May 8, 2005
JAMAICA, N.Y. – The St. John’s baseball team delivered the clutch hits to register another close win over Notre Dame, 3-1, becoming just the third BIG EAST team to sweep a three-game series from the Irish in Notre Dame’s 10 seasons as a member of the conference.
Notre Dame (27-18-1, 10-7-1 BIG EAST) remains third in the BIG EAST standings but still has some work to do in order to secure a spot in the four-team BIG EAST Tournament. Second-place Boston College (14-5) and fifth-place Pittsburgh (8-8) were to play one game on Sunday and then two on Monday while fourth-place Rutgers (8-8) was idle this weekend. The Irish travel to Pittsburgh next weekend before ending the regular season at home versus 8th-place West Virginia while BC has one other series remaining (at 6th-place Connecticut) and Rutgers has series left vs. 9th-place Georgetown and 10th-place Seton Hall.
St. John’s (33-13, 15-4) moved closer to clinching the BIG EAST regular-season title, sweeping the series despite only outscoring the Irish by a total of four runs in the three games (including Saturday’s 3-2, 6-5 doubleheader).
The Red Storm owned a key edge in clutch hitting throughout the series, including a pair of runs in the 7th that broke the 1-1 tie.
Freshmen second baseman Brett Lilley had three of the four Irish hits and delivered the only RBI. Leadoff batter Alex Nettey picked up the other Notre Dame hit but the 3-9 batters combined for an 0-for-10 day.
The Notre Dame pitching staff had a solid series (4.21 ERA) facing the league’s frontrunner but the Irish batters hit just .172 with 15 hits and eight runs in the series.
Sophomore righthander Anthony Sullivan (5-2) tossed seven solid innings for SJU, holding the Irish to one run on three hits and four walks while striking out four ND batters. Junior righthander Craig Hansen then closed the game for his 11th save of the season (H, 2 BB, 2 Ks).
A pair of sophomore righthanders logged most of the innings for Notre Dame, as Jeff Manship tossed the first four innings (3 H, R, BB, 3 Ks) before giving way to his classmate Jeff Samardzija as part of another pitch-count outing for Manship. Samardzija (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season, allowing the two runs on four hits and four walks in 2.2 innings (with 3 Ks).
St. John’s became just the third team ever to sweep a three-game series from the Irish in Notre Dame’s 10 seasons of BIG EAST play – joining Seton Hall (1996) and Connecticut (2002) in that distinction.
Samardzija hit 9-hole hitter Sam DeLuca with a pitch to start the bottom of the 7th and Jim Martin bunted the runner over before P.J. Antoniato’s blooper dropped inside the leftfield line (Antoniato moved up on the throw). An intentional walk to Greg Thomson then loaded the bases and cleanup batter Chris Joachim went down swinging at a full-count pitch – but Burke’s windblown popup landed in no-man’s-land beyond the second-base bag to bring home a pair of runs.
SJU had opened the scoring in the 1st, when Burke delivered a 2-out single up the middle. Antoniato started the sequence with a one-out single to center field, moving up on a pitch that got away from the catcher and Thomson’s infield single before scoring on Burke’s hit.
The Irish tied the game in the 5th on their own two-out rally. Alex Nettey beat out a ball hit to the shortstop and advanced up on the errant throw before scoring when Lilley lined a single into the right-center gap.
Notre Dame was poised to tie the game in the 8th, with one out and the bases loaded – but Hansen induced a double-play ball to end the threat.
NOTES: Cody Rizzo was hit-by-pitch for the 64th time in his career (still 5th in NCAA history, four shy of 4th) … it marked ND’s 100th HBP of the season, still 11th in NCAA history and one behind Washington’s 1998 total … ND (also 106 in ’04) joins Long Beach State (’98-’99) as the only Division I teams ever to total 100-plus HBPs in consecutive seasons … Rizzo completed a solid weekend behind the plate subbing for sophomore Sean Gaston (sore back) … an all-state catcher as a prep, Rizzo had not played behind the plate since his freshman season in 2003 (when he made just 4 starts at the positions) … the Irish made just one error in the series and had been unbeaten previously this season in error-free games (now 6-2) … ND also entered the series with a 17-1 record when holding the opponent to 0-3 runs (now 17-3) … the Irish won 9-of-10 from SJU during a recent stretch but the Red Storm now have won 4 of the last 5 meetings … Lilley’s RBI single in the 5th pushed the 2nd-longest scoring streak in ND history to 193 games (also 424 of the last 425 and 663 of 669 in the 11-year Paul Mainieri era) … Lilley and junior SS Greg Lopez both now have posted 36 error-free games this season (Lopez owns a 9-game errorless streak and has just one E in the past 17 games) … senior 1B Matt Edwards went hitless in the series, his first 3-game hitless slump of the season … the Irish are 18-3-1 at home this season but just 9-15 on the road.
Notre Dame 0-0-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 – 1 3 0
St. John’s 1-0-0 0-0-0 2-0-0 – 3 7 1