On a day that saw Seton Hall retire Craig Biggio’s No. 44, sophomore Brian Gilbert stole the show.
In just his third start of the season Gilbert shutdown Notre Dame, going the distance in the 2-0 win to complete the series sweep over the Fighting Irish. The victory improve the Pirates to 16-14 overall and 5-4 in the Big East.
“This is awesome to pitch in front of a hall of famer like Craig Biggio with the huge ceremony and all the alumni,” Gilbert said. “It is special, something I will never forget.”
After a shaky first two innings which saw Gilbert get out of a bases loaded no out jam in the second inning, the next six innings only saw three Notre Dame batters reach base and included a stretch of 13 batters that Gilbert did not allow to reach base.
“He did tremendous,” head coach Rob Sheppard said of Gilbert’s performance. “He gutted it out, he had the bases loaded with no out and worked himself out of it. All weekend we had 3 quality starts, the guys did a great job.”
The ninth inning saw Notre Dame’s sophomore Trey Mancini reach base on a throwing error by freshman DJ Ruhlman. A fielder’s choice put Mancini on second and a walk to freshman Ryan Bull had the Fighting Irish with runners on first and second and one out.
A passed ball moved both runners up 90 feet to second and third before Gilbert struck out senior Alex Robinson for the second out.
With the tying run in scoring position, Gilbert’s pitch to freshman Alex Carter hit the glove of sophomore catcher Dillon Hamlin and rolled to the back stop. Mancini broke from third and Hamlin’s throw from the backstop to Gilbert beat the runner for the game’s final out.
“I saw him running down that line and knew I had to beat him,” Gilbert said. “I had to beat him. I told (Hamilin) the ball was behind him and he made a perfect throw.”
That play capped off Gilberts day with a line no runs allowed in 9.0 innings with four hits and six strikeouts.
Both the Pirates runs came from sophomore Zack Granite, with senior Will Walsh driving Granite in with an RBI single to center and junior Giuseppe Papaccio driving Granite in with an RBI single to right in the fifth inning. Both innings the Hall scored, Granite led it off with a single.
“This is huge,” Gilbert said. “We didn’t sweep a series until later in the season last year and every win counts. A sweep is a huge advantage.”
Seton Hall also honored former All-American and Houston Astro, Craig Biggo before the game with a ceremony to retire his No. 44. Biggio spent three seasons with the Pirates and holds the career record with 18 triples and ranks second in runs scored with 194.
“It is an honor for me and for my family to have my number retired at Seton Hall University,” Biggio said. “I have great memories of school and baseball. Those were good times in a winning program, being part of a ranked team with great coaches at a Catholic school with great priests and teachers. They truly prepared me for the later chapters in my life. I will always have a part of Seton Hall in my mind and heart.”
Biggio is the fourth baseball player to have his number retired along with Marteese Robinson’s No. 9, Rick Cerone’s No. 15, and Mike Sheppard’s No. 17.
The Pirates return to the diamond on Tuesday when they go on the road to face the Princeton Tigers.
Stephen Valenti can be reached at Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org