March 15, 2007
FORT MYERS, Fla. – David Phelps logged seven strong innings for his third win of the young season and Ross Brezovsky (4-for-4) tied his career-high hit total, as the Notre Dame baseball team posted its third straight win in Thursday’s 12-1 game with New York Tech. Notre Dame (7-8) had possibly its most efficient offensive game of the seasons – scoring 12 times with just four runners left on base – while continuing to build momentum with the BIG EAST opener just eight days away, as the Irish now have hit a combined .323 and scored 48 runs during the six Spring Break games. Notre Dame’s clutch hitting in Thursday’s game included batting 8-for-15 (.533) with runners in scoring position.
Notre Dame (7-8) once again broke open the game with a big inning, pushing across seven runs (all unearned) in the bottom of the 7th, thanks to a wide assortment of plays that included three singles, a double, a pair of early errors, a sac. bunt, a hit batter, a walk, two wild pitches and a balk. Despite a slow start to the season, the Irish offense now has totaled six “big innings” (five-plus runs) this season, putting the team on pace for more big innings than the previous season (15, in 2006) despite losing six of the nine position starters from that team.
Brezovsky – who pushed his team-best season batting average to .388 – posted his first four-hit game since 2005, with a single and run scored in the 2nd, an RBI triple in the 3rd, another single in the 6th and then a two-run single//run scored in the 7th. The junior – who made a rare start at DH – narrowly missed his chance at trying for a five-hit game, as the Irish were the home team and did not bat in the 9th (he would have been the next batter).
Phelps (3-1) logged 7.0 innings to match the longest outing of his career, allowing the single run on a solo home run, with New York Tech (0-5) managing four other hits and a pair of walks (plus a hit batter) versus Notre Dame’s most consistent starting pitcher this season. The sophomore righthander struck out five Bears batters while locating 69 of his 113 pitches for strikes. His season totals now include a 1.20 ERA, .246 opponent batting average and nearly a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (26-10), plus two more innings pitched (30) than hits allowed (28). Phelps easily could be carrying a 5-0 record, but the Irish totaled just one run in his other two starts (a 2-1 loss to Texas State and a 3-0 loss to Sacred Heart).
Nine different Irish players contributed to a 14-hit attack, led by Brezovsky, freshman third baseman A.J. Pollock (2-for-3, RBI, R, 3B, SB) and senior centerfielder Danny Dressman (2-for-4, RBI, R, SB). Pollock was hitting just .133 eight games into the season but he has surged since being moved into the 2-hole, raising his season batting average a full 200 points (.333) while batting .444 over the past seven games (12-for-27). Dressman has completed a similar upswing, as his season average had dipped to .225 earlier this week before he went 8-for-11 in a span covering the past three games (yielding a .333 season avg. that matches Pollock and Brett Lilley’s current totals).
Notre Dame now has registered double-digit hit totals seven times this season, winning all of those games except for the 9-4 loss to UNC Wilmington that saw the Irish lost a 3-1 lead by allowing six unearned 6th-inning runs. The past seven games have seen the Irish reach both 10-plus hits and double-digit runs five times, but the other two games have yielded frustrating shutout losses.
Singles from Brezovsky and Dressman gave the Irish the 2nd-inning lead and the Irish tacked on two more in the 3rd, as the fans were treated to a rarity with two triples – from Pollock and Brezovsky – just three batters apart. Senior first baseman Mike Dury added an RBI double in between those triples, as Notre Dame stretched to a 3-0 lead. Dressman later beat out a bunt single in the 4th and came around to score after Billy Boockford’s sac. bunt, a stolen base and the catcher’s throwing error.
A pair of errors opened the door for the Irish in the 7th, putting runners on the corners and ending the outing for righthanded reliever Louie Bernardi (who had relieved lefthanded starter Jon Burke). The Bears then brought in Matt McDevitt for a left-lefty matchup but Lilley drilled a 2-1 pitch up the middle for an RBI single and the 5-1 lead. The runners advanced on a wild pitch before Pollock showed his offensive versatility by executing the squeeze bunt for another run. McDevitt hit Dury with his next offering and walked Matt Weglarz on five pitches before Brezovsky plated two runners, pulling a 1-2 pitch through the left side of the infield for the opposite-field single.
Righthander Frank Sonnenberg then failed to slow the rally, with a wild pitch and balk bringing home another run (9-1) before Ryan Connoly pulled a full-count-pitch down the left-field line for an RBI double. Two batters later, Michael Wright chopped an opposite-field single over the shortstop’s head to complete the seven-run surge and leave the Irish cushion at 11-1.
Eddy Mendiola’s opposite-field double down the rightfield line and a pinch-hit single from Chris Soriano (to left field) later capped the scoring in the 8th while giving the walk-on catcher Soriano the first RBI of his two-year Notre Dame career. Another thrill was waiting for the Irish bench in the top of the 9th, as senior walk-on pitcher John Seabaugh made the first appearance of his own two-year career and promptly set down the side on just eight pitches – with a comebacker to the mound sandwiched around a pair of strikeouts.
Notes – Six different ND players are hitting above .315 for the season, including lefthanded hitters Brezovsky (.388), Lilley (.333) and Dressman (.333), plus the switch-hitting Dury (.319) and the righthanded-hitting freshman duo of Pollock (.333) and Boockford (.318) … Dressman has reached on 10 of his past 13 plate appearances (8-for-11, 2 BB) and now owns a .410 season on-base pct. (5 BB, 3 HBP) … Dury has totaled three more extra-base hits (9; 4 HR, 3B, 4 2B) than singles (6) this season and owns an impressive 1.143 season “OPS” (.441 on-base pct. plus .702 slugging pct., with 7 BB and 4 HBPs) … to put that number in comparison, an ND player has finished the season with an OPS of 1.150 or higher just 12 times previously (including departed 1B Craig Cooper’s 1.176 in his All-America 2006 season) … ND now has dominated the 7th-inning scoring this season by an 18-5 margin (including 7-0 in the 16-6 win over #7 Nebraska) … top hitters on the Spring Break trip include: Brezovsky (.409, 9-for-22, 7 RBI, 5 R, HR, 3B, 2 2B, BB, 2 Ks, 2-2 SB, E), Pollock (.391, 9-for-23, 4 RBI, 6 R, 3B, 2 BB, 3 Ks, SF, 3 SAC, 3-3 SB, 4 Es), Dury (.368, 7-for-19, 7 RBI, 7 R, 3 HR, 2 2B, 5 BB, 2 HBP, 2 Ks, 2-2 SB), Dressman (.364, 8-for-22, 4 RBI, 4 R, 2B, 3 BB, K, 1-2 SB), Lilley (.360, 9-for-25, 2 RBI, 9 R, BB, 3 HBP, 4 Ks, SAC, SB) and Boockford (.353, 6-for-17, 5 RBI, R, HR, 2B, BB, 2 Ks, 3 SAC) … ND’s 3.30 overall staff ERA is nearly identical to the 2006 team’s final ERA (3.27).
New York Tech (0-5) 0-0-0 1-0-0 0-0-0 – 1 5 5
Notre Dame (7-8) 0-1-2 1-0-0 7-1-0 – 11 12 1