May 7, 2005
JAMAICA, N.Y. – The Notre Dame baseball team dropped a pair of one-run games at BIG EAST frontunner St. John’s, 3-2 and 6-5, in Saturday’s nationally-televised action at The Ballpark. The Irish nearly scratched out a win in the first game versus ace pitcher Anthony Varvaro and then carried a 5-2 lead into the 8th inning of the nightcap, only to see the Red Storm force extra innings before winning in the 10th.
Notre Dame (27-17-1, 10-6-1 BIG EAST) saw its 11-game unbeaten streak come to an end and missed out on a chance to make a run at the BIG EAST regular-season title while St. John’s (32-13, 15-4) solidified its spot atop the league standings. The Irish entered the day in control of their own destiny for winning the regular-season title but now must win their final seven BIG EAST games – and have 7th-place Villanova sweep SJU – to claim the title and the top seed in the four-team BIG EAST Tournament. Notre Dame has series left at 5th-place Pittsburgh and at home vs. 9th-place West Virginia while 2nd-place Boston College (14-5) still has to face the Panthers before finishing at 6th-place Connecticut.
Saturday’s action marked just the eighth time in 11 BIG EAST seasons that an opponent has swept a doubleheader from Notre Dame, spanning 88 league series.
Sophomore righthander Dan Kapala (4-2) suffered the tough-luck loss in the nine-inning first game, allowing the three runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out three in 8.0 innings of work. SJU junior righthander Varvaro (8-2; 6-0 BIG EAST) – one of the top candidates for BIG EAST pitcher of the year – allowed just three hits and one earned run (plus one unearned) in 7.0 innings but the Irish had their chances, thanks to five walks and their 98th time hit-by-pitch this season.
Notre Dame had tied the game in the top of the 4th (2-2) but SJU’s Anthony Smith struck the decisive blow moments later, sending his third home run of the season over the leftfield fence to provide Varvaro and closer Craig Hansen with the one-run lead.
Junior lefthander Tom Thornton carried a 5-2 lead into the 8th but Chris Joachim stroked a 2-out, 2-run single into the right-center gap. The Red Storm then won the game with two outs in the 10th, vs. closer Ryan Doherty – as Greg Thomson was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on Joachim’s single to right-center.
Thornton allowed five runs on 10 hits and no walks in 8.0-plus innings, with a pair of strikeouts. He has issued just one walk in his past five starts, spanning 40 innings.
The Irish had roughed up starter Jim Wladyka, pushing home five runs in the first six innings. Matt Bransfield’s two-run single gave the visitors a 3-0 lead in the 4th while a Tony Langford single and passed ball brought home two more in the 6th.
Note: check back later tonight/tomorrow morning for full recap and updated notes for Sunday’s game (noon EDT/11:00 in South Bend), which can be seen live on CSTV … St. John’s will continue to provide the live GameTracker stats, with a link available at und.com.
Notre Dame 0-0-0 2-0-0 0-0-0 – 2 3 0
St. John’s 2-0-0 1-0-0 0-0-X – 3 7 1
Dan Kapala (L, 4-2) and Cody Rizzo.
Anthony Varvaro (W, 8-2), Craig Hansen (8; SV, 10) and Joe Burke.
Home Run: Anthony Smith, SJU (solo in 4th; 3rd of season).
Notre Dame 0-0-1 2-0-2 0-0-0 0 – 5 8 1
St. John’s 0-0-0 0-2-0 0-2-1 1 – 6 11 0
Jim Wladkya, Justin Muir (6), James Lally (7), Craig Hansen (W 2-2) and Joe Burke.
Tom Thornton, Ryan Doherty (9; L, 1-3) and Cody Rizzo.
Doubles: Alex Nettey (ND), Sam DeLuca (SJU), Eddie Schultz (SJU).