite headed toward first base as if he thought he drew a walk to continue the game, but the umpire called strike three to end the game and the Pirates hopes of defending their 2011 Big East Championship title.
The No. 7 seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who the Pirates swept earlier this season defeated the Pirates, 4-3.
Freshman Jose Lopez started the game for the Pirates and pitched well. He was charged with one run on four hits with three strikeouts.
However, the Fighting Irish took advantage of three Pirate errors to score four runs on six hits total for the game.
The Fighting Irish got to Lopez in the bottom of the second inning after right fielder Alex Robinson reached base on a sacrifice bunt because of a throwing error on Lopez. First baseman Trey Mancini scored on the error.
Left fielder Mac Hudgins took advantage of a 1-1 count and singled down the left field line to score catcher Joe Hudson to take a 2-0 lead.
The Pirates would answer with a run of their own in the next inning after a single to center field from second baseman Mike Genovese scored center fielder Zack Granite.
Neither team would score until Irish third baseman Eric Jagielo homered on a 1-0 count to centerfield to give Notre Dame a 3-1 lead.
The Pirates would answer in the next inning as shortstop Giuseppe Papaccio flied out to score right fielder Will Walsh to cut the lead to 3-2.
With Granite on third base in the top of the eighth inning, Hudson made a great block of what could have been a passed ball at home plate to keep Granite at third.
After Walsh walked, Papaccio came up with a big single, just out of the reach of the third baseman, driving home Granite for his second RBI of the day to make the score 3-2.
Pinch hitter Ryan Sullivan grounded into a fielder’s choice, which advanced Walsh over to third.
Left fielder Scott Kalamar would ground out to end the eighth inning Pirate rally.
The loss further damages the Pirates chance of being an at-large bid for the 64-team NCAA tournament, because of their losses to under .500 teams in their non-conference schedule.
T.J. Brennan can be reached at Thomas.firstname.lastname@example.org