February 28, 1999
NEW ORLEANS, La. – The University of Notre Dame baseball team exploded for seven runs in the third and fourth innings on its way to a 15-5 win Sunday afternoon over Southern Illinois, in final-day action of the University of New Orleans Invitational at Privateer Park.
Notre Dame (3-4) scored a pair of runs in the third inning to force a 2-2 tie before taking the lead for good with a five-run fourth. Senior lefthander Chris McKeown (1-0) pitched three scoreless innings in relief of junior righthander Scott Cavey to record the win. McKeown scattered three hits over the three innings while recording three strikeouts and no walks. Junior rightfielder Jeff Perconte paced the Irish offense with a 4-for-4 day at the plate, four runs scored and two RBI.
Southern Illinois (3-3) used three hits to score twice in the bottom of the first inning, but Cavey kept the Irish within two runs in the second inning, when he stranded runners at second and third.
SIU righthander Dave Piazza took the loss after yielding seven runs (four of them earned) on eight hits and two walks over the first four innings.
Notre Dame tied the game in the third inning, thanks to a double down the leftfield line by freshman catcher Paul O’Toole, Perconte’s RBI single to left and a run-scoring double to right by surging freshman centerfielder Steve Stanley (who racked up four RBI before the day was done).
SIU briefly regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the third, after a triple and RBI groundout, but Cavey then worked out of another jam by stranding two more Saluki runners.
Junior leftfielder Jeff Felker drove in Notre Dame’s first of five runs in the fourth inning, with a bases-loaded single through the left side of the infield that plated senior first baseman Jeff Wagner, who had walked, went to second on a fielding error and took third on an infield single by junior DH Matt Nussbaum.
O’Toole then drove home freshman third baseman Andrew Bushey with a sacrifice fly for a 4-3 lead, followed by RBI singles from Perconte, Stanley, and Wagner.
Perconte doubled with one out in the seventh and stole third on a ball-four pitch to sophomore second baseman Alec Porzel. Stanley then plated Perconte with a single and Porzel later scored on a wild pitch before Wagner singled home Stanley for a 10-3 Irish lead.
Notre Dame tacked on four more runs in the seventh, highlighted a Porzel triple that plated O’Toole and Perconte. Stanley followed with a sacrifice fly before junior shortstop Brant Ust sent an opposite-field shot over the rightfield fence for his third home run of the season.
A single run in the eighth upped the Irish advantage to 15-3, after Felker reached on an error, went to second on a single by freshman catcher J.P. Drevline and scored on a throwing error. Facing a potential end of the game by the 12-run rule, SIU came up with two runs in the bottom of the eighth versus freshman righthander Matt Buchmeier, cutting the lead to 15-5.
Irish sophomore All-America righthander Aaron Heilman threw just four pitches while shutting down the Salukis in order to close out the ninth.
NOTES: Ust’s home run was his second of the tournament and the 32nd of his career, leaving him one behind Joe Binkiewicz (1989-92) for fifth place on the Irish all-time list and two behind Ryan Topham (1993-95) Wagner’s pair of RBI give him seven for the season and 170 in his career, just four behind former teammate J.J. Brock (1994-98) for fifth on the Irish all-time list and six behind Binkiewicz after totaling just four runs during its four-game losing streak, the Irish have responded with 29 runs and 36 hits in the last two games (wins over UNO and SIU) Wagner hit 8-for-10 in the tournament, with six RBI and two home runs Stanley went 0-for-17 with one RBI and one run scored during the first five games before combining for five hits in eight at-bats vs. UNO and SIU, with seven RBI and two runs scored in those games top hitters through seven games: Wagner (.458, 7 RBI), O’Toole (.412, 3), Ust (.333, 5), Perconte (.333, 3), Nussbaum (.313, 2), Bushey (.280, 1), Felker (.238, 3), Porzel (.214, 4) and Stanley (.200, 8) the Irish hit .363 in the UNO Invitational, boosting the season average from .197 to .275 the Irish pitching staff again is off to a slow start in terms of team ERA (7.45), with 86 hits and 29 walks allowed in 58 innings, plus 37 strikeouts the Irish have made 16 errors in seven games, with a .944 team fielding pct.
NOTRE DAME 0-0-2 5-0-3 4-1-0 15 19 1SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 2-0-1 0-0-0 0-2-0 5 13 4
Scott Cavey, Chris McKeown (5, WP 1-0), Matt Buchmeier (8), Aaron Heilman (9) and Paul O’Toole and J.P. Drevline (7). David Piazza (LP 1-1), Adam Briggs (5), Dan Seman (6), Mike McMahon (7), Dave Condon (9) and Kyle Kohlberg, Ben Arbeiter (8).