March 12, 2007
BABSON PARK, Fla. – Freshmen Ryan Smith and Ryne Intlekofer delivered a pair of clutch two-out plate appearances in the 9th and both players reprised their timely at-bats in the 10th, helping spark the Notre Dame baseball team to an 11-8 comeback victory over Webber International in Monday-afternoon action at Heart of Florida Field. Sophomore closer Kyle Weiland – who had yet to pitch in 2007 following preseason collarbone surgery – dominated in his first appearance, facing the minimum six batters over the final two innings while striking out two, inducing three groundouts and serving up an infield lineout to limit the Warriors from hitting the ball out of the infield.
Notre Dame (5-8) scored four times in the 9th to force the extra inning, with three straight Irish batters staying alive while facing two-out, two-strike situations. Righthander Ross Westdorp earlier had hit leadoff batter Brett Lilley with a pitch, but a pair of groundouts left Webber International (12-11) on the verge of the win. Smith then coaxed a full-count walk and Intlekofer – who was a late-game replacement at second base – pulled an RBI single into left field, bringing the tying run to the plate. Evan Sharpley followed with a full-count at-bat and his high, windblown popup fell just to the right of the second-base bag, with Sharpley hustling on the play for the fluke double.
Senior centerfielder Danny Dressman then collected his third hit of the game, going with a pitch for an opposite-field single through the left side of the infield to tie the game (8-8). The WIU shortstop tried to backhand the ball, with the leftfielder ultimately running in and making a throw that was too late to prevent the pinch-runner Brayden Ashdown from scoring.
The Irish won the game after totaling three runs and four hits in the 10th, versus lefthander Jeremiah O’Sullivan. Lilley started the sequence with his own third hit of the game, pulling a pitch into left field for the one-out single. A.J. Pollock then smacked a single into center field but O’Sullivan induced a popup for the second out. Smith delivered moments later with the go-ahead single into left field – as Lilley executed a perfect head-first slide around the inside of the plate to avoid Nic Horne’s tag. Pollock and Smith both took an extra base on the throw home, with each scoring on Intlekofer’s dribbler up the middle that produced the final 11-8 margin.
Notre Dame finished with 14 hits in Monday’s game and now is batting a combined .394 in its five wins this season, with the Irish averaging 12 runs scored in the victories. Four different Notre Dame regulars – Lilley (.529; 9-for-17), Pollock (.528, 9-for-17), sophomore shortstop Jeremy Barnes (.467, 7-for-16) and senior DH Mike Dury (.438, 7-for-16) – all are batting above .400 during the five Notre Dame wins this season.
Each team held the lead twice during the first five innings before the Irish forged a 4-4 tie with a run in the top of the 6th. WIU then answered with three runs, in what later appeared to be the decisive juncture of the game (prior to the Irish comeback). The Warriors had just two hits in the 6th but one of them was Chad Pearce’s two-run, opposite-field home run over the fence in right-center field.
Jim Latorre later rode the gulf stream that was blowing out to left-center for a solo home run that pushed WIU’s lead to 8-4 in the 8th. The home run spoiled an otherwise solid first appearance of the season from freshman lefthander David Mills, who logged two innings while allowing three hits and a walk.
Notre Dame sophomore righthander Brett Graffy was touched for four runs on six hits and a walk, with a pair of strikeouts in the first 4.1 innings. Lilley’s 3-for-5 day (RBI, 3 R) – which pushed his season batting average to .333 – included his 58th career time hit-by-pitch, tying the junior infielder for 12th in NCAA history (alongside former Clemson shortstop Khalil Greene and former Cal State Fullerton player David Bacani, who played at Eck Stadium in the 1999 NCAA South Bend Regional).
NOTES – The Irish will take a day off on Tuesday while traveling down to Fort Myers, where they will play in the Florida Gulf Coast Classic … with veteran Matt Weglarz being slowed recently due to illness, Smith caught both games of Sunday’s doubleheader and was behind the plate for all 10 innings vs. WIU (giving him 28 innings of catching duty in a span of 32 hours) … Dressman was due for a breakout, after a strikeout in his first AB vs. WIU made him 0-for-11 with a walk on the Spring Break trip … he then responded with three hits and walk in his final four plate appearances in Monday’s game (RBI, R) … all eight WIU runs were earned, marking the first time the ND pitching staff has allowed more than six earned runs in a game this season (9 of the previous 11 games each featured 0-3 earned runs allowed) … freshman RF Billy Boockford quietly has made a solid impact on the Spring Break trip, batting 2-for-5 in Monday’s game (RBI, R) to give him a team-leading .353 season batting avg. (6-for-17), among players with double-digit ABs … the “Ryan’s Hope” duo of Smith (1-for-4, BB, 2 RBI, 2 R, sac. fly) and Intlekofer (2-for-2, BB, 3 RBI, R) combined for 5 RBI in the comeback (they reached base a combined five times in nine plate appearances) … the ND pitchers had allowed just three home runs all season (one every four games) prior to giving up the pair of long balls to WIU … prior to Sunday’s action, the Irish had been struggling with their late-game offense, after batting just .141 with a total of just eight runs during the 7th-9th innings over the course of the first 10 games … that all changed with the eight-run 7th inning vs. Duquesne, plus the four 9th-inning runs and then three more in the 10th vs. WIU … top hitters on the Spring Break trip have included: Boockfod (5-for-12/.417, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB, K, SAC), Lilley (6-for-17/.375, RBI, 7 R, BB, 3 HBP, 3 Ks, SAC, SB), Smith (4-for-11/.364, 3 RBI, 4 R, 2B, 2 BB, 2 Ks, SF) and Pollock (5-for-16/.313, 3 RBI, 3 R, BB, 2 Ks, 2 SAC, SF)
Notre Dame (5-8) 1-0-0 0-2-1 0-0-4 3 – 11 14 2
Webber International (12-11) 0-0-2 0-2-3 0-1-0 0 – 8 12 3
Brett Graffy, Andrew Scheid (5), Mike Dury (6), David Mills (7), Kyle Weiland (9; W, 1-0) and Ryan Smith.
Andy Polk, Vinny Calabrese (6), Spike Zunz (7), Brodie House (8), Ross Westdorp (9), Jeremiah O’Sullivan (L, 0-1) and Nic Horne.
Home Runs: Chad Pearce (WIU; 1 on in 6th), Jim Latorre (WIU; solo in 8th)
Doubles: Evan Sharpley (ND), Harris Hartley (WIU).