March 12, 2006
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Craig Cooper and Danny Dressman continued their hot hitting at the top of the lineup while Tom Thornton took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, leading Notre Dame to its third straight victory, 4-2 over Illinois, in Sunday night’s UTSA Baseball Express Collegiate Classic action at Wolff Stadium.
Notre Dame (5-5) – which joins the host Roadrunners as the only unbeaten teams at the six-team tournament – has scored first-inning runs in all three games at the UTSA Classic, after jumping out to a 2-0 lead on the Illini. Dressman’s double scored Cooper for the game’s first run and the junior leftfielder scampered home moments later for the two-run cushion.
Thornton held Illinois (5-5) to the pair of runs and struck out six of the 29 batters he faced while allowing six hits and no walks in 7.2 innings, with one other runner reaching as a hit batter. The senior lefthander located nearly 70% of his pitches for strikes (63 of 91) while totaling nine groundball outs to go along with the six Ks.
Dressman – who has hits in all seven games he has played in 2006 and leads the Irish with a .458 batting average (11-for-24) – had a hand in all of the Irish runs, adding a fourth-inning single that scored Steve Andres and Alex Nettey.
Joey Williamson, Mike Dury and Kyle Weiland combined to retire the final four Illinois batters of the game, with the freshman righthander Weiland rolling up the game-ending groundout for his third save of the season.
Illinois touched Thornton for a pair of runs in the eighth, with senior righthander Brian Bloomquist (1-2) suffering the loss after allowing four runs on five hits and one walk in seven complete innings (with five Ks).
Cooper (2-for-3) singled through the right side in Notre Dame’s first time at-bat, followed by Dressman’s opposite-field double to left-center on an 0-1 pitch from Bloomquist. The pitcher then threw errantly on Brett Lilley’s sacrifice bunt, with Dressman alertly scurrying home on the misplay.
Notre Dame’s second scoring sequence began with a five-pitch walk by the senior DH Andres before Bloomquist plunked the senior centerfielder Nettey with the next pitch. Cody Rizzo’s groundout put two runners in scoring position and Bloomquist hit another senior, first baseman Cooper, with an 0-1 pitch – before Dressman again went the other way, plating two runners with his single to left field.
Notes – Since facing an 8-0 midgame deficit vs. Minnesota, the ND pitchers have combined for a 2.31 ERA during the past 39 innings (10 runs allowed in that stretch) while holding the opponents to 21 hits and a .158 batting avg. (21-for-183) in that span of four-plus games … Thornton has 14 Ks and just one walk this season (in 17 IP), dropping his career walk avg. to 1.94 BB per 9 IP (still 7th-best in ND history) … Irish pitching coach Terry Rooney always places a premium on low walk totals from his staff and the ND pitchers had a high walk total (11) in Friday’s win over Texas A&M – before issuing no bases on balls in the past two games (with just one HBP in those 18 innings, well offset by 17 Ks in that span) … Dressman and Cooper both are batting 7-for-12 (.583) on the trip, with Dressman either scoring (4) or driving in (8) nearly half of the team’s 25 runs in the first three games at Wolff Stadium … the ND batters have totaled nine HBPs in the past two games (after only six HBPs in the first eight games of ’06) … the steady play of Dressman and freshman infielder Jeremy Barnes has allowed the Irish to essentially utilize an 11-man starting lineup through 10 games this season (those 11 players each have started 6-9 games) … Barnes already has made starts at shortstop, DH (2), first, second and third base … Nettey’s bobble of a double in the right-center gap allowed an Illinois batter to take an extra base, producing ND’s only error of the trip and just the team’s ninth E all season (only four of those have been made by starting position players).
Illinois (4-5) 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-2-0 – 2 5 2
Notre Dame (5-5) 2-0-0 2-0-0 0-0-X – 4 6 1
Doubles: Danny Dressman (ND), Gaston (ND), Dave Schultz (IL).