March 24, 2002
STORRS, Conn. – The Connecticut baseball team jumped out to an early for the third straight game before working out of several jams the rest of the way, as the Huskies completed a rare BIG EAST Conference series sweep of Notre Dame, 13-6, in Sunday afternoon action at Christian Field.
Notre Dame (9-9) stranded 16 baserunners in the loss and left 31 on base in the three-game series, compared to 17 runs scored. Connecticut (8-5) posted just a 14-13 edge in hits on Sunday but the Huskies again delivered the big hits, including a bases-clearing double by Mike Leonard in the four-run bottom of the second.
Three Notre Dame errors led to four unearned runs for UConn, with freshman righthander John Axford (1-2) touched for five runs on seven hits and three walks over five innings, with three strikeouts. Juniors Brandon Viloria, Peter Ogilvie, Ryan Kalita and Matt Laird then closed out the game on the mound.
Senior centerfielder Steve Stanley – who set the Notre Dame record for consecutive starts (205) in Saturday’s second game – saw another record spoiled in the Irish loss. Stanley’s 2-for-4 game pushed his career hits total to 298, besting the Irish record (296) set by 1989 graduate Pat Pesavento.
Senior second baseman Paul O’Toole cut UConn’s lead to 5-3 in the fifth, sending a two-run shot over the fences for his fourth home run of the season and 24th of his career (he also homered in Saturday’s second game). But the Huskies answered with four runs in the sixth and three in the seventh for a decisive 12-4 edge.
Notre Dame had been swept just once in 30 previous BIG EAST three-game series, with the previous 3-0 opponent sweep coming five seasons and 27 series ago (at Seton Hall, on the first weekend of the 1997 BIG EAST season). The Irish now have lost just six of 56 all-time BIG EAST series, with UConn’s series win representing the first by an ND opponent in a three-game series since the Irish dropped 2-of-3 at St. John’s to close the 1999 regular season (ND had won 14 straight three-game BIG EAST series prior to this weekend’s action).
Notre Dame 0-0-0 1-2-0 1-2-0 - 6 13 3Connecticut 0-4-1 0-0-4 3-1-X - 13 14 1Peter Soteropoulos, Nick Tucci (W, 1-1), Bob Barton (8) and Mike Leonard.John Axford (L, 1-2), Brandon Viloria (6), Peter Ogilvie (6), Ryan Kalita (7),Matt Laird (8) and Matt Bok.Home Run: Paul O'Toole, ND (1 on in 5th, 4th of season, 24th of career)Triples: Javier Sanchez (ND), Dan Trubia (UC), Mike Mocerino (UC)Doubles: Andrew Bushey (ND), Brett Burnham (UC), Trubia (UC), Leonard 3 (UC).