April 2, 2000
STORRS, Conn. – Righthander J.P. Gagne turned in one of the top performances by a Notre Dame freshman pitcher in recent memory and junior shortstop Alec Porzel complete a strong showing in the weekend series, as visiting Notre Dame posted a 9-2 victory over Connecticut in BIG EAST Conference action Sunday afternoon at J.O. Christian Field.
Notre Dame (18-6, 4-2 BIG EAST)–which won Saturday’s first game before dropping the nightcap–has won 27 BIG EAST series since joining the BIG EAST in 1996, with just five series losses and five series ties (including 10 series wins and one series tie in the last 12).
The Irish pounded out 16 hits in Sunday’s win–equaling the team’s second-most hits in a game this season–led by a 4-for-5 day from Porzel and three hits each from sophomore DH Ken Meyer and junior leftfielder Matt Nussbaum.
Gagne (4-0) scattered seven hits over his seven innings and pitched out of several jams, allowing just one earned run and one walk (intentional) while posting one strikeout and 10 groundouts.
The Irish surged to a 4-1 lead with three runs in the fifth, sparked by Meyer’s one-out triple and Porzel’s two-out, full-count home run to deep right- center field (his third of the season). Senior first baseman Jeff Felker followed with his ninth double of the season and 47th of his career before scoring on Nussbaum’s single to right.
The Irish broke the game open with four runs in the ninth, with senior righthander John Corbin registering the final five outs for his fifth save of the season and 14th of his career (extending his Irish record). Corbin entered the game in relief of junior lefthander Mike Naumann, with the Irish holding a 5-2 lead with two outs and a runner on second base. But Corbin struck out Brian Packin on four pitches and the Irish put the game out of reach moments later.
Porzel–who extended his hitting streak to 10 games and leads the Irish with a .349 season batting average–collected multiple hits in all three games of the series, batting a collective 8-for-13 with 14 total bases.
Junior lefthander Ryan Fanning (1-2) took the loss, yielding four runs on eight hits and one walk in 4.2 innings. Freshman lefty Peter Soteropoulos closed the game for the Huskies, giving up the final five runs on eight hits and two walks.
The Irish–whose predominantly lefthanded-hitting lineup managed just three hits in Saturday’s loss, versus lefty Jesse Carlson–mixed things up on Sunday, with the righthanded-hitting Meyer inserted into the leadoff spot while making his second start of the season. The righthanded-hitting Nussbaum was bumped up to the No. 5 spot while freshman rightfielder Brian Stavisky (a lefty) shifted from the No. 2 to No. 5 spot.
The lineup shakeup yielded positive results, with the first five batters combining for 13 hits in 25 at-bats, plus eight runs scored and four RBI.
Gagne dropped his season ERA to 3.00, with 14 strikeouts and just four walks in 27 innings pitched. The Irish team ERA remains below three (2.91) while the team batting average improved to .294.
* ND scored the day’s first run in the second, with Nussbaum hitting a first-pitch leadoff single to right before the first baseman Rick Belmonte misplayed a groundball from Stavisky (with Nussbaum moving to third) … O’Toole then sent the next pitch into left-center field for a 1-0 lead.
* UConn tied the game in the third, after opening the inning with successive singles from John Kagerer, Mike Scott and Cy Hess.
* Meyer sparked the Irish in the fifth, after parking a one-out, 1-1 pitch into center field for his first career triple … Fanning then uncorked a wild pitch and Porzel delivered on a full count with two outs, drilling his 23rd career home run deep in the right-center alley … Felker followed with a first-pitch double to right-center and scored on Nussbaum’s 1-0 single to right.
* The Irish tacked on a run in the seventh, with sophomore CF Steve Stanley walking on four pitches and Porzel singling down the leftfield line … Felker’s groundout to Belonte moved the runners over and Soteropoulos issued Nussbaum an intentional walk before Stanley scored on Stavisky’s fielder’s choice groundball.
* Scott greeted Naumann in the eighth with an 0-2 single through the left side before scoring on Clark Caudill’s one-out double to right-center for a 5- 2 game.
* ND broke open the game in the ninth, thanks to four straight singles … Porzel hit a leadoff single to left and Felker sent the next pitch to right- center, with Porzel moving to third … Nussbaum then collected his third single of the day (all to right field) and Stavisky followed with a first-pitch RBI single to right … Soteropoulos hit the next batter (O’Toole) with a pitch and sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey plated Nussbaum with a flyout to left … senior 2B Jeff Perconte advanced the runners with a groundout and Meyer capped the big inning with a first-pitch single to left.
NOTRE DAME 0-1-0 0-3-0 1-0-4 - 9 16 0CONNECTICUT 0-0-1 0-0-0 0-1-0 - 2 9 2
Gagne, Naumann (8), Corbin (8) and O’Toole, Nussbaum (9). Fanning, Soteropoulos (5) and Esposito.