March 15, 2001
FRESNO, Calif. – Just when the Notre Dame baseball team thought things couldn’t get any wackier at the Pepsi/Johnny Quik Classic, they did-as the eighth-ranked Irish played into extra innings for the third straight night before defeating Miami (Ohio) University, 3-2, on a botched infield popup in the bottom of the 11th inning.
With the game already past the tournament-imposed time limit (the final result would have been another tie if the Irish didn’t score), Notre Dame (11-2-1) loaded the bases in the 11th on Joe Thaman’s leadoff single up the middle and walks by Alec Porzel and Kris Billmaier before Miami inserted rightfielder Jason Knoedler as a fifth infielder, shaded to the right of the second-base bag.
Andrew Bushey then dug in versus righthanded starter Judd Richardson but popped up a 1-0 pitch into shallow center field. Knoedler drifted to the edge of the outfield and was ready to squeeze the first out but lost track of the ball, with Thaman then making a late break for the plate (Bushey was ruled out by the infield fly rule). Knoedler hesitated before sailing the throw high into the backstop, with the throwing error allowing the Irish to remain the only unbeaten squad in the eight-team tournament.
Notre Dame (3-0-1 in the Classic) has the inside track at playing in Saturday’s championship game, with another cross-divisional game versus Illinois scheduled for Friday at 4:00 p.m. PST. Illinois opened with a loss to Portland but has matched the Pilots with just one loss through four games. Fresno State also has one loss heading into Friday’s late game vs. Portland (also 3-1), with the ND-Illinois and FSU-Portland winners set to meet in Saturday’s championship game at 7:00 (the losers of those games will play in the 4:00 third-place game).
Notre Dame now is 8-0-1 in its last nine extra-inning games, dating back to a loss to Boston College in April of 1999.
Senior lefthander Mike Naumann (1-0) picked up the biggest win of his career, closing the game with five shutout innings while scattering four hits and striking out one Miami batter. Junior righthander Matt Buchmeier had a solid outing, allowing the two runs, seven hits and one walk over the first six innings (with six Ks).
Richardson’s marathon 140-pitch outing included 11 hits, five walks and three strikeouts.
The Irish forged the 2-2 tie with a run in the seventh, thanks to Bushey’s leadoff double, Ben Cooke’s pinch-hit sacrifice bunt and Steve Sollmann’s single up the middle with the infield playing in looking for a play at the plate.
Miami had claimed its 2-1 lead in the third, when Clark Mace launched a full-count pitch over the rightfield fence.
Both teams scored early, with Miami striking in the top of the first after Knoelder’s leadoff single through the left side, Brady Nori’s single down the rightfield line and Mace’s RBI groundball to the right side.
Notre Dame tied the game one inning later, sparked by Porzel’s leadoff single down the rightfield line and Billmaier’s swinging-bunt single to the left side. A passed ball and Bushey’s walk loaded the bases for Sollmann, who singled through the left side to plate the first Irish run.
MIAMI, OHIO (5-8) 1-0-1 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0 – 2 12 1
NOTRE DAME (11-2-1) 0-1-0 0-0-0 1-0-0 0-1 – 3 10 1
Judd Richardson and Justin Knoedler.
Matt Buchmeier, Mike Naumann (7) and Andrew Bushey, Paul O’Toole (7).
Home Run: Clark Mace, Miami (solo in 3rd)
Double: Andrew Bushey, ND