March 23, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior All-America shortstop Brant Ust smacked his ninth and 10th home run of the season as the Notre Dame baseball team extended its winning streak to eight games with a 12-8 victory Tuesday night over visiting Western Michigan at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (12-6)-which has won 11 of its last 13 games-opened up a 12-4 lead before seeing WMU (4-8) rally in the closing innings for an exciting finish.
Senior lefthander Chris McKeown (2-1) picked up the victory in a planned rotation, allowing no runs on two hits during the fifth and sixth innings while recording four strikeouts. Junior righthander John Corbin picked up the save, as the seventh Irish pitcher of the game. Corbin took the mound in the ninth with two outs and runners on second and third before inducing pinch hitter Tom Fabrizio into a game-ending groundout to first base.
Sophomore lefthander Angelo Palazeti (3-1) took the loss, allowing eight runs on eight hits and three walks over the first three innings, with five Ks.
Ust’s pair of home runs moved him into sole possession of second place on the Irish all-time home run list, with 39 (injured senior Jeff Wagner has 43). He is averaging 6.6 at-bats per home run this season while his career averages include one home run per every 3.5 games and every 13.0 at-bats.
Notre Dame’s four-run fifth inning included a leadoff single by junior Jeff Perconte (who started at third base in place of injured freshman Andrew Bushey) and an RBI double down the leftfield line by freshman catcher Paul O’Toole versus Andy Spencer, who then hit Alec Porzel with a pitch (after O’Toole had stolen third). Spencer was replaced by fellow junior righthander Matt Vriesenga, who saw the runners move up on a passed ball before Ust launched a two-run shot high over the leftfield fence.
The Irish opened the scoring in the second inning, after Palazeti hit two Irish batters with a pitch and unleashed a wild pitch on a third strike to Perconte. Freshman centerfielder Steve Stanley then delivered a two-run, opposite-field single through the left side of the infield.
WMU answered with two unearned runs in the third, versus senior righthander Alex Shilliday, with Frank Alfieri lifting a two-run home run to right-center field.
The Irish claimed a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the third, after Porzel’s leadoff single up the middle, Ust’s 2-1 shot over the leftfield fence, a walk by Matt Strickroth and singles by Ben Cooke and Perconte.
WMU plated two runs in the fourth, on Chris Richter’s two-run double down the leftfield line. But the Irish came back with three runs in the bottom of the inning, behind Ust’s RBI double to left field and RBI singles to right by junior DH Matt Nussbaum and junior first baseman Jeff Felker.
The visitors tacked on single runs in the seventh and eighth before plating two runs in the ninth versus freshman righthander Matt Buchmeier. Derek Lindsay provided a two-out, bases-loaded double to left field but Corbin threw a strike to Fabrizio before inducing the game-ending groundout.
WESTERN MICHIGAN 0-0-2 2-0-0 1-1-2 8 13 1NOTRE DAME 0-2-3 3-4-0 0-0-0 12 15 2
Palazeti, Spencer (4), Vriesenga (5), Naylor (7) and Richards. Cavey, Shilliday (3), Naumann (4), McKeown (5), Duff (7), Buchmeier (9), Corbin (9) and O’Toole, Drevlie (7).