Cubs work walk off magic for first series win

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Cubs work walk off magic for first series win

Alfonso Soriano hit a game-ending RBI single in the 10th inning and the Chicago Cubs beat St. Louis 3-2 on Wednesday night, ending the Cardinals' run of 13 consecutive winning series.Tony Campana sparked the winning rally with a one-out single off Fernando Salas (0-1). Campana then stole second in a close call that led to the first ejection for Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.After Starlin Castro struck out, Bryan LaHair was walked intentionally before Soriano hit a full-count pitch off second baseman Tyler Greene and into the outfield. Campana scored easily to give the Cubs their second consecutive dramatic victory against the CardinalsJames Russell (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning to get the win.Chicago led 1-0 before Matt Holliday hit a two-run homer off Carlos Marmol with two out in the eighth inning. LaHair then tied it with a leadoff drive off Marc Rzepczynski in the ninth.The Cubs also beat the Cardinals 3-2 on Monday night on Joe Mather's game-ending, two-run single. They will go for the three-game sweep Wednesday afternoon.St. Louis won its last seven series in the regular season last year, then stormed through the playoffs to the World Series title. It opened this season with six more series wins before running into the slumping Cubs, who had dropped seven of eight before the Cards came to town.It was St. Louis' first series loss since it dropped two of three against Cincinnati from Sept. 2-4. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 2002 Braves were the last team to put together a 13-series streak.

The Cardinals had just four hits before Holliday drove a 2-2 pitch over the wall in center for his fourth homer. Rafael Furcal set up the go-ahead drive with a one-out walk against Rafael Dolis, who retired Skip Schumaker before first-year manager Dale Sveum went to his closer with Holliday coming to the plate.Carlos Beltran then walked and move to third on Marmol's errant pickoff attempt before David Freese flied out to end the inning. The erratic closer was jeered by the Wrigley Field crowd of 38,894 as he made his way to the dugout.Chicago nearly wasted a terrific outing by Jeff Samardzija, who struck out nine in 6 2-3 innings. The right-hander yielded just four hits and two walks in his second start against Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals in 11 days.Samardzija pitched five shaky innings at St. Louis on April 13, but the Cubs roughed up Wainwright in a 9-5 victory.This one was much different.Wainwright allowed one run and six hits over six innings in his best start since he had elbow-ligament replacement surgery last February, sidelining him for the 2011 season. The 6-foot-7 right-hander struck out seven and walked one, but remained winless in four starts this year.Chicago grabbed the lead in the first. David DeJesus drove a leadoff double into the right-field corner and advanced on Tony Campana's sacrifice. Starlin Castro then lofted a fly ball to right, leading to a disputed call at home.Beltran settled under Castro's ball and made a strong throw to the first-base side, forcing Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina to dive across the plate with his glove. Molina was right there as DeJesus stuck his left arm out while sliding past home on the dugout side, drawing a safe call from umpire Chris Conroy.DeJesus clapped his hands and scurried back to the dugout as Molina popped up and began arguing with Conroy. Matheny popped out of the dugout and got between Molina and Conroy before continuing the argument with the umpire. Looking at the TV replays, it was unclear whether DeJesus ever touched home, but Matheny eventually left the field after a short argument.It was a busy night for Molina, who had two hits, made a rare throwing error and picked DeJesus off second after a leadoff double in the fifth.The Cubs had a chance to add to their lead in the fourth, putting runners on second and third with no outs. But Wainwright wiggled out of the jam, showing the moxie that made him one of baseball's best pitchers before the elbow injury.Ian Stewart and Darwin Barney struck out swinging, the latter on three pitches, before Wainwright issued an intentional walk to Geovany Soto. Samardzija then popped out to end the inning.NOTES
The Cubs outrighted RHP Rodrigo Lopez to Triple-A Iowa. Lopez was designated for assignment when RHP Michael Bowden was added to the 25-man roster on Monday. ... Bowden made his Cubs debut in the ninth and pitched a scoreless inning.
Box score Complete recapCopyright2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Notre Dame adjusts to schedule disruption of Sunday opener

Notre Dame adjusts to schedule disruption of Sunday opener

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It’s been 20 years since Notre Dame last played a non-Saturday regular season game, which was a 14-7 win at Vanderbilt on Thursday, Sept. 5, 1996. A good chunk of Notre Dame’s current roster wasn’t born yet when that game took place. 

