March 17, 2001
FRESNO, Calif. – The 600th career coaching victory of Notre Dame head baseball coach Paul Mainieri was extra special in a number of ways, as the eighth-ranked Irish-clad in ceremonial green jerseys for St. Patrick’s Day-won another tightly-contested game in dramatic fashion, 7-6 over the University of Portland, to claim the championship at the 23rd annual Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic.
Notre Dame (13-2-1) remains on pace with the best start by an Irish baseball team since the 1959 squad opened 14-2, with the current edition completing an undefeated Spring Break swing through Northern California (with seven wins and one tie).
Most of Saturday’s heroes at Beiden Field reprised memorable performances from earlier in the week, with junior centerfielder Steve Stanley and freshman second baseman Steve Sollmann each registering three hits for an Irish offense that rapped out 14 (half of them going for extra bases).
Senior righthander Danny Tamayo-who opened the six-day tournament with a three-hit shutout of New Mexico-turned in seven strong innings before seeing a slim 3-1 lead slip away in the top of the eighth. But the Irish matched Portland’s four-run output in the bottom of the inning and sophomore righthander Brandon Viloria (2-0) worked into and out of jams to pick up his second win of the week (he also beat host Fresno State with 2.1 solid relief innings).
Portland nearly rallied again in the ninth, sparked by Tyler Hanson’s leadoff double to left-center and a pinch-hit walk from Brad Stewart (who also started 0-2). Matt Allen then hit a leftside groundball and junior third baseman Andrew Bushey appeared ready to start the double play before booting the ball for his only error of the Spring Break trip (Hanson scored on the play for a 7-6 score).
The Pilots then executed a daring double steal before Viloria locked into a nine-pitch duel that saw Eric Hull foul off three two-strike pitches before looking at a 3-2 strike for the first out. Viloria then issued an intentional walk to No. 3 hitter Cory Lunde and Steve Chamberlain went down swinging on a 2-2 offering to set up the final at-bat.
Kory Casto worked to a 1-1 count before hitting a sharp groundball to the left side, with senior shortstop Alec Porzel-whose sparkling .987 season fielding percentage includes just one error in 77 fielding chances-ranging to his left and making the tough 6-3 putout to end the game.
Notre Dame had seized momentum in the bottom of the eighth, just as dramatically as the Pilots had taken it at the top of the inning. Bushey was hit with a one-out, 0-2 pitch from lefthanded reliever Justin Ballweber and junior DH Ken Meyer followed with an 0-1 single to left. Sollmann then delivered on a 1-2 count with a double to left-center, with Meyer hustling all the way around from first to tie the game (5-5).
Portland then made another pitching change and a player with an Irish last name fittingly provided the game’s biggest hit, with junior catcher Paul O’Toole ripping a first-pitch double to left-center that plated both runners.
Tamayo-who set down the first nine batters he faced, tied his career-high with 10 strikeouts and scattered six hits, five runs and one walk over seven and one-third innings-ran into some trouble in the eighth. With the Irish lead cut to 3-2, Lunde lined a single off Tamayo’s foot to load the bases. Tamayo shook off the pain but Chamberlain cleared the bases with a triple to the right-center gap, suddenly giving the Pilots a 5-3 lead.
The first home run of Sollmann’s young Irish career opened the scoring in the third, with Sollmann driving a 3-1 pitch from righthanded starter Kyle Corra to center field (the ball cleared the fence slightly to the right of the 400-feet sign).
Two more well-struck balls pushed Notre Dame’s lead to 3-1 in the fifth. Sollmann hit a leadoff single to left and moved up on Stanley’s bunt before Porzel smacked a two-out triple that reached the track in left-center. Sophomore rightfielder Brian Stavisky-who launched a linedrive grand slam in Wednesday’s win over Fresno State-nearly repeated the feat, with the quickly-moving blast kicking high off the rightfield wall for an RBI double.
NOTES: Stanley edged Sollmann for tournament MVP honors, with senior RHP Aaron Heilman also earning a spot on the all-tourney team … Stanley’s stats for the six tournament games included a .519 batting average from his leadoff spot (14-for-27), with four RBI, four runs, four doubles and two stolen bases … Sollmann batted .524 from the No. 9 hole (pushing his team-best season average to .439), with his other tournament stats including six RBI, six runs, a home run, two doubles and two walks (plus a game-saving linedrive catch vs. UNM) … Tamayo posted a 2.70 ERA and 1-0 record in his two outings (16.2 IP, 15 Ks, 3 BB, 9 hits, .145 opp. batting average) while Heilman’s seven-hit complete game vs. Illinois included three earned runs and five Ks … Bushey (.364, 8-for-22, RBI, 5 R, 3B, 3 2B, 2 BB) also had a strong showing at the plate and in the field … ND has won nearly 75 percent of its regular-season tournament games during the Mainieri era (54-18-1), including a 19-3-1 mark in the last 23 … Mainieri’s 19-year college coaching record (600-392-1) includes a 268-113-1 mark in seven seasons at Notre Dame (his 600th win comes just two years and 19 days after his 500th, a 14-1 win over New Orleans on Feb. 26, 1999), with just 137 gamess separating his 500th and 600th wins … the Irish skipper also is nearing his 1,000th career game (he has 993 heading into next week’s action).
Portland (10-11) 0-0-0 0-1-0 0-4-1 – 6 7 0
#8 Notre Dame (13-2-1) 0-0-1 0-2-0 0-4-X – 7 14 2
Kyle Corra, Justin Ballweber, Zach Yarbrough and Brock Griffin.
Danny Tamayo, Brandon Viloria (W, 2-0) and Paul O’Toole.
Home Runs: Steve Sollmann (ND, solo in 3rd, 1st of season), Matt Hollod (PORT).
Triples: Alec Porzel (ND), Steve Chamberlain (PORT).
Doubles: Steve Stanley (ND), Paul O’Toole (ND), Brian Stavisky (ND), Andrew Bushey (ND), Steve Sollmann (ND) and Travis Hanson 2 (PORT).