March 11, 2002
ROUND ROCK, Texas – Creighton opened the game with a four-run first inning and then held off another ninth-inning rally by Notre Dame, as the Blue Jays topped the Irish, 8-6, in Monday’s final-round action at the Express College Classic.
Notre Dame (5-6) – which brought the tying run to the plate after scoring twice in the ninth – standed 12 baserunners while hitting into three double plays. The Irish left 39 runners on base during their four games at Dell Diamond, while totaling 29 runs in the tournament.
Junior righthander J.P. Gagne (1-1) allowed just two earned runs in his six-inning stint but the Blue Jays also scored four unearned runs versus Gagne, who had six strikeouts while allowing five hits and three walks.
Senior centerfielder Steve Stanley led the Irish offense with a 4-for-5 day, boosting his season average to .471 while bringing his career hits total to 290 (just six shy of the Irish record). Stanley has hit safely in all 11 games this season, the fifth double-digit hitting streak of his career and third-longest (he had a 16-game hit streak in 2000 and a 12-game streak in ’99).
Freshman righthander Matt Buckingham (2-0) held the Irish to a pair of runs on five hits and three walks over five ininngs, with two strikeouts. Junior righthander Mike Perkins then notched his first save of the season, despite allowing four runs on nine hits and one walk over the final four innings.
The Blue Jays cashed in three hits and a pair of Notre Dame throwing errors for the big first inning. Joe Pietro opened the frame with a bunt single, followed by a wild pitch and Tony Roth’s full-count single through the left side. Roth then stole second with one out and Scott Allen delivered a two-run double down the leftfield line. Ryan Fitzgerald later drew a full-count walk and joined Roth in scoring on the Irish throwing errors.
Creighton (4-6) tacked on two more unearned runs in the second, with Joe Pietro’s double representing the only hit of the inning.
Notre Dame manufactured a run in the third, after Paul O’Toole’s walk, Andrew Bushey’s single, a stolen base and Kris Billmaier’s RBI groundout. The Irish added a similar run in the fourth, as Javier Sanchez was hit by a full-count pitch, followed by singles from Steve Sollmann and Stanley.
Notre Dame cut the lead to 6-4 in the seventh, thanks to Ken Meyer’s single, an RBI double from Bushey and Matt Macri’s two-out RBI single to center field.
Creighton added two key insurance runs in the eighth, versus junior Matt Laird. The Jays’ five hits included D.J. Klusaw’s 1-2 single that found its way through the right side of the infield (scoring Allen) and Gabe Lapito’s bases-loaded single that scored Klusaw.
Meyer’s leadoff single sparked the Irish rally in the ninth, followed by a wild pitch, flyout and groundout before Macri sent an RBI single up the middle. Sanchez then drilled a 1-0 pitch off the wall in left-center for a run-scoring double but Perkins rolled up the game-ending groundout.
Notre Dame 0-0-1 1-0-0 2-0-2 – 6 14 3
Creighton 4-2-0 0-0-0 0-2-X – 8 11 3
J.P. Gagne (L, 1-1), Matt Buchmeier (8), Matt Laird (9) and Andrew Bushey.
Matt Buckingham (W, 2-0), Mike Perkins (6, S, 1) and Tim Gradoville.
Doubles: Andrew Bushey (ND), Javier Sanchez (ND), Joe Pietro (CU), Scott Allen (CU).