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Baseball Splits Doubleheader with Rutgers

March 29, 1999

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Junior righthander Scott Cavey tossed a two-hitter in Notre Dame’s 10-1 opening win but Rutgers bounced back to take the nightcap, 17-1, as the Irish and Scarlet Knights split a BIG EAST Conference doubleheader Sunday at the Class of ’53 Complex. The loss in the nightcap stopped Notre Dame’s 11-game winning streak, which had included 10 wins on the road (the third-longest road winning streak in team history, two shy of the record).

Notre Dame (15-7, 5-1 BIG EAST) surged to a 9-1 lead in the seven-inning opener, thanks to a seven-run sixth inning. Junior All-America shortstop Brant Ust hit his 12th home run of that big inning, giving him 41 home runs in his career (just two shy of Irish all-time home run leader and injured senior Jeff Wagner).

Rutgers (10-11, 3-1) jumped out to a 13-1 lead after three innings in the nightcap while riding the strong pitching of sophomore righthander James Wilson (2-0), who notched seven strikeouts over the full nine innings while allowing five hits and no walks. Wilson faced just five batters over the minimum in his 87-pitch outing.

Cavey (2-1) needed just 74 pitches in the best outing of his Irish career. The lanky righthander faced one batter over the minimum (22) while allowing two hits and no walks (with two Ks and 10 groundouts). A solo shot in the third inning from Mike Popowski ended Cavey’s bid for a no-hitter and a shutout. Pete Zocolillo added a single later in the game but Cavey induced Jake Daubert into a double play groundball. Sophomore righthander Jeff Pierce (1-3) took the loss, after allowing five runs on eight hits over the first five and one-third innings.

Irish senior righthander Alex Shilliday (1-2) made his first start in a month but walked the first four batters in the nightcap. Shilliday, who also gave up two hits and uncorked two wild pitches, was credited for five runs and recorded two outs before giving way to sophomore lefthander Mike Naumann (the first of six Irish relievers). Senior lefthander Chris McKeown threw the third, fourth and fifth innings, allowing eight runs on 11 hits.

Each of the nine Irish starters scored in the first game while four playersUst, Steve Stanley, Alec Porzel and Jeff Perconteeach drove in two runs.

Notre Dame score in the first inning of the day, with Porzel stroking a two-out, 0-2 pitch through the left side of the infield and stealing second base before scoring on Ust’s single to left-center. The Irish added a run in the second, sparked by Ben Cooke’s two-out, first-pitch single to center field that was misplayed by Brian Ciemniecki. Perconte then delivered a full-count double down the leftfield line.

Ust opened the seven-run sixth with his fifth home run in as many games, driving the first pitch from Pierce over the fence in the opposite, right-center field. Jeff Felker then hit a one-out double to center and Matt Strickroth singled to left, ending Pierce’s day.

Perconte kept the rally going with a two-out walk versus junior Barry Walsh and the Irish went on to score six times with two outs. Sophomore lefthander Shawn Gallagher came on to face the lefthanded-hitting Stanley, who sent a 1-2 pitch towards second baseman Matthew Wolski. But the ball took a tough hop and ricocheted off Wolski’s shoulder, allowing two runs to score. Perconte and Stanley then moved up on a wild pitch before a high throw from shortstop Darren Fenster allowed Paul O’Toole to reach base, with two more runs coming home on the play.

Porzel capped the big inning by smacking a first-pitch, opposite-field shot over the right-center field fence for his second home run of the season (Ust has 12 while the rest of the team now has 10). Perconte plated the final Irish run in the seventh, when his single brought home Matt Nussbaum.

Rutgers was led in the nightcap by David DeJesus (3-for-5, 5 RBI, HR) and Todd Speedy (4-for-5, 2 RBI, HR). Mike O’Brien also homered for the Knights in the second game explosion.

NOTRE DAME        1-1-0    0-0-7    1       10   12    0RUTGERS           0-0-1    0-0-0    0        1    2    2

Cavey and O’Toole. Pierce, Walsh (6), Gallagher (6), Crohan (7) and Popowski.

NOTRE DAME        0-0-0    1-0-     0-0-0         1     5    1RUTGERS           5-0-4    4-0-2    2-0-X        17    17    0

Shilliday, Naumann (1), McKeown (3), Arnold (6) Lapinskas (6), Carlin (7), Corbin (8) and Drevline. Wilson and Ulrich, Popowski (8).