March 10, 2003
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Sophomore righthander John Axford turned in five solid innings while seven Notre Dame batters contributed to an 11-hit attack as the 18th-ranked Irish posted a 7-3 victory over Navy in Monday’s Kennel Club Classic action at UNF’s Harmon Stadium.
Notre Dame (5-4) faced an early 3-0 deficit before tying the game in the bottom of the fourth, with the Irish adding single runs in the fifth and sixth plus two more runs in the eighth. Navy (0-6) stranded eight runners, with senior righthander Rich McDevitt suffering the loss in relief of junior righthander Andy Froistad.
Axford (2-0) – whose season ERA now stands at 2.50 – worked out of several jams while allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits. The 6-5 Ontario product continued to show strides in his ratio of strikeouts (7) to walks (1) while keeping the ball down in the zone for much of the game, with six groundball outs, one infield lineout and just one flyout.
Freshman lefthander Tom Thornton combined with senior righthanders Brandon Viloria and Matt Laird to log four shutout relief innings for the Irish. Thornton tossed a scoreless sixth (dropping his season ERA to 1.23) while Viloria pitched the eighth and ninth (he has retired all 14 batters he has faced this season).
Navy pushed across three runs in the third, thanks to an infield single, three stolen bases, a passed ball, a walk, a pair of RBI groundballs and Craig Candeto’s RBI double to left field.
The Irish quickly tied the game in the fourth, after Froistad hit leadoff batter Matt Edwards with a 1-1 pitch and senior rightfielder Kris Billmaier (1-0 pitch) and sophomore shortstop Matt Macri (full count) followed with RBI doubles to right-center. Macri moved up to third on a Steve Andres’ flyout before scoring on a 1-0 linedrive into short-center field by junior DH Javi Sanchez.
A fielding error by Navy shortstop Brad Hager opened the door in the fifth, with freshman leftfielder Craig Cooper then stealing second and moving to third on Steve Sollmann’s groundout before scoring on Edwards’ slow roller to the left side.
The Irish tacked on a run on the sixth, sparked by a one-out bunt single from Sanchez. Cooper delivered with two outs, sending a single up the middle to score Sanchez from second. Junior first baseman Joe Thaman capped the scoring in the eighth, driving an opposite-field double into the left-center gap to plate Billmaier (who went 3-for-3) and Andres (who had singled to right-center).
Navy 0-0-3 0-0-0 0-0-0 – 3 6 2
#18 Notre Dame 0-0-0 3-1-1 0-2-X – 7 11 0
Andy Froistad, Rich McDevitt (3; L, 0-2), Steven Goocey (4), Zach Poelma (8) and Will Mahan.
John Axford (W, 2-0), Tom Thornton (6), Brandon Viloria (7), Matt Laird (9) and Steve Andres.
Triple: Pete Curnow (Navy).
Doubles: Kris Billmaier (ND), Matt Macri (ND), Joe Thaman (ND), Matt Foster (Navy).