April 17, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Paul O’Toole’s grand-slam home run sparked a nine-run third inning and seven Notre Dame pitchers combined to hold the Toledo offense in check, as the Irish baseball team closed its 14-game homestand with a sixth consecutive victory, 15-4, in Wednesday-night action at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (24-12) – which opened the season with 22 consecutive road games – now has won 15 of its last 17 games, with the Irish resuming BIG EAST play this weekend in a three-game series at Seton Hall.
Toledo (9-19) matched Notre Dame with 11 hits but the Rockets left 12 runners on base, compared to just four for the Irish. Notre Dame jumped out to its 12-1 lead while stranding just one baserunner in the first three innings, with a three-run first proceeding the nine-run third.
Freshman righthander Tyler Jones (1-0) picked up the win in his first career start. Jones logged the first three innings in a planned rotation, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks, with one strikeout. Five others pitched one inning for the Irish while junior righthander Ryan Kalita tossed the fifth and sixth.
Notre Dame sent 13 batters to the plate in the big third inning, with the nine-run outburst including five hits, three walks, a fieding error and a batter hit-by-pitch. O’Toole followed an RBI single from Andrew Bushey – who hit a grand slam in Tuesday’s 10-1 win over Ball State – by plating the next four runs, drilling an 0-1 pitch from Lovell over the fence in right-center field for his team-leading seventh home run of the season and the 27th of his career (good for 12th in Notre Dame history).
Sophomore righthander Adam Jackson then took the mound but the Irish added five runs, including a two-run double from senior DH Matt Bok.
Senior centerfielder Steve Stanley – now batting a robust .476 for the season – pushed his third double-digit hitting streak of the season to 11 games but technically saw his multiple-hit streak end at nine games. Stanley hit safely in his only official at-bat while drawing a base on balls in each of his other five plate appearances (it marked the first time he has walked more than twice in a game during his ND career).
Stanley – who scored three times versus Toledo and added an RBI on his single – now has hits in 34 of 36 games this season (and 41 of his last 43 games with the Irish) while striking out just three times in 170 plate appearances this season.
Eight different Notre Dame players registered hits – including a two-run home run over the rightfield wall by freshman infielder Geoff Milsom, who drove a 2-1 pitch from freshman lefthander Ryan Valek to make his first career hit with the Irish extra special.
Notre Dame’s surge in offensive efficiency has yielded three straight games with double-digit runs. The Irish have outscored their opponents 53-19 during the current six-game winning streak, with a .355 team batting average, 2.57 staff ERA and just nine errors in that six-game stretch.
Junior leftfielder Brian Stavisky hit 2-for-4 (leveling his season average at .400) and scored three runs while Bushey pushed his season average to .384 with a 2-for-4, 3-RBI game.
NOTES: Top hitters in the six-game winning streak include Stanley (.609), Bok (.467), Bushey (.391), Stavisky (.391) and Joe Thaman (.475) ? ND is slated to start freshnan RHP John Axford and junior RHP Peter Ogilvie in Saturday’s doubleheader at SHU (junior RHP J.P. Gagne or freshman Grant Johnson
TOLEDO 0-0-1 2-0-1 0-0-0 - 4 11 2NOTRE DAME 3-0-9 0-0-0 1-2-X - 15 11 1Ben Lovell (L, 1-1), Adam Jackson (3), Brian Kovacs (3), Ryan Valek (8) and Mitch Maier.Tyler Jones (W, 1-0), Scott Bickford (4), Ryan Kalita (5), Martin Vergara (7), Matt Laird (8), Matt Buchmeier (9) and Paul O'Toole, Brent Weiss (6).Home Runs: Paul O'Toole, ND (grand slam in 3rd, 7th of season, 27th of career), Geoff Milsom, ND (1 on in 8th, 1st of season).Triples: Andrew Bushey (ND), Javier Sanchez (ND), J.D. Foust (TOL).Doubles: Matt Bok (ND), Brian Stavisky 2 (ND), Taylor Eckel (TOL), Sean Dobson (TOL).