March 24, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior third baseman Matt Macri and sophomore DH Matt Bransfield launched back-to-back home runs for the second time in the last four games as the Notre Dame offense racked up 30 baserunners en route to a 16-6 win over visiting Detroit, in Wednesday-night non-conference baseball action at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (14-3) – which had averaged just four runs in the previous six games, after averaging 13 rpg in the first 10 games – totaled 11 hits but had plenty of other baserunners, thanks to 12 walks, three players hit-by-pitch and four errors by the Titans. The steady on-base percentage continued a season-long trend that now has seen the Irish total a +23 ratio for combined walks (79) and HBPs (37; already nearly halfway to besting the team record of 75) minus strikeouts (93) – with ND’s team on-base percentage (.415) now more than 100 points higher than the team batting average (.309).
Macri and Bransfield both collected three RBI, with Macri and sophomore DH Steve Andres each adding three runs scored. Macri also walked three times, boosting his season total to 10 BBs to go along with a team-leading 22 RBI plus 22 hits and a .349 batting average.
Freshman righthander Jess Stewart (3-0) picked up the win in a planned rotation, after allowing one run on two hits and two walks over the first three innings. Five other pitchers also made brief stints to conclude Notre Dame’s midweek action, prior to the first BIG EAST series of the season at West Virginia.
Sophomore righthander Rob Galbraith (0-2) took the loss after allowing three first-inning runs (one earned) en route to tossing two innings. Galbraith surrendered just one hit but also walked four Irish batters and uncorked a pair of wild pitches.
Notre Dame flipped the top of its lineup, with senior second baseman Steve Sollmann moving back to the No. 2 spot (his first game not batting leadoff since early in the 2003 season) while freshman centerfielder Danny Dressman hit in the first spot. Both players opened the night with walks before Matt Edwards sent a groundball to the left side. Third baseman Alex Martin was in position to force out the lead runner but he misplayed the ball, allowing Dressman to reach third and scoot home for the early lead. Andres then walked to load the bases before Cody Rizzo and Macri added sacrifice flies for the 3-0 lead.
Mike Czerwieniec took the mound in the fifth, with Detroit facing a 4-2 deficit, but the junior lefthander hit Andres with a 1-0 pitch before serving up a pair of one-out home runs. Macri faced a 1-2 count but launched the ball over the leftfield fence for his third home run of the season. Bransfield then worked to a 3-0 edge before driving the ball over the fence in dead-center field for his own third homer of the season (each coming in the last four games). Macri and Bransfield also hit back-to-back home runs four days earlier, in the 8-4 loss at Southern Illinois.
Notre Dame continued its 8th-inning dominance by outscoring Detroit 5-1 in the second-to-last inning, with the Irish now owning a 21-5 scoring edge in the 8th.
Rizzo returned to action for the first time since March 9, with the sophomore rightfielder missing the previous six games due to a wrist injury.
Detroit (1-12) 0-0-1 0-0-0 4-1-0 – 6 7 4
Notre Dame (14-3) 3-0-1 0-3-4 0-5-X – 16 11 4
Rob Galbraith (L, 0-2), Joel Donlon (3), Mike Czerwieniec (5), Ben Darga (6), Dennis Czuchaj (9), Tim Poley (8) and Dustin Wiley, Andrew Brinkner (6).
Home Runs: Matt Macri, ND (1 on in 5th; 3rd of season); Matt Bransfield, ND (solo in 5th; 3rd of season).
Triples: Brennan Grogan (ND).
Doubles: Steve Andres (ND), Alex Nettey (ND), Greg Lopez (ND).