April 4, 2005
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Tony Langford’s second home run of the day capped Notre Dame’s five-run comeback in the bottom of the 9th but Johnny Defendis singled home the winning run in the bottom of the 10th (11-10), as Rutgers swept the Irish in a rare Monday doubleheader at RU’s Class of ’53 Complex. Jason Grover’s grand-slam home run earlier had lifted Rutgers on to a 5-3 win in the 7-inning opener.
Notre Dame (13-12, 3-3 BIG EAST) fell back in the conference standings while Rutgers (15-9, 5-1) kept pace with the league leaders.
Notre Dame now leads the series with RU 20-14 (the Irish had won the previous four meetings), with 18 of the games decided by 1-2 runs.
Junior centerfielder Alex Nettey hit safely in both games, extending his hitting streak to 14 games for the second-longest by an Irish player in the past four seasons, trailing only Steve Sollmann’s 15-game hit streak in 2003.
Notre Dame totaled eight runs in the doubleheader and stranded seven on base in the tight opener (RU had just 2 LOB in game-1, while the Irish stranded runners in every inning but the 2nd).
Tom Thornton (2-4) was the tough-luck loser in the opener, after retiring the first nine batters he faced. The junior lefthander worked out of a based-loaded jam by allowing just one run in the 4th but he failed to duplicate the feat in the 5th, as Grover hit the decisive grand slam. Thornton ultimately allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks in 5.0 innings, with one strikeout.
Senior righthander Aaron Kalb (3-1) went the distance to win the opener, striking out four Irish batters while allowing six hits and four walks. Junior righthander OJ DeChristafano allowed three unearned runs in 7.2 innings in the second game, striking out four ND batters while scattering five hits and two walks. He did not factor into the decision after the late Irish rally, as righthander Tim Woodhull (2-0) hurled a scoreless 10th to get the win.
Jeff Samardzija failed to recover from a rocky 1st inning in the nightcap, with the sophomore righthander going on to allow five runs on eight hits and a walk in 3.1 innings (three Ks).
The Irish nearly opened the day’s scoring in the 3rd inning of the opener but Greg Lopez was thrown out trying to score from second base on Nettey’s double down the leftfield line. Notre Dame then came back to score three times in the 4th, with Matt Edwards and Cody Rizzo both reaching on singles to the third baseman while Craig Cooper and Langford followed with RBI singles (plus an RBI groundout off the bat of Sean Gaston).
Todd Frazier’s bunt single produced the first baseunner vs. Thornton (in the 4th) and the bases soon were loaded, after walks by Jeff Grose and Colin Gaynor, before Rich Canuso’s double-play ball plated RU’s first run.
Cory Rodriguez led off the bottom of the 5th with a single to left-center and moved up when David Williams singled to the right-center gap. A throwing error on an attempted sacrifice bunt then loaded the bases and the 9-hole hitter Grover sent his first home run of the season into the brisk wind and over the leftfield fence for the final 5-3 margin.
Frazier’s leadoff double sparked RU’s early scoring in the nightcap, with Defendis later driving a two-run triple over the head of Nettey for the quick 4-0 cushion.
The teams traded runs in the next two innings – with the Irish scoring in the 2nd (on an error, a Cooper single and Langford’s sac. fly) while RU answered in the 3rd, when Gaynor doubled and scored on a Rodriguez single.
Notre Dame cut the lead to 5-3 with a pair of runs in the 4th, thanks to a dropped fly ball in the outfield that followed Rizzo’s two-out walk and Cooper’s double down the rightfield line.
One of Notre Dame’s five errors in the nightcap (with sophomore righthander Derik Olvey on the mound) preceded a 5th-inning home run from RU’s David Williams, who restored the four-run cushion (7-3) while gaining quick redemption for his own error in the outfield.
The hosts went on to add single runs in the next three innings – one each credited to Olvey, senior lefthander Scott Bickford and junior All-America closer Ryan Doherty – but the Irish would not go quietly, scoring twice in the 8th and then rallying to force extra innings with five runs in the 9th.
Matt Bransfield hit a leadoff single in the 8th and scored two batters later on Langford’s first home run of the season, as the freshmen leftfielder drove the ball over the wall where he had watched RU homer three times earlier in the day.
Notre Dame’s thrilling rally in the 9th included Nettey’s leadoff walk, a wild pitch, an RBI single up the middle from Edwards, a walk by Edwards and Steve Andres’ run-scoring double to the right-center gap (for a 10-7 game). Ross Bresovsky then sent a sacrifice fly to center field and Langford won a long full-count battle with lefthander Matt Putsay by again homering over the leftfield fence.
RU’s winning rally included three straight singles, by Ryan Hill, Steve Hook and DeFendis – who ended the game by driving the left-center gap for an opposite-field hit off the New Jersey native Doherty (1-2).
The past four seasons now have seen ND players combine for five hitting streaks of 13 games or longer: Sollmann (15 and 13, both in ’03), Nettey (14, in ’05), Andres (13, in ’04) and Steve Stanley (13, in ’02).
Notre Dame 0-0-0 3-0-0 0 – 3 6 1
Rutgers 0-0-0 1-4-0 0 – 5 6 1
Home Run: Jason Grover, RU (grand slam in 5th; 1st of season).
Doubles: Alex Nettey (ND), Brett Lilley (ND), Colin Gaynor (RU).
Notre Dame 0-1-0 2-0-0 0-2-5 0 – 10 9 5
Rutgers 4-0-1 0-2-1 1-1-0 1 – 11 17 2
Jeff Samardzija, Dury (4), Derik Olvey (4), Scott Bickford (7), Dan Kapala (7), Ryan Doherty (8; L, 1-2) and Gaston, Steve Andres (8).
OJ DeChristofano, Sean Spicer (8), Matt Putsay (9), Tim Woodhull (10; W, 2-0) and Gossard, Frank Meade (10).
Home Runs: David Williams, RU (1 on in 5th; 2nd of season); Todd Frazier, RU (solo in 6th; 7th of season); Tony Langford, ND (1 on in 8th; 1st of career); Langford, ND (1 on in 9th; 2nd of career).
Triples: Johnny DeFendis 2 (RU).
Doubles: Craig Cooper (ND), Frazier (RU), Colin Gaynor (RU), Jeff Grose (RU).