So Sunday night’s season opener against Texas presents some logistical challenges for Notre Dame not only for this week, but in having next week’s Nevada preparation shortened by a day. 

Coach Brian Kelly, though, does have some experience opening a season on a day that isn’t the usual Saturday. Kelly’s Cincinnati Bearcats beat Rutgers on Labor Day in 2009, then had to get ready for a game five days later (which fortunately was against FCS side Southest Missouri State, resulting in a 70-3 Cincinnati win). 

Notre Dame gave its players Monday off this week and won’t leave for Austin until late Friday. Saturday will then have the team’s usual Friday activities, with a bonus that players won’t have to get up early to go to class before traveling — they’ll already be there, so they can sleep in and get more rest before playing on Sunday. 

“I like it,” Kelly said. “I think the guys enjoy getting a little extra rest, extra treatments. And so I think it comes at a good time for our team.”

Where the challenge lies is next week, when the team won’t get back to South Bend until the early hours of the morning Monday. Classes are in session at Notre Dame on Labor Day, and then practice, film study, meetings, etc. for Nevada still has to fit in the usual Tuesday-Friday window, though that will probably have to be tweaked a bit. 

“Generally where it affects you more is on that next week is where you really have to be careful,” Kelly said. “Because we'll get back in at 4 a.m. Monday and then we play Nevada that Saturday. So my concern is usually around the flip side of it, because you adjust your schedule a little bit.”

The growing problem with high school football scheduling

The growing problem with high school football scheduling

Last Friday afternoon Joliet Catholic loaded its team and coaches into "yellow rockets" and headed to Franklin, Wis., on Opening Night. Both Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way Central headed to Indiana to play games.

Hinsdale Central hosted American Fork. American Fork, located just south of Salt Lake City, traveled to Hinsdale play the Red Devils.

Play in a conference such as the DuPage Valley, which needs to find non-conference games outside of the first two weeks of the season? Then much like Waubonsie Valley (Week 7 @ Fishers (Hamilton Southeastern), Neuqua Valley (Week 5 at Indianapolis Bishop Chartard) or Naperville Central (Week 6 at national power Lakewood Ohio St. Edward) you too will be on the road out-of-state.

Finding a few non-conference games to play is becoming an adventure.

Scheduling continues to be a growing problem for many IHSA football programs. Between the pressures of getting into the state playoffs along with a conference system that also seems to be imploding by the week state-wide, something needs to get sorted out sooner than later.

How about some possible solutions?

Some have suggested expanding the IHSA state playoff field, thus making the need to schedule "five wins to get in" less of a focus for teams across the state. Yet ask any high school coach and a large majority of them have a real issue with an "everyone-gets-in" system. Letting everyone into the IHSA state football playoffs would ease scheduling but also eliminates what many coaches feel makes the IHSA football playoffs special, which is making a regular season schedule actually count.

Conferences? These days more and more conferences, many of which have decades of history and tradition, are breaking apart. From the North and Western suburbs, which have already seen new realignments to the soon-to-be powder keg located in the South and Southwestern suburbs, expect even more scrambling for teams to find games.

How about letting the IHSA take over scheduling? Again some have suggested that the IHSA handle state-wide scheduling and make football much like other IHSA sports, such as football conferences becoming more like regionals. Yet this plan would eliminate well established conferences such as the Chicago Catholic League and others who would want to maintain its history.

Yet one thing seem to becoming much clearer these days as more and more schools head to all points to play games: something needs to change when it comes to scheduling.

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Pirates on CSN

Preview: Cubs wrap up series with Pirates on CSN

The Cubs wrap up their three-game series with the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage from the North Side starts at 7 p.m., and be sure to stick around following the final out for reaction and analysis on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Jason Hammel (13-7, 3.21 ERA) vs. Ryan Vogelsong (3-3, 3.02 ERA)

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