March 6, 1999
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The Penn State baseball team emerged with a 6-5 victory Saturday night over Notre Dame, in the Irish’s first game of their spring break trip.
The game-played at V.J. Keefe Field on the campus of St. Mary’s University-featured several lead changes and another impressive showing by Irish junior All-America shortstop Brant Ust, who went 4-for-4 with a pair of home runs.
Penn State righthander Dan Goebeler (2-1) posted the win after allowing three runs on six hits and no walks over the first six innings, with four strikeouts. Irish junior righthander John Corbin (1-1) took the loss in relief of junior lefty Tim Kalita. Corbin allowed four runs on four hits and four walks over the final four innings (with four Ks).
Kalita tossed an impressive eight strikeouts while giving up just two runs on three hits and four walks over the first five innings.
The Irish played without senior All-America candidate and Irish career home run leader Jeff Wagner, who is out indefinitely due to a broken bone in his foot. Ust moved back in the batting order to Wagner’s cleanup spot while freshman third baseman Andrew Bushey was moved up from the fifth to third spot.
PSU opened the scoring with two runs in the first inning, sparked by Chris Wright’s leadoff walk. Eric Spadt then lifted a popup into shallow right field that was misplayed by Irish sophomore second baseman Alec Porzel, but junior rightfielder Jeff Perconte alertly threw to second base to force out Wright and negate the error. But Shawn Fagan came through with a triple to the gap in right-center, Dan Beers was hit by a pitch and Donnie Wright plated Fagan with a single to right-center (Ust’s perfect relay throw nailed Beers at the plate).
Perconte scored the first Irish run in the fifth, on Porzel’s two-out triple to right-center. The Irish then surged ahead in the sixth, when Bushey doubled and Ust followed with his fourth home run of the young season, to left field.
The Nittany Lions responded with a crucial three-run effort in the top of the seventh. Spadt hit a leadoff double and took third on Fagan’s groundout before Beers walked. A wild pitch from Corbin allowed Fagan to score the tying run while Beers moved to second. Donnie Wright’s double then plated Beers, with Wright advancing to third on the throw to home before scoring on a suicide squeeze bunt by catcher Chris Netwall.
PSU added to its lead in the eighth, with Michael Campo drawing a two-out walk and stealing two bases before scoring on a single by Spadt.
Ust cut the lead to 6-4 with his 34th career home run, over the wall in left-center, and the Irish then threatened in the ninth (when Fagan took the mound). Freshman DH Matt Strickroth got things going with a leadoff double (his first hit with the Irish). Junior Matt Nussbaum moved the runner over with a pinch-hit groundout and Strickroth then scored on Perconte’s groundout to first base. Porzel drew a two-out walk but Fagan forced freshman centerfielder Steve Stanley into a game-ending popup to the shortstop.
The Irish and Lions will meet again on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. central, followed by a 7:00 p.m. game between Notre Dame and Yale (the second game will be aired live on WHME radio 103.1 FM and via the Notre Dame website).
Ust’s pair of home runs moved him past Joe Binkiewicz (33, 1989-92) and into a tie with Ryan Topham (1993-95) for fourth on the Irish career home run list, trailing only Wagner (43), Frank Jacobs (37, 1989-91) and Mike Amrhein (37, 1994-97).
PENN STATE 0-0-2 0-0-0 3-1-0 6 7 1
NOTRE DAME 0-0-0 0-1-2 0-1-1 5 8 1
Goebeler (W, 2-1), McIntyre (7), Wager (8) Fagan (9, S-2) and Netwall. Kalita, Corbin (6; L, 1-1) and OToole.