Feb. 24, 2000
MILLINGTON, Tenn. – Senior righthander Scott Cavey allowed just one hit over the first six innings and sophomore catcher Paul O’Toole collected three RBI in his debut as the Irish leadoff hitter, as the No. 23-ranked Notre Dame baseball team opened its season Thursday with a 6-0 victory over Air Force, in the first game of the Service Academies Classic, at USA Baseball Stadium.
Cavey’s 78-pitch outing included six strikeouts and eight groundouts, with one hit and one walk allowed during his 20 batters faced. The lanky righthander retired the final 10 batters he faced, after yielding a two-out double to leadoff hitter Brian LaBasco in the third inning. Air Force (7-6) already had a played a dozen games but failed to score versus Cavey, with Falcons junior righthander Michael Tufte turning in a solid effort of his own through the first six innings.
The Irish broke things open with four runs in the top of the seventh and final inning. Freshman rightfielder Brian Stavisky sparked the rally with the first hit of his Irish career, sending a 1-1 pitch into right-center before legging out a triple. Two batters later, sophomore DH Matt Strickroth delivered on an 0-2 count, drilling a single to the left of the first baseman with a drawn-in infield.
Notre Dame kept the rally going, as senior second baseman Jeff Perconte went the other way on a 1-1 pitch, sending it over the leaping shortstop LaBasco. The Irish then returned to the top of the order and O’Toole, who hit in the No. 2 spot for most of 1999 before switching spots with classmate Steve Stanley. The second-year catcher worked to a 2-1 count before smacking a two-run triple down the rightfield line, ending what had been an effective day for Tufte.
Sophomore third baseman Andrew Bushey capped the big inning with a two-out, 1-1 single through the right side of the infield.
Tufte (1-2) allowed five earned runs on eight hits and one walk, with five strikeouts.
The Irish capitalized on a one-out error in the fifth inning, when first baseman Ryan Carville dropped the ball on a routine grounder by Strickroth. After a stolen base, Perconte brought home the runner by lifting a 1-0 pitch over the head of drawn-in leftfielder Geremy Goldsberry. O’Toole followed with a first-pitch single to left that scored Perconte from second base.
Air Force’s best chance came in the second inning, when Goldsberry drew a full-count walk before moving up on a pair of groundouts. But Cavey struck out Carville to end the inning.
LaBasco could have managed a triple on his two-out hit in the third inning, but he stumbled prior to touching the first-base bag. Cavey then struck out Brendan Shannon on four pitches and the Falcons managed no more baserunners the rest of the way.
Junior lefthander Mike Naumann closed the game for the Irish, with a flyout, groundout and strikeout in the seventh.
NOTES: ND’s batting order included five left-handed bats in the first six spots, plus the switch-hitting Perconte in the No. 9 spot … the opening day lineup was as follows: O’Toole, Stanley, Bushey, righthanded-hitting junior shortstop Alec Porzel, senior first baseman Jeff Felker, Stavisky, senior leftfielder Matt Nussbaum, Strickroth and Perconte … the four-day, six-team tournament continues on Friday, with games between Army-Air Force and Navy-Ohio State before the much anticipated ND-OSU game at 3:00 CST (the day’s final game features Memphis vs. Army) … junior All-American Aaron Heilman will take the mound for the Irish while OSU is expected to counter with sophomore righthander E.J. Laretta (his `99 stats included a 10-3 record and 3.77 ERA, with 59 strikeouts, 18 walks and 86 hits allowed in 86 innings).
#23 NOTRE DAME (1-0-0) 0-0-0 0-2-0 4 – 6 9 0
AIR FORCE (7-6) 0-0-0 0-0-0 0 – 0 1 1
Cavey, Naumann (7) and O’Toole, Bok (7).
Tufte, Zicarelli (7) and Murphy.