March 25, 2006
BETHESDA, Md. – Ryan Craft batted 4-for-5 and factored into half of Georgetown’s runs while Warren Sizemore limited Notre Dame to three runs on four hits and one walk, as the Hoyas defeated the Irish, 8-4, in the BIG EAST opener for both teams at Shirley Povich Field.
Notre Dame (10-8, 0-1 BIG EAST) – now 7-4 in BIG EAST openers, with nine of those games coming on the road -continued its strong first-inning offensive production by scoring two quick runs but junior righthander Jeff Manship (2-1) then suffered an uncharacteristic rocky first inning of his own, allowing two runs on four hits to produce a tie game. Manship’s previous four starts this season had included no first-inning runs allowed and just 1-for-13 batting by the opponents.
Sizemore (2-1) struck out two Notre Dame batters while avoiding the big inning, with the senior righthander’s teammates gaining the final cushion by scoring eight times in the seventh. Georgetown (11-12, 1-0) earlier had taken the lead with a pair of run in the third, with the Irish then scoring in the fourth for a 4-3 game.
Craft (4-for-5, 2 RBI, 2 R) paced Georgetown’s 15-hit attack while Matthew Maranges added a 2-for-4 game (3 RBI) as the Hoyas 8-hole hitter.
Senior first baseman Craig Cooper made his 11th straight start as the Notre Dame leadoff batter and reached in the 1st inning for the 10th time in those 11 games, drawing a leadoff walk before moving up when Brett Lilley was hit by a pitch and Danny Dressman laid down a sacrifice bunt. Sean Gaston’s rightside groundout then plated the game’s first run and Matt Bransfield pulled an RBI double into the leftfield corner.
Georgetown tied the game moments later, thanks to Mark McLaughlin’s leadoff double, Matthew Bouchard’s RBI single and Craft’s run-scoring hit up the middle. The home team then took a 4-2 lead two innings later, with key doubles from Craft and Maranges (2 RBI).
The Irish had allowed just three 1st-inning runs in 17 previous games this season and now own a 19-5 scoring edge in the opening frame. Saturday’s game marked the first time all season that Notre Dame has allowed more than one 1st-inning run.
Notre Dame manufactured a run in the 4th, as Alex Nettey was hit by a pitch for the 10th time this season (most by any BIG EAST player) before stealing second, moving up on a wild pitch and scoring when Greg Lopez sliced an RBI single into right-center.
Lopez also had a strong relay throw to gun down a runner at the plate in the sixth inning but also saw the end of his error-less streak that had spanned 14-plus games and 59 fielding chances. The senior shortstop has made just two errors all season,w ith a .972 fielding percentage.
Lilley was hit-by-pitch on his first two trips to the plate, giving the sophomore third baseman seven HBPs this season and 37 in his career – third-most in Notre Dame history behind current senior rightfielder/catcher Cody Rizzo (73) and 1995 graduate Craig DeSensi (38).
Notre Dame (10-8, 0-1 BIG EAST) 2-0-0 1-0-0 0-0-0 – 3 4 1
Georgetown (11-12, 1-0 BIG EAST) 2-0-2 0-0-0 4-0-X – 8 15 0
Doubles: Matt Bransfield 2 (ND), Mark McLaughlin 2 (GU), Ryan Craft (GU),Matthew Maranges (GU).