Oct. 9, 2001
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Freshman righthander Chris Niesel tossed five strong innings while receiving offensive support from many of his teammates, as the gold team beat the blue team, 7-4, in the first game of the annual Notre Dame baseball Blue-Gold World Series, Tuesday at Eck Stadium.
The three-day series continues on Wednesday (again at 4:30), with the blue team set to pitch senior Matt Buchmeier while the gold will counter with another freshman in Martin Vergara. The seven-inning games are open to the public, with junior Ryan Kalita (blue) and freshman John Axford (gold) expected to start on Thursday.
Niesel-one of five pitchers nationwide to be named by Baseball Americas as a first team high school All-American last season-proved up to the task as the gold team’s game-one starter, allowing a first-inning run and three total hits while striking out five batters in his five-inning, 54-pitch stint.
Seven of the eight gold-team starters registered hits, led by senior centerfielder Steve Stanley, freshman shortstop Matt Macri and sophomore second baseman Zach Sisko. Stanley had two of the day’s more impressive plays-a powerful groundrule double in the top of the fourth and a running catch against the wall in the bottom of the frame-while batting 3-for-5 with a stolen base, RBI and run scored.
Macri reached base four times (2-for-4 with a walk and reached-on-error), highlighted by an RBI single, a two-run triple and a stolen base. Sisko was the surprise performer of the day, batting 3-for-4 with an RBI and three runs scored.
Sophomore second baseball Steve Sollmann (2-for-4, R) was the only player with multiple hits for the blue team, which managed just six hits versus the freshman tandem of Niesel and Grant Johnson (who also yielded three walks).
The gold team’s big inning came in the top of the second, with three of nine batters crossing the plate in the flurry. Junior first baseman Mike Holba flared the first pitch from junior J.P. Gagne down the leftfield line, followed by a 2-2 single to left from freshman third baseman Geoff Milsom and a sacrifice bunt off the bat of freshman catcher Mike Milligan.
Sisko added an RBI single to left and sophomore Javier Sanchez failed to make a diving stop up the middle on Stanley’s sharp grounder (for a 2-1 game). Macri and freshman leftfielder Matt Edwards kept the rally going when sophomore third baseman Soran Leahy had trouble fielding their groundballs (Edwards’ ball was ruled a hit).
The gold team stretched to 5-1 in the sixth, versus junior Brandon Viloria, with the big hits including Sisko’s triple to right-center, Macri’s RBI single to left (followed by a stolen base) and senior rightfielder Matt Bok’s RBI single up the middle.
The blue team rallied moments later versus Johnson, sparked by Sollmann’s double to left-center. Junior leftfielder Brian Stavisky then drew a one-one, full-count walk and both runners stole a base while freshman DH Brent Weiss was earning his own full-count walk. Sophomore first baseman Joe Thaman followed with a two-run single to center field and senior rightfielder Matt Strickroth capped the rally with a sacrifice fly to right.
The gold added some breathing room in the seventh, thanks to consecutive two-out, 1-2 singles up the middle from Sisko and Stanley and Macri’s two-run triple to left-center.
The blue had scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first, after senior catcher Paul O’Toole’s single down the rightfield line, a stolen base and Stavisky’s groundrule double over the wall in left-center.
ND GOLD 0-3-0 0-0-2 2 - 7 12 1ND BLUE 1-0-0 0-0-3 0 - 4 6 1
Chris Niesel, Grant Johnson (6) and Mike Milligan.
J.P. Gagne, Brandon Viloria (6) and Paul O’Toole.
Triples: Zach Sisko (G), Matt Macri (G).
Doubles: Steve Stanley (G), Brian Stavisky (B), Steve Sollmann 2 (B).