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Eagles And Irish Battle To 4-7, 6-4 Split At Eck Stadium

April 10, 2004

Box Score

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Matt Edwards delivered the decisive two-run double in the bottom of the 8th as the 4th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team earned a split (4-7, 6-4) of its BIG EAST doubleheader with visiting Boston College in Saturday afternoon action at Eck Stadium.

Notre Dame (25-4) saw its 11-game winning streak come to an end but the Irish still sit atop the BIG EAST standings (7-1) and are tied for the fewest losses among 287 Division I teams, with Texas (34-4), Mississippi (26-4) and Albany (18-4) being the only other teams with four losses.

The Irish offense endured a frustrating day at the plate, with just three players managing three-plus hits in the doubleheader: junior third baseman Matt Macri (4-for-8, 2 RBI, 4 R, HR, 2B), sophomore DH Matt Bransfield (3-for-6, 2 R, HBP) and sophomore leftfielder Steve Andres (3-for-7, RBI, R, BB, SB). The other nine ND players who appeared in the doubleheader combined to hit just 4-for-38 (.105) in the two games.

Notre Dame also survived a five-error game in the nightcap, marking just the third time all season that the Irish have made more than two errors in a game.

Boston College (12-17, 4-3) – which was picked by Baseball America to finish second in the BIG EAST and qualify for the NCAAs – showed the benefits of having 19 letterwinners back from its 2003 squad, with several players delivering key hits in both games.

The Irish continued to play without injured senior second baseman Steve Sollmann, who now has missed five games as he recovers from a fractured jaw and the ensuing surgery. The 2003 All-American and Academic All-American returned to campus on Friday (he underwent surgery last week in his hometown of Cincinnati) and attended Saturday’s doubleheader (he is slated to return to Cincinnati next Friday for a follow-up with the medical staff).

Notre Dame’s go-ahead rally in the nightcap began with Andres’ single up the middle. Sophomore shortstop Greg Lopez then bunted Andres to second before Joe Martinez hit senior second baseman Javi Sanchez with an 0-1 pitch (ending the brief relief sting for the junior righthander).

Senior closer Mike Gauthier came on to get a big strikeout but Edwards jumped all over an 0-1 pitch, pulling it into the leftfield corner for a two-run double and the 6-4 lead.

The Irish had escaped trouble in the top of the 8th, with two outs and two runners on base. Sophomore closer Ryan Doherty (4-0) then made his sprint out of the bullpen and issued a walk to load the bases before blowing a 2-2 pitch by 8-hole hitter Marco Albano to preserve the 4-4 score.

Sophomore lefthander Tom Thornton pitched well enough to win (6.2 IP, 7 H, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 55 of 76 pitches for strikes), but two of the four runs credited to him came unearned. Freshman righthander Jeff Samardzija was the first ND reliever in the nightcap and extended his shutout streak to 16 innings (H, BB), spanning his last eight appearances.

BC opened the second game with an RBI single from Ryan Leahy (after a pair of ND errors) but the Irish answered with two of their own. Macri started things off by sending an 0-2 single into right field, with Bransfield knocking the next pitch through the left side. Junior righthander Jake Marsello (6 IP, 6 H, 4 R/3 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks) then uncorked a wild pitch and issued an intentional walk to Andres before Sanchez delivered with two outs, sending a two-run single into the left-center gap. Andres then was ready to score on Sean Gaston’s bouncer up the middle – but the shortstop Leahy made a tough diving play and shoveled to second base for the force play.

Macri again sparked a run-scoring sequence in the 3rd, with a leadoff single up the middle. A passed ball moved Macri into scoring position and Andres brought home the unearned run with a single to right-center (on a 3-0 count). BC cut the lead to 3-2 in the 4th (after a Jason Delaney double and Greer’s RBI single) but Macri restored the two-run cushion in the 5th, driving Marsello’s first pitch the other way and over the rightfield fence for his fifth home run of the season.

Leahy saved the day again for BC in the 6th, making a tough play to his right and completing the throw with two outs and a runner on third. The Eagles then forged the 4-4 tie in the 7th, after singles from Greer and Albano and Ryan Morgan’s sacrifice fly.

Senior righthander Matt O’Donnell (3-2) went the distance to win the seven-inning opener (6 H, 4 UER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 116 pitches) while junior righthander Chris Niesel (4-2) suffered the loss (4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R/4 ER, 4 Ks). Bransfield hit 2-for-2 in the opener, with no other Irish player managing double-digit hits, RBI or runs.

