April 16, 2002
Notre Dame, Ind. – Andrew Bushey’s first career grand-slam home run – at any level – highlighted a productive night for the Irish offense while junior righthander J.P. Gagne notched his third victory in the last six days, as the Notre Dame baseball team picked up another win near the end of its 14-game homestand, 10-1 over Ball state, in Tuesday-night action at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (23-12) – which has won 14 of its last 16 and five straight – stranded just six baserunners while rapping out 13 hits, five of them for extra bases. Bushey’s bases-clearing home run doubled the Irish lead in the bottom of the seventh (9-1), after sophomore first baseman Joe Thaman’s three-run shot had yielded a 5-1 lead in the second.
Five Irish players registered two hits, including senior centerfielder Steve Stanley – whose 10-game hitting streak includes multiple hits in each of the last nine games.
Gagne (5-3) – whose last three outings include 11 innings of six-hit shutout ball – lowered his season ERA to 2.63, after blanking Ball State (18-13) from the third to seventh innings. He faced just 15 batters while allowing two hits and a walk, with three strikeouts.
The Irish complete the 17-day homestand on Wednesday night versus Toledo (6:05) before returning to BIG EAST Conference play with a three-game weekend series at Seton Hall. Freshman Tyler Jones is slated to draw his first career start versus Toledo while freshman John Axford (who pitched the first two frames vs. BSU) and junior Peter Ogilvie are the likely starters for Saturday’s game at SHU (Gagne or freshman Grant Johnson then likely would start on Sunday, pending the relief needs in the first two games of the series).
Another regular member of Notre Dame’s group of righthanded starters, freshman Chris Niesel, is sidelined indefinitely after being diagnosed with mononucleosis.
The Irish opened their half of the second inning with leadoff singles from Steve Sollmann and Kris Billmaier before Thaman connected on a one-out, full-count pitch from sophomore righthander Andrew Anderson (0-3), sending the ball over the rightfield fence for his second home run of the season and fourth of his career. Thaman nearly added an opposite-field shot to open the seventh, with his double down hitting off the leftfield wall, just a few feet inside the foul pole.
Stanley opened the bottom of the seventh by rapping a leadoff single up the middle versus freshman lefthander Kory Bucklew, who then walked junior DH Mike Holba on five pitches before issuing a one-out intentional pass to Paul O’Toole. Bushey – the fourth lefthanded batter of the inning – then went with a 1-1 offering and sent the opposite-field grand slam over the leftfield wall for his fourth home run of the season and the ninth of his career.
NOTES: Stanley is batting .592 during his current 10-game hitting streak (25-for-42), his third double-digit hitting streak of the season (also 13 and 10) and the seventh of his career … he has hits in 33 of 35 games this season and in 40 of his last 42 overall games with the Irish … ND is batting .344 during the current 11-2 homestand, with a 2.43 team ERA and .975 fielding pct. (12 errors, none vs. BSU) in that 13-game stretch … junior SS Javier Sanchez owns nine error-free games during the homestand … Stanley has not struck out in the last 13 games (47 at-bats) and has just three Ks all season, in 144 ABs … ND has won 81% of its games in April during the eight-year Paul Mainieri era (since ’95), with that 151-36 April record including 31-4 during the past two seasons (11-2 in ’02).
BALL STATE 0-1-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 – 1 6 3
NOTRE DAME 2-3-0 0-0-0 4-1-X – 10 13 2
Andrew Anderson (L, 0-3), Kory Bucklew (2), John Pettitbone (7), Michael Penn (8) and Doug Boone, Troy Garrett (8).
John Axford, J.P. Gagne (W, 5-3), Brandon Viloria (7), Grant Johnson (8) and Paul O’Toole), Brent Weiss (9).
Home Runs: Joe Thaman, ND (2 on in 2nd, 2nd of season), Andrew Bushey, ND ( grand slam in 7th, 4th of season).
Doubles: Mike Holba (ND), Brian Stavisky (ND), Thaman (ND), Brad Snyder (BSU), Doug Boone (BSU).