Feb. 28, 2003
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Junior lefthander Aaron Marsden struck out 10 Notre Dame batters in eight strong innings of work while senior centerfielder Jeff Leise sparked the Nebraska offense with an early home run and a two-run triple as the 16th-ranked Cornhuskers posted a 7-1 victory over the No. 14 Irish in first-day Metrodome action at the Dairy Queen Classic.
Notre Dame (2-3) failed to generate many scoring chances, with the Irish batters totaling six hits and no walks. Sophomore righthander Chris Niesel (0-1) suffered the first loss of his Notre Dame career, after being touched for six runs on nine hits and one walk in four innings (with two strikeouts).
Marsden (1-0) – one of the nation’s top-rated lefthanded pitching prospects – lived up to that billing by facing just 30 batters while allowing the one run on five hits and no walks. He struck out seven different Irish batters, with six of the Ks coming on called third strikes.
Liese put Nebraska on the board in the bottom of the first, with the lefthanded-hitting leadoff man sending a 2-1 pitch over the rightfield fence. One inning later, the All-American delivered again with two outs and two runners on – placing a 1-1 pitch down the rightfield line for a 3-0 Huskers lead.
Nebraska tacked on a run in the third and two more in the fifth before Notre Dame scored in the top of the sixth. Sophomore shortstop Matt Macri started the Irish scoring sequence with a two-out single through the left side of the infield, followed by senior rightfielder Kris Billmaier’s single to left and an RBI single to right-center off the bat of sophomore DH Matt Edwards.
Freshman lefthander Tom Thornton closed the game for the Irish with four solid innings, allowing an unearned run on three hits and one walk (with one K).
Billmaier (2-for-4) was the only Irish player to collect multiple hits and now is batting a team-best .435 for the season (10-for-23).
NOTES: Notre Dame continued to try new looks in the lineup, with freshman Cody Rizzo making his second start in CF while batting leadoff for the first time (Macri shifted into the No. 3 spot) … Edwards served as the DH with a LHP opposing the Irish … Niesel had been 22-1 in his previous 23 decisions (13-0 as a prep senior, 4-0 with ND, 3-1 in Cape Cod League and 2-0 in Blue-Gold Series games) … Thornton owns a 1.42 ERA in two outings with the Irish (6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, K) … junior 2B Steve Sollmann made a fielding error in the fourth inning, just his second E in his last 22 games with the Irish.
NOTRE DAME 0-0-0 0-0-1 0-0-0 – 1 6 1
NEBRASKA 1-2-1 0-2-0 0-1-X – 7 12 2
Chris Niesel (L, 0-1), Tom Thornton (5) and Javi Sanchez.
Aaron Marsden (W, 1-0), Jason Burch (9) and John Grose.
Home Run: Jeff Leise, NEB (solo in 1st, 1st of season).
Triple: Leise (NEB).
Double: Matt Hopper (NEB), Brandon Fusilier 2 (NEB), Drew Anderson (NEB).