April 25, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior righthander Scott Cavey came off the bench to turn in his second impressive outing of the week while the Irish offense awakened for 18 hits, as Notre Dame crept closer to capturing the BIG EAST Conference title with a 17-8 victory Sunday over visiting Seton Hall at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (32-10, 16-3 BIG EAST) improved to 17-2 at home this season while increasing its lead atop the BIG EAST standings, thanks to second-place Rutgers’ 11-4 loss at home to fourth-place Providence. With six BIG EAST games remaining, Notre Dame has clinched a spot in the six-team BIG EAST Tournament and can finish no lower than fourth. The Irish “magic number” for claiming the regular-season title is four (vs. both 14-7 Rutgers and idle St. John’s, which is 10-6). Notre Dame is just two games shy of clinching a higher finish than PC (12-8).
Seton Hall (19-16-1, 9-10) dropped into a tie with West Virginia for seventh place in the BIG EAST, just a half game behind Villanova and Pittsburgh (both 10-10). The Pirates jumped out to a 5-0 lead before the Irish erupted for their 17th come-from-behind victory of the season, scoring three runs in the second, five in the third, three in the sixth, one in the seventh and five in the eighth. The Pirates were guilty of three errors that led to seven unearned runs.
Cavey (4-1) was strong in relief of junior lefthander Tim Kalita, who was touched for five runs on six hits and two walks over the first two innings (with five strikeouts). Cavey’s six-inning, 95-pitch outing included a career-high seven strikeouts and no walks, with one run and five hits allowed. He faced just 23 batters while rolling up eight groundouts.
In Tuesday’s 14-4 win over Michigan, Cavey picked up the win in a six-inning starting assignment, allowing two runs on seven hits and no walks, with four Ks, five groundouts and 24 batters faced in his 82-pitch outing. His combined stats for the week include a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings, 12 hits and three runs allowed, 11 Ks, no walks, a .255 opponent batting average, 13 groundouts and 47 batters faced (11 over the minimum).
Most impressively, Cavey has totaled 20 strikeouts and no walks over his last six appearances, spanning 26 innings. He now ranks third on the team with a 3.86 season ERA, while totaling a team-best 6.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio (33/5) over 44.1 innings (with 47 hits allowed).
SHU junior righthander Damon Ponce deLeon (3-1) took the loss, allowing eight runs (four earned) on six hits over the first two and one-third innings.
Every Notre Dame starter except leading hitter Brant Ust notched a hit, led by three with three-plus hits. Hot-hitting freshman centerfielder Steve Stanley extended his season-best hitting streak to 12 games, batting 4-for-6 with four RBI and a run scored. Junior first baseman Jeff Felker pushed his career-best hitting streak to 17 games, collecting two doubles and a triple in six at-bats, plus three runs scored. Junior leftfielder Matt Nussbaum boosted his season average to ..293, batting 3-for-4 while factoring in eight of the Irish runs (four scored, four driven in).
Stanley now is tied with Ust atop the team’s multiple-hit games list, with 15 (including four three-hit games and four four-hit games). His season batting average stands at .347 (after an 0-for-17 start), including a team-best .436 in BIG EAST play. Stanley also posted his second four-RBI game of the season.
Felker pushed his season average to .349, thanks to his ninth multiple-hit game of the season and fourth three-hit game. He is hitting .385 in BIG EAST action. Nussbaum collected his 10th multi-hit game of the season and third three-hit game. Sunday’s outburst represented Nussbaum’s first career game with more than two RBI.
Freshman DH Matt Strickroth had a hand in five Irish runs, batting 1-for-3 with two walks, three runs scored and two RBI. Freshman third baseman Andrew Bushey pushed his hitting streak to 11 games, batting 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored.
GAME NOTES: SHU opened the scoring on an RBI single from John Bravette and Ray Navarette’s RBI double to center S the Pirates stretched to a 5-0 lead in the second, on Alfie Critelli’s two-out, three-run shot over the leftfield fence (his fourth home run of the season) S Notre Dame’s three-run second included Nussbaum’s one-out single through the left side (scoring Jeff Wagner), an error on catcher Shawn Tarkington (allowing Felker to score) and Ben Cooke’s sac. fly S the five-run third was sparked by Alec Porzel’s leadoff home run to left-center (his seventh home run of the season), plus two hit batters, a dropped popup in shallow left by SS Tony Calabrese and Strickroth’s 2-2, two-run single to left (ending deLeon’s day) S Stanley then plated Strickroth and Nussbaum with a two-out, 2-2 single to center vs. senior lefty Mike Sturgeon S Brian McGee tripled and scored in the fourth for SHU S the Irish three-run sixth included Paul O’Toole’s two-out, 0-2 single to right, a fielding error by the 2B Bravette and Nussbaum’s first-pitch, two-run double to center field (chasing Sturgeon) S Strickroth then walked vs. senior RHP Matt Duignan and Cooke added an RBI double down the rightfield line S Bushey’s leadoff triple to left-center and Ust’s sac. fly added a run in the seventh S the five-run eighth included Nussbaum’s single up the middle (scoring Felker and chasing Duignan) and Stanley’s 0-2, two-run single up the middle vs. senior lefty Derek Hurley (plating Strickroth and Nussbaum) S Bushey then smacked a single up the middle (scoring Cooke and Stanley) S SHU’s Josh Vath’s capped the scoring with a two-run single through the right side in the ninth.
BIG EAST NOTES: Villanova (10-10) moved into fifth thanks to a 15-6 home win over ninth-place Connecticut (8-12), with Pitt (10-10) also laying claim to fifth after an 8-4 home win over 10th-place Boston College (5-12) S surging West Virginia (9-10) shut out last-place Georgetown (2-18) by a score of 10-0 in Morgantown.
SEASON NOTES: Notre Dame’s current .762 winning percentage ranks third-best by an Irish baseball team in the last 63 seasons (the 1990 team won 79.3 percent of its games, at 46-12, while the 1980 team went 29-8/.784) S since late in the 1996 season, Notre Dame is 51-13 (.797) in BIG EAST regular-season games (35-5 at home) S the Irish are 114-22 (.838) at Eck Stadium in the five-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri, with wins in 70 of the last 81 home games (.864) S Sunday’s game represented Mainieri’s 198th win at Notre Dame and his 894th overall game as a college head coach.
SETON HALL 2-3-0 1-0-0 0-0-2 8 13 3 NOTRE DAME 0-3-5 0-0-3 1-5-X 17 18 0
deLeon, Sturgeon (3), Duignan (6), Hurley (7) and Tarkington, Arslanian (5). Kalita, Cavey (3), Corbin (9) and Wagner, O’Toole (4).