March 14, 2003
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Six Notre Dame hitters collected multiple hits and freshman lefthander Tom Thornton logged four shutout innings in his first career start as the 18th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team picked up its fifth victory in six games at the Kennel Club Classic, besting Navy 11-2 in Friday-night action at Harmon Stadium.
Notre Dame (8-5) plated single runs in each of the first four innings before breaking the game open with four in the seventh and three in the eighth. Navy (2-9) was held off the scoreboard until scoring twice in the seventh.
Thornton (1-0) earned the win in a planned rotation, scattering three hits over the first four innings while dropping his season ERA to 0.87 in three outings and 11.1 innings. Sophomore righthander Tyler Jones then tossed three innings in his first appearance if the season, allowing two runs on five hits while registering five strikeouts. Freshman righthander Ryan Doherty closed the game with two shutout innings (2 H, 4 Ks).
Sophomore Matt Edwards – who made his first start at first base – hit 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored while senior rightfielder Kris Billmaier (3-for-5, 3 RBI, 2 R) did his own damage one spot later in the cleanup role. Four others – junior catcher Javi Sanchez (RBI, R), sophomore shortstop Matt Macri (2 R), freshman leftfielder Craig Cooper (2 RBI, R) and freshman DH Cody Rizzo (RBI) – each posted two hits for the balanced offensive attack.
The Irish opened the scoring in the first, after a Steve Sollmann single, stolen base and Edwards’s RBI double, before plating an unearned run in the second (via singles from Macri and Cooper and an outfielder fielding error). Brennan Grogan’s two-out single and stolen base led to another run in the third, with Edwards providing the RBI single. A Macri double and fielding error then produced a second unearned run and a 4-0 cushion in the fourth.
Five Irish hits chased home four runs in the seventh. The big inning included an Edwards double and Billmaier single, ending the day for righthander Rich McDevitt. Sanchez then executed a bunt single vs. righthanded reliever Zach Poelma, followed by Cooper’s two-run double down the rightfield line and Rizzo’s run-scoring double to left.
Notre Dame capped the scoring in the eighth, after Sollmann’s walk and stolen base, Grogan’s sacrifice bunt, Edwards getting hit with a pitch from lefthander Ryan Naquin, Billmaier’s two-run triple to right-center and a sacrifice fly from Sanchez.
The Irish pitching staff now owns an impressive 2.25 ERA during the first six games of the Spring trip, with sophomore righthander John Axford slated to start Sunday’s game vs. Creighton (at Jacksonville University’s Brest Field).
Sollmann’s pair of stolen bases give him 37 for his career, tying Craig Counsell (’92) and Randall Brooks (’97) for 10th in the Notre Dame record book.
Notre Dame 1-1-1 1-0-0 4-3-0 – 11 16 1
Navy 0-0-0 0-0-0 2-0-0 – 2 10 4
Tom Thornton (W, 1-0), Tyler Jones (5), Ryan Doherty (8) and Javi Sanchez, Steve Andres (8). Rich McDevitt, Zach Poelma (6), Ryan Naquin (7)and Doug Silverman, J-M Johnston.
Triple: Kris Billmaier (ND).
Doubles: Steve Sollmann (ND), Matt Edwards (ND), Matt Macri (ND), Craig Cooper (ND), Cody Rizzo (ND).