UPDATED TEAM NOTES – The 7-1 BIG EAST start still ranks among the best in ND’s nine seasons in the league (the ’99 team started 12-1, the ’98 team was 10-0 and then 13-1, and the ’03 team opened 8-1 in league play) … BC hit .357 with runners in scoring position during the doubleheader (5-for-14) while ND put just 4-of-15 leadoff batters on base (.267) … Macri bumped his team-leading batting avg. to .388 and is hitting 17-for-28 (.607) in his career-best seven-game hitting streak (10 RBI, 16 R, 4 BB, HBP, HR, 2 3B, 2 2B, with 26 total bases and a .929 slugging pct. in those seven games) … he still has totaled just 5 errors in 27 games played this season, with 23 error-free games (17 of the last 18) … sophomore CF Cody Rizzo has yet to draw a walk this season but he was hit by a pitch for the team-leading 10th time this season, giving him 38 career HBPs to tie Craig DeSensi’s ND record (’92-’95) … the Irish totaled 4 HBPs in the doubleheader and now have 53 for the season (just 22 shy of that ND record), with Lopez, Sanchez and Sollmann each totaling 6 HBPs in ’04 … Andres owns the team’s only double-digit hit streak of the ’04 season and now is 2nd on the team with a .348 season batting avg. (he is batting .405/15-for-37 in his 12-game hit streak, with 11 RBI, 12 R, 2 HR, 3B, 15 BB) … Andres owns a 1.120 “OBS” (.526 on-base, .594 slugging pct.) … Bransfield has hits in 14 of the last 15 games and has moved up to 6th on the ND batting charts (.333) … Sanchez has hit safely in his last 9 games while sophomore RF Craig Cooper’s career-best 9-game hitting streak ended in the nightcap … Andres is ND’s top hitter in ’04 BIG EAST games (.375, 9-for-24, 8 RBI, 5 R, 8 BB) while Bransfield is batting .344 in BIG EAST action (11-for-32, 8 RBI, 6 R) … Lopez now has posted 22 error-free games … Doherty struck out three of the five batters he faced, with his season totals now including a 0.60 ERA, .102 opp. batting avg. (5-for-49) and 19 Ks in 15 IP … Samardzija dropped his team-leading ERA to 0.44 (plus .147 opp. avg.) … Thornton’s season ERA (2.42) and opp. batting (.216) went up slightly, with his season K-to-walk ratio now nearly 3-to-1 (32/12) … his 2.11 career ERA remains best in ND history … Niesel’s career record with the Irish now stands at 17-3 … the ND-BC series has been a tight one in recent years (ND holds a 6-5 edge in the last 11) … the Irish now are 10-3 vs. BC at Eck Stadium … ND is 64-9 in April during the past four seasons … Macri’s HR gives ND 31 for the season (matching the ’03 team’s total) … the Irish now own a 65-19 combined scoring edge in the 7th (34-10) and 8th (31-9) innings … ND is 52-8 in its last 60 at The Eck … the Irish have scored in 113 straight games, 342 of the last 343 and 585 of 589 (99.32%) in the 10-year Paul Mainieri era.

Boston College 2-0-2 1-0-2 0 – 7 11 1

#4 Notre Dame 0-0-0 0-0-0 4 – 4 6 1

Matt O’Donnell (W, 3-2) and Garrett Greer.

Chris Niesel (L, 4-2), Mike Dury (5), Dan Kapala (7) and Javi Sanchez.

Home Run: Josh DiScipio, BC (1 on in 6th, 1st of season).

Doubles: Matt Macri (ND), Javi Sanchez (ND)., Eric Wright (BC), Ryan Morgan (BC), Jason Delaney (BC), DiScipio (BC)

Boston College (12-17, 4-3 BIG EAST) 1-0-0 1-0-0 2-0-0 – 4 8 0

#4 Notre Dame (25-4, 7-1 BIG EAST) 2-0-1 0-1-0 0-2-X – 6 8 5

Jake Marsello, Joe Martinez (7; L, 2-2), Mike Gauthier (9) and Shawn McGill.

Tom Thornton, Jeff Samardzija (7), Ryan Doherty (9; W, 4-0) and Sean Gaston.

Home Run: Matt Macri, ND (solo in 5th, 5th of season).

Doubles: Matt Edwards (ND), Jason Delaney (BC).