February 27, 1999
NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Notre Dame baseball team scored 12 runs in the first three innings and went on to tie a team record with seven home runs before holding on for a 14-11 win over host team New Orleans, providing fifth-year Irish head coach Paul Mainieri with his 500th career victory in 16 years as a college head coach, during second-day action of the University of New Orleans Invitational at Privateer Park.
The home run heroics included a pair of blasts from both senior catcher Jeff Wagner and junior DH Matt Nussbaum, with freshman third baseman Jeff Felker, junior shortstop Brant Ust and junior rightfielder Jeff Felker also leaving the yard. Notre Dame (2-4) received a strong relief effort from winning pitcher John Corbin (1-0), as the junior righthander allowed just one run on four hits in three and two-thirds innings, with two strikeouts. Junior lefthander Tim Kalita suffered a rocky three and one-third innings, allowing 10 runs on 12 hits and two walks (with one K).
Sophomore righthander Aaron Heilman came on to record the 10th save of his young career, tying 1997 graduate Larry Mohs for third on the Irish all-time list while ranking just two saves shy of the team record shared by Mike Coffey (’88-’90) and Chris Michalak (’90-’93). Heilman faced just eight batters over the final two innings, allowing two hits while striking out two UNO batters.
UNO lefthander Brian Justine (1-2) took the loss, allowed eight runs on seven hits and two wild pitches. Justine allowed the first four batters to reach base in the second inning before being replaced by reliever Mack Lambert.
Notre Dame will face Southern Illinois on Sunday morning (10:00 a.m. central time) in its final game of the round-robin tournament, which features the return of three head coaches who were teammates during their playing days at New Orleans. UNO head coach Tom Schwaner was an assistant coach when Mainieri, Missouri head coach Tim Jamieson and SIU skipper Dan Callahan played together at UNO.
The Irish jumped ahead 4-0 in the top of the first, when sophomore second baseman Alec Porzel stroked a leadoff triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by freshman centerfielder Steve Stanley. After Wagner (right-center) and Bushey (center) hit back-to-back home runs, Nussbaum reached on an infielder error, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Felker’s double to center field.
Notre Dame built a 10-1 lead with six runs in the second inning, highlighted by Wagner’s two-run shot to left field and Nussbaum’s solo blast to left. Freshman catcher Paul O’Toole reached on an error to lead off the inning and moved to third on Porzel’s infield single. After O’Toole scored on a wild pitch, Stanley’s first career hit scored Porzel, with Stanley scooting to second on an error by the rightfielder and stealing third before scoring on Ust’s single to left.
UNO cut the lead to 10-5 in the bottom of the second, thanks to three straight doubles that were followed by a pair of singles.
Notre Dame increased its lead in the third, when O’Toole again reached on a leadoff error, stole second and took third on a wild pitch before scoring on another sacrifice fly by Stanley. Ust then smacked a towering home run to left field for a 12-5 lead.
The Privateers chipped into the lead again with a walk, RBI single and a two-run home run in the bottom of the third. Nussbaum, who smacked his first career home run earlier in the game, led off the fourth with a linedrive that cleared the leftfield fence. UNO then scored on a double, a single and a sacrifice fly, ending Kalita’s day. The Privateers added another RBI single before Corbin retired the final two batters to end the inning with the Irish clinging to a 13-10 lead.
Felker provided the final Irish run with a sixth-inning shot to center field and Todd Thompson matched him with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the sixth for the final run of the game.
NOTES: Wagner added to his Notre Dame career home run record total (43) while Ust hit his second home run of the season and the 31st of his career (sixth all-time at Notre Dame, two behind ’92 graduate Joe Binkiewicz) Wagner’s RBI double in Friday’s 13-1 loss to Missouri was the 48th double of his career (tying him with Binkiewicz for fifth in Irish history, two behind ’92 grad. Craig Counsell) Wagner’s four RBI during the tournament have pushed him past four players-current Irish assistant coach Cory Mee (164, ’89-’92), Ryan Topham (165, ’93-’95), Counsell (166) and Frank Jacobs (166, ’89-’91)-into sixth place on the Irish career RBI list the Irish also hit seven home runs in a 16-6 win at Boston College on April 5, 1998 Porzel, Ust and Wagner each homered in that game, as did Dan Leatherman (2), Allen Greene and J.J. Brock.
Notre Dame (2-4) 4-6-2 1-0-1 0-0-0 14 17 2New Orleans (3-5) 1-4-3 2-0-1 0-0-0 11 18 4
Tim Kalita, John Corbin (4), Aaron Heilman and Paul O’Toole. Brian Justine, Mack Lambert (2), Jason Armstrong (5), Rory Shanks (8), and Matt Matejcek.