March 26, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior catcher Javi Sanchez factored into five of Notre Dame’s eight runs as the 22nd-ranked Irish posted their sixth win in the last seven games, 8-5 over Purdue, in non-conference action Wednesday night at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (13-6) claimed an early 1-0 lead before using three 6th-inning runs to retake the lead, 6-3. Purdue (10-7) – which had seen games vs. the Irish canceled in the previous two seasons – pushed across two runs in the seventh but could get no closer.
Freshman lefthander Tom Thornton – whose stellar ERA now stands at 1.10, in 16.1 innings – had another strong outing, allowing just one earned run (two unearned) in five frames, with two strikeouts and five hits allowed. Sophomore righthander Tyler Jones (1-0) was the pitcher of record after logging the sixth and starting the seventh, with the senior trio of Matt Laird, Brandon Viloira and J.P. Gagne then closing the game.
Gagne retired all three batters he faced in the ninth, on a strikeout and pair of groundouts, to record his fourth save of the season and 10th of his career (tied for fifth in ND history). In the process, the former weekend starter joined former Notre Dame greats Chris Michalak (’93; 34-14, 12 saves) and Aaron Heilman (43-, 12) as the third Irish pitcher ever to total 20-plus wins (23) and 10-plus saves in his career.
Sanchez scored four runs and drove in a fifth whole batting 2-for-3 with a double and walk. Sophomore shortstop Matt Macrio (2-for-3, run) added his second consecutive multi-hit game while freshman leftfielder Cody Rizzo continued his recent hot streak by batting 1-for-2 with two RBI and two runs scored (plus a double and walk).
The win leaves ninth-year Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri (699) on the verge of the 700-win milestone for his 21-year career as a college head coach.
Junior righthander Jason Driscoll (3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 Ks) had no decision for Purdue – with the second reliever of the game, senior righthander Matt Skriosky, taking the loss in one-plus innings of work.
Singles from Sanchez and Macri led to the first Irish run, with Rizzo adding the sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead heading into the third. The Irish later matched Purdue’s two runs in the fourth, yielding a 3-3 tie. Kris Billlmaier hit a leadoff single to center and scored on Sanchez’ double to the left-center gap, ending the night for Driscoll. A pair of groundouts and a wild pitch from lefthanded reliever Trae Dauby then allowed the tying run to score for the Irish.
Notre Dame’s three-run sixth included a costly infield error on shortstop Mitch Koester (one of four Purdue errors, with the Irish adding three) and singles from Macri and Rizzo to end the night for Srkipsky. Freshman pinch-hitter Craig Cooper then delivered an RBI groundout and Joe Thaman pulled off the squeeze bunt, with Rizzo showing his athleticism and body control as he vaulted past the catcher.
The pair of insurance runs in the eighth were courtesy of a Sanchez walk, Macri’s sac. bunt, a surprising steal of third by Sanchez, another RBI groundout from Cooper and Steve Sollmann’s run-scoring single to right field.
Notes: Gagne (2-3, 4 SV) has a decision or save in all nine of his outings this season … Sollmann’s 11th multi-hit game of the season boosted his season batting average to .367 but the surging Rizzo (6-for-10 in the last three games) is not far behind at .358 … freshman CF Brennan Grogan (0-for-5) saw his nine-game hitting streak come to an end.
Purdue 0-0-1 2-0-0 2-0-0 – 5 7 4
#22 Notre Dame 0-1-0 2-0-3 0-2-X – 8 9 3
Jason Driscoll, Trae Dauby (4), Matt Skripsky (5; L. 0-1), Brent Coudron (6) and Ben Fritz.
Tom Thornton, Tyler Jones (6; W, 1-0), Matt Laird(7), Brandon Viloria (8), J.P. Gagne (9) and Javi Sanchez.
Doubles: Javi Sanchez (ND), Johnstone (PUR), McIntyre 2 (PUR).