May 27, 2000
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State jumped out to a 5-0 lead and then rode the strong pitching of junior lefthander Mark Freed, as the top-seeded Bulldogs defeated third seed Notre Dame, 8-1, in second-day NCAA Baseball Championship action Saturday in front 9,784 spirited spectators at Dudy Noble Field.
MSU (44-17) advances into Sundays championship round of the four-team Starkville Regional while Notre Dame (40-17) faces an elimination-game rematch versus second-seeded Tulane on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. central (the winner of that game then must beat MSU twice to win the regional).
(Note: Tulane, the home team, led the Irish 5-0 in the bottom of the third inning when the game was suspended due to severe weather conditions, as of 9:55 p.m., the delay had lasted two hours with another major storm lurking nearby).
Freed (9-1) held the Irish to four hits over the full nine innings while totaling nine strikeouts, just two walks and 35 batters faced.
Notre Dame senior righthander Scott Cavey (6-3) was touched for seven runs (six earned) on 10 hits and two walks over the first four innings, with three strikeouts. Sophomore righthander Drew Duff then closed the game with five solid innings, allowing one run on four hits and no walks (with no Ks).
Cavey opened the game by walking Shane Kelly on five pitches and Phillip Willingham then singled to left, with the runners moving up when freshman leftfielder Kris Billmaier overran the ball. Travis Chapman provided the big hit on a two-run double down the rightfield line, with Willingham and sophomore catcher Paul OToole exchanging bumps and shoves at the plate (the benches emptied but the situation quickly was diffused).
The Irish-who stranded seven in the game-had a baserunner in the bottom of the first, when sophomore centerfielder Steve Stanley drew a full-count walk with one out and stole second, but Freed served up two groundouts to get out of the inning.
MSU stretched to a 5-0 lead in the second, sparked by Kellys two-out, 2-2 triple that landed squarely on the rightfield line. Willingham sent the next pitch through the right side and Chapman added an infield single before Jon Knott drilled a two-run double to left-center.
The Irish had runners on the corners in the bottom of the second, after Billmaiers leadoff single to left and a two-out fielding error by the first baseman Knott. But Freed rolled up another groundout to get the third out. ND had runners on the corners again in the third, after junior shortstop Alec Porzels full-count walk with two outs in the third and senior first baseman Jeff Felkers single through the right side, but Billmaier flew out to center for the final out.
The Bulldogs added two more runs in the fourth, thanks to a single by Willingham, Chapmans double down the leftfield line and Ty Martins two-out, two-run double to the left-center gap. The hosts then went ahead 8-0 in the sixth, after Willingham tripled to center and scored on Chapmans flyout.
The Irish plated their lone run in the sixth, with Porzel collecting his 22nd double of the season on an 0-2 drive to left-center before scoring on groundouts by Felker and Billmaier. Notre Dame then had baserunners in the final two innings, with Andrew Bushey singling up the middle in the eighth and Billmaier getting hit by a pitch in the ninth.
Notes and quotes will be provided after Saturday nights game.