April 3, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame hit four home runs in a span of five at-bats-including three straight-to spark an 11-7 comeback win in the opener before holding off Connecticut in another slugfest, 11-8, as the Irish swept a BIG EAST Conference doubleheader from the visiting Huskies in a long Saturday afternoon at Eck Stadium.
The doubleheader featured 49 combined hits (21 for extra bases), nine home runs (seven by the Irish), three triples (two by the Irish),11 doubles (10 by UConn), 95 total bases (50 by the Irish) and 5:25 of game time, in addition to a 39-minute rain delay early in the nightcap-which concluded at 6:44 p.m. after the day’s action had begun at 12:05.
Notre Dame (20-7, 9-1 BIG EAST)-winners in 16 of its last 17-has equaled the 1996 Irish squad (which also opened 20-7) as the quickest Notre Dame teams to 20 wins since the ’89 and ’90 teams both opened 20-6. In fact, the ’89, ’90, ’96 and ’99 squads have reached 20 wins quicker than any other Irish teams in the last 40 years. The Notre Dame record is held by the 1908 team (20-1), followed by 1907 (20-2), 1906 and 1959 (both 20-5) and four that opened 20-6 (’28, ’49, ’89, ’90).
Saturday’s heroes included senior DH Jeff Wagner, the Irish career home run leader who played for the first time in five weeks due to a foot injury. Wagner-whose season totals include 15 hits in 29 at-bats (.517), five home runs and two doubles-smacked his first pitch of the day over the fence in dead-center field before igniting the decisive seven-run fourth inning with a shot to left-center. He added a third home run in the nightcap-a booming left-field shot that cleared the football practice-field fence across the street-and finished the day with four hits in five at-bats, plus two walks.
Junior first baseman Jeff Felker and junior leftfielder Matt Nussbaum followed up Wagner’s second blast with home runs of their own before another junior, third baseman Jeff Perconte, left the yard two batters later.
NOTES: Wagner’s three HRs extended his Irish career-record total to 46-four ahead of junior All-America SS Brant Ust, who has 13 this season Wagner moved past former UConn great Jason Grabowski (21, ’95-’97) into second on the list for career HRs in BIG EAST regular-season games, with 23 in 62 games, three shy of the record held by former Seton Hall star Mo Vaughn (26 in 53, ’87-’89) … Wagner’s four RBI give him 76 in his BIG EAST regular-season career, pushing him past Grabowski (73) and Gary Scott (74, Villanova , ’87-’89) into third in the BIG EAST record book, seven behind the record of 83 shared by former SHU catcher Alex Andreopoulos (83, ’92-’95) and Vaughn the Irish remain atop the BIG EAST, followed by Rutgers and Pittsburgh (both 6-2), SHU (4-3), West Virginia (5-5) and Villanova (4-4) UConn (14-11, 1-5 BIG EAST) fell into a tie with idle Providence for last place, behind Boston College and Georgetown (both 2-6) and St. John’s (3-4) Saturday’s other games saw WVU sweep visiting SHU (6-5, 8-3) and surprising Pitt take two at home from Villanova (8-7, 15-11) … St. John’s shut out visiting Rutgers (10-0) before losing a close one to RU, 9-8 … Georgetown pulled out a 2-1 win at BC but the Eagles earned the split with a 10-3 win in the nightcap sophomore LHP Mike Naumann (2-0) won the opener in relief of junior RHP Scott Cavey, who was touched for seven runs (five earned) on eight hits, with four Ks Naumann’s shutout performance included three hits and one walk allowed over the final 3.2 innings senior RHP Alex Shilliday (2-2) collected his 23rd career win in the nightcap, moving into sole possession of eighth on the Irish career victories list Shilliday tossed the first four innings in a planned rotation, allowing two runs on seven hits while posting four Ks (for 225 in his career, 11 behind ’93 graduate Al Walania for fourth all-time at Notre Dame) junior RHP John Corbin registered his fifth save (3 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 2 Ks) … UConn’s Chris DeBrisco (1-3) lost the opener while fellow senior RHP Ted Gregorski (2-1) dropped the nightcap DeBrisco gave up four runs (three earned) on three hits and two walks while recording three outs, in relief of junior Scott Berney (who served up the four home runs) … Gregorski allowed seven runs (six earned) on seven hits and three walks all nine Irish starters collected at least one hit in the doubleheader, with eight registering multiple hits every Irish starter entered the RBI column, with seven driving in two-plus runs top Irish hitters included Wagner, Felker (5-for-7, 2 RBI, 5 runs), freshman CF Steve Stanley (3-for-7, 1 RBI, 3 runs) and freshman C Paul O’Toole (2-for-8, 4 RBI, 2 runs) all nine UConn starters had two-plus hits and eight had at least one RBI senior CF Glenn Katz 6-for-9 with three runs and three doubles.
GAME ONE: The Irish erased a 7-2 deficit with seven runs in the fourth Ust led off with a single up the middle before Wagner sent a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left-center … Felker then launched a 3-1 pitch to right for his third home run of the season … Nussbaum, mired in a 3-for-25 slump, completed the trifecta by sending a first-pitch shot to left for his own third home run of ’99 Ben Cooke ended the home run streak with an infield popup but Perconte then sent launched the first pitch over the rightfield fence for his first home run of the season and a one-run game the Irish headed back to the top of the order, with Stanley legging out a triple to right-center O’Toole plated Stanley with a groundball and reached safely on a two-base throwing error by third baseman John Robinson … O’Toole stole third and scored on Alec Porzel’s sacrifice fly for a 9-7 lead … Perconte’s bases-loaded walk and Stanley’s sac. fly capped the scoring in the sixth UConn claimed a 3-0 lead in the first, led by Robinson’s two-run double Wagner’s home run and Nussbaum’s sac. fly cut into the lead on the second the Huskies added a run in the third and three in the fourth, two coming unearned after a pair of Nussbaum errors.
GAME TWO: After the top-of-the-second rain delay, Notre Dame scored five times in the bottom of the inning, with Wagner smacking a 1-0 leadoff pitch, Cooke drilling an RBI single up the middle, O’Toole delivering a two-run single through the right side and Porzel hitting the team’s fourth sac. fly of the day the Irish added two runs in the third, on Cooke’s infield single and an outfield throwing error UConn battled back with two runs in the fourth, two in the fifth and one in the sixth the Irish stretched to a 10-5 cushion with three runs in the sixth, thanks to O’Toole’s RBI triple, Ust’s RBI single through the right side and Nussbaum’s RBI groundout UConn scored twice in the seventh and once in the ninth, with Felker’s solo shot in the eighth capping the Irish scoring.
CONNECTICUT 3-0-1 3-0-0 0 7 11 2NOTRE DAME 0-2-0 7-2-0 X 11 11 2
Berney, DeBrisco (4), Fanning (6) and Esposito.Cavey, Naumann (4) and O'Toole.
CONNECTICUT 0-0-0 2-2-1 2-0-1 8 14 5NOTRE DAME 0-5-2 0-0-3 0-1-X 11 13 1
Gregorski, Barton (4), Fanning (7) and Esposito.Shilliday, McKeown (5), Duff (6), Corbin (7) and O'Toole.