March 27, 1999
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Sophomore righthander Aaron Heilman and junior lefty Tim Kalita turned in strong back-to-back performances for the second straight week and sophomore rightfielder Ben Cooke enjoyed the most productive day of his Irish career, as Notre Dame pushed its unbeaten streak to 10 games by sweeping a BIG EAST Conference doubleheader from Villanova, 4-0 and 10-8, at Richie Ashburn Park in Roosevelt Park (just blocks away from Veterans Stadium).
Notre Dame (14-6, 4-0 BIG EAST) received three RBI from Cooke in the opener before racing out to a 10-3 lead in the nightcap, highlighted by the 11th home run of the season from junior All-America shortstop Brant Ust. Villanova (9-12-1, 0-2) rallied for five unearned runs late in the second game but could not catch the surging Irish.
Heilman (4-1) racked up eight strikeouts in the seven-inning opener while giving up five hits, no walks and one hit batter in his 95-pitch outing. During the 10-game Irish winning streak, he is 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA, 28 strikeouts, just one walk and 14 hits allowed in 23 innings.
Kalita (3-1) again had a rocky start and a shaky finish but he was brilliant in between, allowing eight runs (only three of them earned) on nine hits and two walks over seven and two-thirds innings. For the third straight week, the dangerous lefty equaled his career high with 10 strikeouts (while allowing just six walks in those 23.2 combined innings).
Freshman righthander Drew Duff came on to post his second save of the season in the nightcap. Duff took the mound after Villanova had scored five unearned runs in the eighth and induced John Picone into an inning-ending groundout. He then gave up a one-out single in the ninth to Pat Kane before catching Mike Perate looking at strike three.
VU sophomore second baseman Matt Longo-who went 5-for-5 with two walks in his first seven plate appearances of the doubleheader-then came to the plate as the potential tying run. But Duff threw a ball on the first pitch before striking out Longo with three straight curveballs, with Longo flinging his batting helmet to the backstop after swinging in vain at the game’s final pitch.
Sophomore lefthander Aaron Krawiec (3-1) suffered the complete-game loss in the opener, allowing the four runs on seven hits and six walks while posting five Ks. Senior righthander Brian Buckingham (2-2) dropped the nightcap, allowing five earned runs on nine hits over the first three and two-thirds innings, with two Ks.
Notre Dame pushed across a run in the first inning of the day, when Steve Stanley reached on a slow roller to the right side, moved up on Cooke’s sacrifice bunt and stole third. Ust then sent a grounder up the middle but the second baseman Longo dropped the short toss from the shortstop Kane, negating an easy double play.
The Irish added two runs in the second, sparked by Jeff Felker’s dipping single that eluded the glove of Kane. Jeff Perconte and Stanley added one-out walks before Cooke sent a first-pitch, to-run single into right-center field.
Matt Strickroth laced a leadoff double to left-center in the fourth and Perconte walked before Cooke delivered another RBI, on a hit-and-run single through the spot vacated by Kane as he went to cover second base.
Stanley enjoyed a 4-for-6 effort in the second game while four players-Paul O’Toole, Ust, Strickroth and Perconte-each collected two hits. Seven different players accounted for the 10 Irish runs scored in the second game.
In the first inning of the nightcap, Ust followed up a two-out, two-strike single from Alec Porzel by sending a 3-1 pitch over the leftfield fence for the 40th home run of his career (just three shy of all-time Irish home run leader and injured senior Jeff Wagner).
But VU answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by Rob Cafiero’s two-run double and Dave Pizzini’s run-scoring shot down the leftfield line.
The Irish then seemingly took control, with one run in the third, three in the fourth and two each in the fifth and sixth. O’Toole’s single to the right side of the infield plated Perconte in the third while the big fourth inning included a RBI single up the middle by Stanley (versus sophomore lefthander Matt Therien) and O’Toole’s RBI double to left-center.
Strickroth’s fifth-inning single through the left side plated Ust before Matt Nussbaum scored on a wild pitch from Therien. The Irish stretched to a seven-run cushion in the sixth, when Nussbaum singled home O’Toole and Strickroth delivered a run-scoring single to left field versus freshman righthander Bob Grzenda.
Villanova cashed in a fielding error by Ust in the eighth, with sophomore DH Nick Piantek launching a three-run shot over the leftfield fence for his fourth home run of the season, ending Kalita’s day.
NOTES: Four different Irish players are hitting .400 during the 10-game winning streak: Stanley (16-for-40), Ust (14-for-35), injured freshman 3B Andrew Bushey (12-for-30) and Cooke (10-for-25) … the Irish team stats during the win streak include a .345 batting average, a 4.19 ERA and a .979 fielding percentage.
NOTRE DAME 1-2-0 1-0-0 0 4 7 0VILLANOVA 0-0-0 0-0-0 0 0 5 1Heilman and O'Toole. Krawiec and Glover.
NOTRE DAME 2-0-1 3-2-2 0-0-0 10 16 1VILLANOVA 3-0-0 0-0-0 0-5-0 8 10 2Kalita, Duff (8) and O'Toole. Buckingham, Therien (4), Grzenda (6) andGlover, Picone (8).