June 5, 2005
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – Dan Kapala threw eight shutout innings, Craig Cooper drove in two runs and Notre Dame beat North Carolina 3-0 Sunday to eliminate the Tar Heels from this NCAA regional.
The Fighting Irish advanced to play top-seeded Florida later Sunday. Notre Dame will have to beat the Gators twice, including once Monday, to win the regional.
The Irish (38-23-1) might have a good shot if they get more outings like Kapala gave them.
The right-hander scattered eight hits in his longest outing of the season. He walked one, struck out two and was aided by three double plays. Notre Dame set a team record with 67 double plays this season, breaking the previous mark set in 2002.
Craig Cooper watches his two-run double sail into the left-center gap to open the scoring in the 4th inning vs. North Carolina (photo by Pete LaFleur).
The Irish also set an NCAA record when Brett Lilley was hit by a pitch in the first inning. Lilly became the 126th Irish player to be hit this season, breaking the previous NCAA record set of 125 set by Nevada in 1997.
But the mark didn’t help the Irish get by North Carolina (41-19-1). Solid pitching and clutch hitting did.
Following a 57-minute rain delay that forced Kapala (7-3) from the game, Mike Dury allowed consecutive singles to start the ninth. Then Ryan Doherty got the final three outs – two by strikeout – for his seventh save of the season.
The Irish scored all three runs with two outs.
Ross Brezovsky drew a rare walk – just his 17th of the season – with two down in the fourth. Greg Lopez followed with a single to left, then Cooper drove Daniel Bard’s pitch into the left-field gap, scoring both runners.
It was Cooper’s first hit of the regional, snapping an 0-for-9 hitless streak.
Alex Nettey opened the sixth by getting hit by a pitch, stole two bases and then scored on Lilley’s single that ricocheted off Bard’s glove.
Bard (7-5) allowed three hits and three runs in 5 1-3 innings. He also walked four, struck out five and hit four batters.