May 17, 2005
Note: See PDF for tonight’s ND-USC baseball game program, including color photos, a “Tale of the Tape” stat comparison, probable series pitching rotations, updated BIG EAST standings and stat leaders, series and team notes, rosters and ND headshot page (full ND gamenotes and updated bio. capsules will be posted after Tuesday’s game, prior to Wednesday’s game).
TONIGHT’S GAME – Midweek games in May vs. top national teams have become a recent tradition at Eck Stadium, as USC becomes the fourth national power in the past seven seasons to take on the homestanding Irish in lateseason action … ND nearly swept eventual national champ Miami in 1999 (3-5, 1-0 in near-no-hitter for the Irish) and beat Arizona State in ’02 (9-4; second game rained out) before sweeping Central Florida last season in a pair of mid-May games (4-0, 3-2) … the first year of the Mainieri era (’95) also saw the Irish split vs. Alabama at Eck Stadium (5-3, 1-9).
THE SERIES (ND 2, USC 2) – The Trojans won the first two vs. the Irish, with the first game played on the campus of another USC Classic participant (5-4, at Louisville, in 1961) … the football rivals went 36 years before the next meeting, a 14-4 USC win at the 1997 Long Beach State Classic … the Irish rallied to beat USC at the 2002 Round Rock (Texas) Classic (15-8) … that game featured the freak broken leg suffered by current ND senior 1B Matt Edwards (after a collision with the leftfielder, while chasing a windblown popup) … USC led that game 8-4 before the Irish rallied to score the final seven runs … Chris Niesel yielded 8 runs (5 earned) in the first 3.1 innings (5 H, 2 BB, 2 Ks), with half of the USC’s runs coming on Travis McAndrews’ wind-blown grand slam inside the RF foul pole … Martin Vergara (3.2 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 Ks) then combined with junior Brandon Viloria (2 IP, 5 BF, save) to keep the Trojans off the scoreboard the rest of the way … ND held a 14-8 hit edge while the teams combined for nine errors (six by USC) … five Irish players registered multiple hits, including 3-hit games from Steve Stanley (2 R, RBI, 2B) and Andrew Bushey (3 R, 2 RBI, 2B) … Brett Bannister started for the Trojans (4 IP, 4 R/2 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 5 Ks) … the Irish beat the Trojans again last season at the USC Classic, 3-1 (halted after 7 innings due to rain) … Tom Thornton (6 IP, 4 H, 2 BB) turned in his first of many primetime performances while the ND offense cashed in three errors by USC (ND was ranked 10th and USC 20th) … Cody Rizzo’s throw to the plate preserved a 2-1 lead in the 6th … Ryan Doherty picked up the save (3 Ks, 5 BF) … Cody Rizzo, Matt Macri (RBI double) and Matt Bransfield each hit 2-for-3 while Greg Lopez had the team’s other hit … Bobby Paschal allowed a pair of unearned runs on 7 hits (4.2 IP, 3 Ks) … Blake Sharpe had an RBI single for USC … Rizzo is a former teammate of USC’s Baron Frost (U.S. U-16 National Team) and Ryan Broderick (club team) … ND’s Jeff Manship and USC’s Daniel Pereles were teammates on the U.S. Youth National Team.
IRISH ERUPT FOR BIG WIN AT PITTSBURGH – Just one day after bringing home only six of 30 baserunners in a doubleheader sweep at the hands of Pittsburgh, the Notre Dame offense responded in stunning fashion by plating 21 of its 28 baserunners in Monday’s 21-1 win over the Panthers … for the second straight day, the teams flipped spots in the BIG EAST standings, with the Irish returning to 3rd and maintaining control of their own postseason fate … ND hit 11-for-16 with runners in scoring position and launched a season-high 4 home runs in the 18-hit attack … Jeff Samardzija (6 IP, R, 2 H, 3 BB, 4 Ks) combined with Mike Dury and Joey Williamson for a 2-hitter … ND held Pittsburgh hitless with runners on base (0-for-11) and with 2-outs (0-for-10) … the 21 runs are the 3rd-most by and NDteam in the 11-year Paul Mainieri era, trailing only two games during the 2002 College World Series season (23-1 vs. Detroit and 25-1 vs. South Alabama in the NCAA Regional) … it marked the first time the Irish have reached 20 runs in a BIG EAST game (the ’98 team had a 19-7 win over Georgetown) and first time they have won a BIG EAST game by more than 15 runs (the ’03 team won 18-3 at St. John’s) … top hitters included Ross Brezovsky (4-for-4, RBI, 4 R, HR, BB), Craig Cooper (3-for-5, 5 RBI, 4 R, 2 HR) and Greg Lopez (3-for-5, 3 RBI, R) … Cody Rizzo homered for the second time in the series (3-run shot) and reached base nine times in the series (5-for-8, BB, 3 HBP, 2 HR).
IRISH NOTES – ND is in the midst of playing eight games in seven days, due to Saturday’s rainout and the upcoming Friday-Saturday series format … the Irish have scored 49 first-inning run in 51 games this season … ND’s 111 HBP rank 7th in Div. I history (three behind Long Beach State’s 2000 total) … the Irish are on pace for 122 HBPs in the regular season, which would rank 3rd (Nevada’s 1997 team hold the record, with 125) … the ND staff has held the opposition to .250 hitting in the eight post-finals games (4.18 ERA, 41 K, 28 BB, 60 H in 66.2) while the Irish defense has totaled just 5 Es in those 8 GP (.983 fielding pct.) … ND is 23-2 when leading at the end of the 6th inning, 15-1 when holding the opponent to 0-1 runs, 17-3-1 when outhitting the opponent, 21-8 when scoring the game’s first run, 16-8-1 when scoring a 1st-inning run, 23-11 when making 0-1 errors and 7-3 when hitting multiple HRs … during the past four games as the Irish leadoff hitter, Craig Cooper is batting .438 (7-fo-16, 7 RBI, 4 R, .938 slugging, 2 HR, 2 2B, 2 BB, 3 Ks, SAC) … Matt Edwards has 188 RBI in 183 games to rank 6th on the ND career RBI chart (one behind ’99 grad. Jeff Wagner) … Cody Rizzo’s 67 career HBP rank 5th in the NCAA record book, one behind former Wisconsin-Milwaukee player Clay Schwartz (’97) … Brett Lilley’s 23 HBP this season are five shy of Rizzo’s team record (28, in ’03) … Lilley has totaled 54 free passes (also 31 walks) this season to go along with his 63 hits … Mike Dury’s team-best ERA to 1.83 (he has 9 shutout innings in his past 6 GP, with 3 H, 3 BB, 7 Ks) … Lilley’s 41 error-free games this season include 18 since making the switch to 3B (in 23 GP) … Steve Andres has three more extra-base hits (4 HR-3B-5 2B) than singles (7) this season … Ross Brezovsky has hits in four of the past five games (8-for-15, 8 R) … Cooper (8-for-18/.444, 8 RBI) and Greg Lopez (8-for-16, 3 RBI) both are riding 5-game hit streaks … top hitters since finals ended (8 GP) include three batting .333 – Lopez (9-for-27, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 2 HBP), Cooper (9-for-27, 8 RBI, 2 HR, 2 2B, 5 BB) and Brezovsky (8-for-24, HR, 3 BB, HBP) – plus Rizzo’s .320 (8-for-25, 5 RBI, 6 R, 2 HR, BB, 5 HBP, 3 SB).