Feb. 23, 2003
TEMPE, Ariz. – The 11th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team used a seven-run top of the sixth to claim an 8-4 lead but fourth-ranked Arizona State answered in the bottom of the inning with a two-out, nine-run rally as the Sun Devils emerged with the 14-8 win in Sunday afternoon action at Packard Stadium.
Defensive miscues by Notre Dame (2-2) proved costly, as three errors led to six unearned runs and provided ASU (21-1) with the margin of victory. The marathon game lasted three hours and 24 minutes, with the 16-run sixth taking nearly one hour by itself (0:53).
Notre Dame’s big sixth inning was sparked by junior second baseman Steve Sollmann’s leadoff double to the center-field wall, with Kris Billmaier’s RBI single and doubles from Joe Thaman and Javi Sanchez then chasing lefthanded reliever Mark Sopko from the game. Lefty Chris Beatty plunked Steve Andres with his first pitch and righthander Javy Lopez did not fare much better, serving up a Cody Rizzo single, a Greg Lopez sacrifice fly and Matt Macri’s two-run shot over the centerfield fence.
ASU snatched back the lead vs. senior closer J.P. Gagne, with heavy-hitting Jeff Larish igniting the two-out rally with a full-count walk. Junior DH Jeremy West – who homered twice in Saturday’s win over the Irish – then left the yard again (cutting ND’s lead to 8-6) before the Sun Devils claimed the lead with five more hits, three walks, a hit batter and a costly two-out error that led to five unearned runs.
Freshman centerfielder Cody Rizzo first put the Irish on the board in the top of the second, drilling a two-out, first-pitch offering down the line and over the leftfield fence. Andre Ethier provided the big hit in ASU’s four-run third, placing a 1-0 pitch down the leftfield line for a bases-clearing double. A pair of Irish errors then allowed ASU to cap the scoring with an unearned run.
Senior righthander Ryan Kalita allowed four runs (three earned) and four hits over the first 3.2 innings but six walks led to a high pitch count (100 pitches), bringing his classmate Brandon Viloria in from the bullpen. Freshman lefthander Tom Thornton had a solid debut, allowing one run on three hits and one walk over the final 2.1 innings.
ASU senior righthander Ben Thurmond – a transfer from Winthrop University – logged the first five innings for ASU, holding the Irish to one run on four hits. Junior righthander Ryan Schroyer closed the final three innings for his 12th career save (3 H, 2 Ks).
NOTES: Notre Dame’s seven freshman position players completed an impressive debut week (batting a combined .389, 21-for-54), including two home runs (a rarity in recent years for ND freshmen in the opening week) … ND already has fielded multiple CF starters, for the first time since the 1998 season (Steve Stanley started in CF during all 256 games from 1999-2002) … the ND pitchers averaged just 3.6 walks per 9 IP in 2002 but the Irish staff already has totaled 28 BB in 32 IP this season (7.9 BB per 9 IP) … the ND offense is off to a strong start (.367 batting average, 36 runs) … the ND starting pitchers have combined for a 4.35 ERA, .336 opp. batting avg. (22 H) in 20.2 IP (7 Ks, 12 BB) but the bullpen has been touched for a 19.06 ERA and .400 opp. batting in 11.1 IP (24 H, 4 K, 16 BB).
NOTRE DAME 0-1-0 0-0-7 0-0-0 - 8 13 3ARIZONA STATE 4-0-0 0-0-9 0-0-0 - 14 13 1
Ryan Kalita, Brandon Viloria (4), J.P. Gagne (6; L, 0-1), Tom Thornton (6) and Javi Sanchez.
Ben Thormond, Mark Sopko (6), Chris Beatty (6), Javy Lopez (6; W, 1-0), Ryan Schroyer (7) and Tuffy Gosewisch.
Home Runs: Cody Rizzo, ND (solo in 2nd; 1st of season); Matt Macri, ND (1 on in 6th; 1st of season); Jeremy West, ASU (1 on in 6th; 7th of season).
Doubles: Kris Billmaier (ND), Steve Sollmann (ND), Joe Thaman (ND), Javi Sanchez (ND), Andre Ethier (ASU), Jeff Larish 2 (ASU), Dustin Pedroia (ASU).