March 27, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Central Michigan offense pushed across six runs in its first trip to the plate before senior righthander Kurt Lauscher worked out of several jams, as the Chippewas defeated the Irish for the third time in the past four seasons, 8-4, in Tuesday-night baseball action at Eck Stadium. Notre Dame once again had plenty of chances to put themselves in position to win the game, but the hosts failed to capitalize on 17 total baserunners while wasting the team’s second error-free game of the season.
Notre Dame (11-12) quickly answered CMU’s early flurry on Mike Dury’s two-run blast moments later, but the Irish ultimately were unable to cash in enough on a night that saw them total nine hits plus seven other baserunners who reached via walks. Both teams had only two leadoff baserunners in the game but the visitors were more effective in the ensuing situations, batting 8-for-17 with runners on base (.471), 6-for-11 with men in scoring position (.546) and 5-for-14 with 2-outs (.357, with five CMU runs scoring on 2-out hits). The Irish countered by batting 4-for-13 with runners on (.308) but just 1-for-6 with them in scoring position and 2-for-10 overall with 2-outs (no RBI). Notre Dame left 11 runners on base Â¬- two days after stranding 14 in the 9-1 loss to USF – and saw two other runners erased on a pair of double-play balls.
Central Michigan (12-10) opened the game versus senior righthander Jess Stewart (1-1) by sending 11 batters to the plate, with five singles, three doubles, an RBI groundout and a wild pitch comprising the big inning. A.J. Pollock then drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the 1st inning and scored moments later, when the senior first baseman Dury sent a 1-1 pitch over the rightfield fence for his sixth home run of the season and the 10th of his career.
The Irish had allowed just eight 1st-inning runs in the first 10 games of the season but now have allowed nine 1st-inning scores by the opponent over the past three games. The six runs scored by CMU matches the most by any ND opponent in an inning this season.
Lauscher (1-1) allowed the four runs on eight hits and four walks, striking out four in his 6.0 innings and 106 pitches. Three CMU relievers then allowed just one hit but walked three over the final three innings, with senior lefthander James Riccio picking up his first save of the season (2.1 IP, H, 2 Ks).
Four Notre Dame relievers – Joey Williamson, Brett Graffy, Tony Langford and the lefthander Dury – combined for seven strong innings of relief, in a planned rotation. The four came out of the bullpen to allow just two runs, two hits and three walks while striking out six and facing only 26 batters (five over the minimum) to close out the game.
All four of the game’s extra-base hits came in the opening frame and the only scoring the rest of the way came in back-to-back half-innings. The Irish scored twice in the 7th – pushing its season margin to 22-12 in that inning – to forge a 6-4 game, but CMU matched that output with a pair of runs in the top of the 8th.
Junior shortstop Brett Lilley opened the bottom of the 7th by sending a 1-2 pitch through the left side for an opposite-field single, extending his hitting streak to eight games (matching his career-best, set in mid-May of ’06). The freshman third baseman Pollock then followed with a hit-and-run single up the middle (the second baseman knocked the ball down but had no play), ending the night for Lauscher. Sophomore RHP Jeff Richard then promptly uncorked a wild pitch and Lilley scored moments later on Matt Weglarz’s one-out flyout to right field. Walks to Danny Dressman and Ross Brezovsky loaded the bases and the next CMU pitcher duplicated Riccio’s feat, with Pollock scoring on the wild pitch by righthander Chris Kuppillas. The third walk of the inning, by Jeremy Barnes, prompted another call to the bullpen and Riccio preserved the lead, as pinch-hitter Ryan Smith grounded out to end the threat.
NOTES: Lilley (2-for-5) inched closer to hitting .400 for the season (.396) and scored for the 27th time in ’07 (23 GP) … he is batting 17-for-35 (.486) in the current 8-game hit streak … Lilley has combined to hit 7-for-12 in three career games vs. CMU … the Irish are just 1-9 when being outhit this season and now are 6-2 when hitting at least one home run … Pollock (2-for-4, 2 R) raised his season avg. to .382 … ND still is searching for consistency in its late-game offense and comeback ability, as the Irish now are just 2-9 when trailing at the end of the 6th inning (1-11 when entering the 9th with a deficit) … since making three costly errors (plus four passed balls) in Saturday’s loss to USF, the Irish have made just one error over the past two games (that E came in the 1st inning of Sunday’s game, meaning the Irish have gone 17 straight innings without a fielding error) … Dury – who already has two more home runs than he totaled in the 2004-06 seasons combined (when he was mostly a reserve and had a total of 84 ABs) – is riding a 6-game hit streak and is on pace to hit 15 home runs in the 2007 regular season … no ND player has hit 15-plus HRs in the regular season since Brant Ust’s 16 in 1999 …. since 1995, the only other times an ND player has totaled 15-plus HRs in the regular season was Ust in ’98 (17) and Jeff Wagner in ’97 (16) … Dury (1-for-4) now has 50 total bases in 23 games played and 74 at-bats, boosting his season slugging pct. To .676 (his combined slugging from ’04-’06 was .412) … Stewart’s previous start came on the 2005 Spring Break trip, a loss to the hometown team, UT-San Antonio … sophomore Eddy Mendiola had a pinch-hit single in the 6th and now is batting 5-for-7 in limited duty this season (4-for-5 as a pinch-hitter).
Central Michigan (12-10) 6-0-0 0-0-0 0-2-0 – 8 10 1
Notre Dame (11-12) 2-0-0 0-0-0 2-0-0 – 4 9 0
Kurt Lauscher (W, 1-1), Jeff Richard (7), Chris Kupillas (7), James Ricchio (7; SV, 1) and Dale Cornstubble.
Jess Stewart (L, 1-1), Joey Williamson (3), Brett Graffy (6), Tony Langford (7), Mike Dury (8) and Matt Weglarz.
Home Run: Mike Dury, ND (1 on in 1st; 6th of season/10th of career).
Doubles: Scott Szpyrka (CMU), Noah Lankford (CMU), James Teas (CMU).