April 1, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Freshman catcher Paul O’Toole and junior third baseman Jeff Perconte both delivered game-winning hits in Notre Dame’s last at-bat as the Irish came away with a sweep of visiting Providence, 5-4 and 6-5, in BIG EAST Conference action Thursday at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (18-7, 7-1 BIG EAST) has won 14 of its last 15 games, including three straight games in which the winning Irish run was scored in the final inning. The Irish maintained their cushion atop the BIG EAST standings, despite seeing Providence (24-9, 1-5) rally to tie each game in its own last at-bats. Notre Dame owns five one-run wins this season, plus four wins by two runs and three by three runs.
Sophomore righthander Aaron Heilman (5-1) tossed his fourth complete game of the season in the opener, highlighted by a dominating first six innings in which he allowed only one hit and two walks while tossing just 50 pitches. Heilman went on to suffer a 33-pitch seventh inning, with his final totals including four runs (three earned) on three hits and two walks, with four strikeouts and 11 groundouts (including a first-inning double play ball).
Eight of the Irish starters recorded at least one hit in the doubleheader, with seven connecting for multiple hits and six combining on the 10 RBI.
Freshman DH Ed Golom sparked the Irish in just his third start of the season, with his double igniting a three-run inning in the opener. He went on to collect three hits in the nightcap, culminated by a leadoff double and the game-winning run in the ninth.
Irish junior All-America shortstop Brant Ust collected four hits in the doubleheader, including a 3-for-4 effort in the nightcap. His first hit in the second game was the 200th of his career, coming on his 528th career at-bat and in his 143rd career game (he has started every game of his Irish career). Ust’s 4-for-8 day raised his career average in BIG EAST games to .435, ahead of the record of .432 set by Seton Hall’s Marteese Robinson from 1985-87.
John Burnham (4-2) dropped the opener, allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits and one walk over six-plus innings, with three Ks. Fellow senior righthander Rob Corraro (5-2) lost the nightcap, going the distance while allowing six runs (four earned) on 12 hits and no walks over eight and one-third innings, with two Ks.
Irish freshman righthander Drew Duff (2-0) tossed the final three innings of the nightcap, allowing one run on four hits with two Ks. Junior lefthander Tim Kalita – coming off three straight 10-strikeout outings – couldn’t get past the sixth inning, allowing four runs on six hits and five walks while posting six Ks in his 108-pitch outing.
PC scored four runs to tie the opener in the seventh but the Irish cashed in an error by second baseman Paul Costello, who let Perconte’s routine grounder scoot between his legs. Steve Stanley then dropped a first-pitch bunt to the left side and Burnham threw to third base, but Perconte was moving on the play and slid in to beat the throw. O’Toole worked to a 1-2 count before winning the game on a single to center field that cleared the drawn-in outfield.
In the nightcap, the Irish led 5-2 after five innings but PC scored twice in the sixth and tied the game in the ninth. Golom then sent a 1-1 pitch into the left-center gap and slid into second for the clutch leadoff double. Ben Cooke’s team-leading sixth sacrifice bunt of the season moved Golom to third and Perconte won the game by sending a 1-0 pitch through the left side of the infield.
The Irish jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning of the opener. Jeff Felker walked on four pitches before Golom drilled a first-pitch, one-out double through the left side. Cooke then jumped on the next pitch, slicing a two-run single to right-center, with Cooke moving to second on the throw. Perconte followed with another first-pitch hit, plating Cooke with a single to right-center.
Singles by Ust and Felker gave the Irish a 4-0 lead in the sixth but PC rallied for four runs in the seventh. Angelo Ciminiello drew a full-count, leadoff walk before Mike O’Keefe reached safely when Ust failed to catch a popup to shallow left-center field. Junior Keith Reed then doubled to left and freshman Neal McCarthy parked his ninth home run of the season to left-center, tying the game.
Costello was hit by the next pitch, advancing on a wild pitch and Jason Hairston’s sacrifice bunt, but Jamie Athas looked at strike three and Daniel Conway grounded out to Ust, stranding Costello at third.
Notre Dame opened a 2-0 lead in the first inning of the nightcap, after O’Toole singled down the rightfield line and Alec Porzel sent his third home run of the season to right-center field. The Friars tied the game in the third, after a walk by Mike Scott, a passed ball, two groundouts and Reed’s 10th home run of the season.
The Irish answered with a run in the bottom of the third, on Porzel’s sacrifice fly after Stanley had hit a leadoff double and stole third. Notre Dame stretched to a 5-2 lead in the fifth, thanks to a fielding error by the shortstop Athas, Porzel’s two-strike single, a run-scoring wild pitch and Ust’s two-out, two-strike single to right.
PC chipped away with two runs in the sixthon an RBI groundout from Conway and Hairston’s two-out, two-strike single – before tying the game in the ninth on Coley O’Donnell’s pinch-hit, full-count double to left center and Scott’s RBI single to center.
PROVIDENCE 0-0-0 0-0-0 4 4 3 2NOTRE DAME 0-3-0 0-0-1 1 5 9 1Heilman and O'Toole. Burnham and Conway.
PROVIDENCE 0-0-2 0-0-2 0-0-1 5 10 2NOTRE DAME 2-0-1 0-2-0 0-0-1 6 12 1Kalita, Duff (7) and O'Toole. Corraro and Conway.