May 4, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Sophomore lefthander Zac Cline tossed West Virginia’s third complete game of the weekend while the WVU offense used a pair of solo home runs and three unearned runs to provide enough cushion as the Mountaineers completed a rare series victory over 13th-ranked Notre Dame, 5-1, in BIG EAST Conference action Sunday at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (36-12) and West Virginia (31-14) now are tied for second in the BIG EAST standings at 14-4, just behind Rutgers (15-4, after rallying to win at UConn). The Irish have three-game series remaining at Rutgers and fourth-place Virginia Tech (13-7, after sweeping St. John’s) in the race for one of the four BIG EAST Tournament spots, with the final standings based on winning percentage (not “games back,” due to rainouts).
West Virginia joined St. John’s as the only teams ever to win two BIG EAST series versus Notre Dame, with the Irish dropping a BIG EAST series for just the eighth time in eight BIG EAST seasons. It marked only the fourth time that ND has lost a home BIG EAST series and the first time since St. John’s won 2-of-3 at Eck Stadium in 1998.
Senior righthander Ryan Kalita (5-1) logged a solid six innings but suffered the first loss of his ND career (12-1), after allowing an unearned run in the third and solo home runs by Grant Psomas and Jake Serfass in the sixth. Kalita did not walk a batter and scattered five hits, with four strikeouts in his 78-pitch outing. His classmate J.P. Gagne then closed the game, allowing two hits, no walks and a pair of unearned runs in the ninth (with three Ks).
Cline (9-3) registered his seventh complete game of the season after allowing the lone run on six hits, one walk and a hit batter, with eight strikeouts in his 131-pitch outing.
Notre Dame entered the game with one of the best fielding percentages in the nation (.973) but the Irish were guilty of three errors (their most in 26 games), leading to the three unearned runs.
The Irish offense continued to struggle with just six hits and 10 total baserunners, with seven of them left on base (for 19 total LOB in the series, with just seven runs scored). Notre Dame was poised for a tying rally in the seventh, with a 3-0 deficit and the bases loaded after one-out hits by Matt Edwards and Cody Rizzo and Matt Macri’s full-count walk. But Cline sandwiched a pair of flyouts (the first plating a run) around a hit batter to escape with the bases still loaded and a 3-1 lead.
Edwards (3-for-4, boosting season average to .369) and Rizzo (2-for-4) accounted for five of Notre Dame’s six hits, with the bottom of the order (6-9 spots) each batting 0-for-3.
NOTES – WVU entered the series ranked 6th in the nation with a .360 team batting average (also 28th in scoring, with 7.8 runs/gm) but the ND pitchers held WVU to .215 batting (20-for-92) and just 12 total runs in the series … the three home runs in the series (giving WVU 63 for the season) played key roles in both WVU wins, with Stan Posluszny’s 2-run shot providing the final margin in Saturday’s 7-5 game … the ND offense managed to hit just .200 in the series (17-for-85) with seven runs scored … the Irish had their chances to battle back in various situational hitting opportunities but ND hit 0-for-4 in the series with the bases loaded, 2-for-24 with two outs (.083) and 4-for-21 (.190) with runners in scoring position (the Irish also had a runner on third and less than two outs 10 times, plating the run on just four of those prime RBI chances) … the ND staff posted a 3.24 staff ERA in the series to go along with the .215 opponent batting average (plus 23 Ks and just 5 walks) … Boston College (10-8) got back in the BIG EAST race after completing a sweep of Pittsburgh (10-10) while St. John’s (9-11) saw its postseason hopes fade and Seton Hall (9-13) was eliminated from the BIGE EAST Tournament race after losing again to last-place Georgetown … WVU (5-5) became the first team ever to post five all-time wins over ND at Eck Stadium.
West Virginia 0-0-1 0-1-1 0-0-2 – 5 7 0
Notre Dame 0-0-0 0-0-0 1-0-0 – 1 6 3
Zac Cline (W, 9-3) and Travis D’Amico.
Ryan Kalita (L, 5-1), J.P. Gagne and Javi Sanchez.
Home Runs: Grant Psomas, WVU (solo in 5th, 7th of season), Jake Serfass (solo in 6th, 8th of season).