March 16, 2002
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Steve Stanley launched a game-tying triple and scored on classmate Paul O’Toole’s hard-hit groundball single to the third baseman, as Notre Dame rallied at Wolff Stadium for two runs in the bottom of the eighth to beat Southern Illinois, 3-2, in Saturday’s championship game of the Irish Baseball Classic.
Notre Dame (9-6) – which has won 12 consecutive tournament games in San Antonio (at the IBC/Alamo Invitational), dating back to 1998 – jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third inning before Southern Illinois (11-4) claimed a 2-1 edge in the top of the fourth. A costly one-out throwing error by SIU shortstop P.J. Finnigan then opened the door in the eighth, with Joe Thaman bunting Javier Sanchez to third before Stanley ripped an 0-1 pitch off the wall in right-center field.
Two batters later, with runners on the corners, O’Toole drilled a 1-1 bouncer that was snared by the diving third baseman John Clem, whose throw across the diamond was too late as the Irish surged to the final 3-2 margin.
Peter Ogilvie (2-1) picked up the win in relief of fellow junior righthander J.P. Gagne, who allowed just two runs on eight hits and one walk over six innings, with four strikeouts. Ogilvie then faced 12 batters over the final three innings, with four hits allowed and a pair of Ks.
Notre Dame continued to play without starting middle infielders Steve Sollmann (2B, out indefinitely with a quad injury) and Matt Macri (SS, relegated to DH duty until late March), in addition to Macri’s backup in classmate Matt Edwards (out for the year with a broken leg). O’Toole, typically the starting catcher or third baseman, made his first career start for the Irish at second base (where he played as a prep). He became the sixth different Irish player to start at second base this season, including a different starter in all four games at the IBC.
Stanley – who has hit safely in 14 of 15 games this season – now has started all 203 games of his Notre Dame career (all in center field), just one shy of matching the Notre Dame record for consecutive starts, set by shortstop Pat Pesavento from 1986-89 (Stanley has missed just 14 total innings in his career and has played every inning in the last 52 games). Stanley also pushed his career hits total to 294, just one behind Eric Danapilis (’90-’93) and two shy of Pesavento’s ND record total.
Senior righthander Luke Nelson (1-1) suffered the hard-luck loss, after limiting the Irish to five hits and three walks in eight innings of work (just one of the three ND runs was earned).
Junior outfielder Brian Stavisky was named the tournament MVP, with Stanley, Thaman and freshman righthanders John Axford and Grant Johnson joining him on the all-tournament team. Stavisky made an unexpected early return from his shoulder injury and responded by hitting three booming home runs, a two-run triple and a pair of singles in the four-day tournament (he had 17 total bases in 12 at-bats).
NOTES: The ball from Stavisky’s monster home run (estimated at 450 feet) in Thursday’s win over Arkansas-Little Rock was retrieved by a Notre Dame fan, a few feet from the access road … the ball was presented to Stavisky, complete with the dent he left in the ball after drilling an 0-2 pitch over the right side of the 70-foot scoreboard … Stavisky’s nine-game averages now include a .429 batting average and a whopping 1.048 slugging percentage (22 total bases in 21 at-bats), with three home runs, two triples and four singles … Stanley’s season batting average stands at .431 while senior C/3B Andrew Bushey dipped to .410 … Gagne followed the freshman RHP trio Axford, Johnson and Chris Niesel for an impressive showing by the ND starting pitchers at the Irish Baseball Classic: 0.96 ERA in 28 innings (6 runs, 3 earned runs), 25 hits allowed, 20 Ks and just 2 walks … ND starting pitchers have combined for 80 Ks and just 14 walks in 15 games this season.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (11-4) 0-0-0 2-0-0 0-0-0 – 2 12 2
NOTRE DAME (9-6) 0-0-1 0-0-0 0-2-x – 3 5 1
Luke Nelson (L, 1-1) and Toby Barnett.
J.P. Gagne, Peter Ogilvie (7, W, 2-1) and Matt Bok.
Triple: Steve Stanley (ND).
Doubles: Jeff Stanek (SIU), Barnett (SIU).