April 7, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Chris Niesel and Brandon Viloria combined to hold St. John’s to one earned run while Matt Bok and Andrew Bushey supplied the clutch hits in the three-run bottom of the 7th, as the Notre Dame baseball team topped St. John’s 5-2, winning the three-game BIG EAST series in Sunday-afternoon action at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (17-11, 5-5 BIG EAST) posted its eighth win in the last nine games while moving within a game of third place in the BIG EAST standings (two games out of first). The Irish hit 7-for-14 with runners on base in the series finale, after going just 2-for-21 with runners aboard in Saturday’s tough 4-3 loss.
St. John’s (13-14, 5-5) – the only BIG EAST team ever to win more than one series from the Irish – failed to add its third series win vs. ND, despite claiming a 1-0 lead in the 4th and forging a 2-2 tie in the 7th. Senior righthander Charlie Bilezikjian (2-4) took the loss, after allowing nine hits and three walks that led to all five Irish runs.
The Irish have lost just six of 58 all-time BIG EAST series and still have yet to lose more than one BIG EAST series in the same season (ND also has lost just two of its last 33 BIG EAST series).
Niesel’s fifth no-decision of the season included two runs on seven hits and one walk, with four strikeouts and seven groundouts in his 104-pitch outing.
Niesel was in line for the win before Chad Cambra doubled down the rightfield line with one out in the 7th and Mike Rozema followed with a game-tying double over the head of rightfielder Matt Bok. But Viloria (2-1) came on to shut the door, rolling up a pair of groundouts en route to facing just nine batters over the final 2 2/3 innings – with his final six outs including three linedrives snared by the infield, two groundouts and a game-ending foul popup to first baseman Joe Thaman (with Bryan Hedgecock aboard after a single).
The pivotal bottom of the 7th saw Javier Sanchez pull a leadoff single down the leftfield line before Thaman reached on an attempted sacrifice bunt, with catcher Josh Young slipping on the moist infield as he tried to field the ball. Two batters later, Bok came through on a 1-1 pitch by driving a single through the right side, plating Sanchez for a 3-2 lead and chasing Bilezikjian from the mound.
Lefthander Todd Klemm failed to hold the one-run deficit, walking Paul O’Toole on five pitches before Bushey went the other way on an 0-1 pitch, drilling a one-out single into left field for a pair of insurance runs.
Notre Dame had claimed a 2-1 lead in the 5th, thanks to Thaman’s four-pitch walk, an errant pickoff throw (moving Thaman to third), Steve Stanley’s sharp single to right and Bok’s triple that rolled to the rightfield wall.
NOTES: Stanley’s 2-for-4 day raised his season average to .447 while pushing his career average to .375 (good for third in ND history) … he hit 6-for-10 in the series and .529 (9-for-17) in the six-game week … ND outhit its opponents .331-.175 in this week’s action, with other top hitters including the surging foursome of Kris Billmaier (9-for-20), Steve Sollmann (7-for-17, .412), O’Toole (7-for-19, .368) and Thaman (6-for-18) … ND’s pitching staff fashioned a 1.13 ERA during the week, including 1.80 in the SJU series (with 18 hits, 13 walks and 11 Ks in 25 innings) … Stanley has hits in 26 of 28 games this season (he was 0-for-2 in a quick stint vs. Valparaiso) and in 33 of his last 35 games with the Irish (he went 16-for-32 while closing the 2001 season on a seven-game hitting streak) … Stanley now ranks 3rd in BIG EAST history for career hits in BIG EAST play (128) and 4th in BIG EAST runs scored (87) … he is hitting .476 (20-for-42) in BIG EAST games this season, pushing his career BIG EAST average to .378 (good for 25th among players with 150-plus at-bats , 10th among those with 200-plus ABs, 7th among hitters with 250-plus and 4th among those with 300-plus) … O’Toole played in his 200th career game with the Irish (191 starts) … ND has won six of its last seven games vs. SJU … ND’s current 211-game scoring streak includes 93 consecutive home games without a shutout loss … the Irish have won their last 15 BIG EAST series at Eck Stadium (since losing 2-of-3 to SJU in 1998), with a record of 33-8 in that stretch of 15 home series … the BIG EAST standings now feature two teams at 7-3, three at 6-4 and three at 5-5 (plus 3-4, 3-7 and 2-11).
ST. JOHN’S 0-0-0 1-0-0 1-0-0 – 2 8 1
NOTRE DAME 0-0-0 0-2-0 3-0-X – 5 10 2
Charlie Bilezikjian (L, 2-4), Tom Klemm (7), Vinnie Mannese (7) and Josh Young.
Chris Niesel, Brandon Viloria (7, W, 2-1) and Paul O’Toole.
Triple: Matt Bok (ND).
Doubles: Chad Cambra (SJU), Mike Rozema (SJU).