May 14, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Sophomore DH Ken Meyer (Fort Myers, Fla.) continued his strong play from the leadoff spot while junior righthander Danny Tamayo (Miami, Fla.) turned in an encouraging effort in the most important outing of his career, as 23rd-ranked Notre Dame clinched the No. 2 seed in the upcoming BIG EAST Tournament with a 10-6 victory over 18th-ranked Rutgers on another high-wind afternoon Sunday at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (42-14, 18-7 BIG EAST)-which became the second Irish team ever to post 42-plus wins in the regular season (the ’90 team went 44-10)-scored four times in the second inning while posting single runs in every other inning but the fifth, with Meyer pacing an 11-hit attack on his 3-for-4 day. Meyer-who hit .447 in the final 13 BIG EAST games of the season-had a hand in six of Notre Dame’s 10 runs on Sunday, with a pair of RBI and four runs scored.
Tamayo (2-0)-who missed all of the ’99 season due to injury before undergoing “Tommy John” reconstructive surgery-logged a career-best five innings while limiting the potent Rutgers lineup to three runs on five hits and four walks, with one strikeout. Tamayo had pitched just 27 career innings prior to Sunday but could be used in a starting role later this week if the Irish advance late into the BIG EAST Tournament.
Notre Dame-the only BIG EAST team to win every conference series this season-will play in Wednesday’s middle game at the six-team BIG EAST Tournament, which will be held at minor-league Somerset Ballpark in Bridgewater, N.J. The Irish will play in a 3:30 p.m. (EDT) game vs. No. 5 seed Boston College (12-11), which blew a three-run lead in the ninth on Sunday before losing to Pittsburgh in 10 innings (6-5). The win allowed Pittsburgh (11-13) to slide past West Virginia (10-12) into the sixth and final playoff spot (the Panthers will face Rutgers in the noon game).
Seton Hall (18-7) used an 8-3 win over St. John’s to finish tied with Notre Dame for second in the BIG EAST standings, but the Irish receive the No. 2 seed based on the head-to-head tiebreaker (ND swept a pair at SHU on April 2, 11-5 and 5-1). The third-seeded Pirates-who posted a 10-1 conference record after the losses to Notre Dame-will play in Wednesday’s late game (7:00 p.m.), versus No. 4 seed Connecticut (14-9).
Thursday’s BIG EAST Tournament schedule includes the following: RU-Pitt loser vs. ND-BC loser (noon), RU-Pitt winner vs. SHU-UConn loser (3:30), and ND-BC winner vs. SHU-UConn winner (7:00).
Sunday’s win could prove to be the clinching factor in Notre Dame being selected as an NCAA Tournament home site for the second straight season. The NCAA selection committee is scheduled to announce the 16 home sites on Monday at 3:00 p.m. eastern.
Rutgers (35-15, 18-5) failed to match Notre Dame’s steady run production but the Scarlet Knights staged a late rally versus senior righthander John Corbin, with RU scoring three runs in the eighth before putting a runner on base in the ninth.
Irish sophomore righthander Matt Buchmeier tossed two key innings of middle relief, facing just eight batters while allowing one hit and posting three Ks.
Senior righthander Jim Wilson (4-2) took the loss after failing to get out of the fourth inning. Wilson-who posted an impressive five-hit win over the Irish last season-was touched for seven runs (five earned) on seven hits and five walks during 3.2 innings of work.
Notre Dame leftfielder Matt Nussbaum-one of seven Irish seniors who were honored before the game-posted his first three-hit game of the season while scoring once and driving in two other runs.
- The teams traded single runs in the earlygoing, with Meyer’s leadoff, 2-2 single sparking the Irish in the 1st … Steve Stanley then bunted Meyer to third and Jeff Felker drew a one-out walk before Nussbaum delivered an RBI single to left … RU then tied the game on Joe Cirone’s infield single up the middle, Mike O’Brien’s four-pitch walk, Ken Ulrich’s sac. bunt and Matt Wolski’s RBI groundout.
- Brian Stavisky opened ND’s big 4th inning with a walk before Wilson hit Paul O’Toole with the next pitch … the Irish then pulled off the double steal but Wilson induced a pair of infield popups-only to see four runs come home with two outs … Meyer next sent an 0-1 pitch up the middle (plating both runners), followed by a passed ball and Stanley’s walk … junior shortstop Alec Porzel then lifted a ball into the strong wind and his counterpart Darren Fenster backpedaled on the ball before letting the tough play drop from his glove, allowing a pair of unearned runs to score (the LF Cirone also was close to the play but Fenster called him off).
- ND stretched to 6-1 in the 3rd, after singles from Nussbaum and Stavisky, a wild pitch, O’Toole ‘s full-count walk and Andrew Bushey’s double-play groundout … RU answered with two in the 4th, sparked by O’Brien’s two-out single and helped by a mental error from the 1B Felker-who broke towards the mound on a chopper from Ulrich, with nobody covering 1B (Tamayo had a shot at making the play and flicking the ball to Felker) … RU then cashed in the mistake with RBI singles from Wolski and Brian Ciemniecki.
- The Irish extended to 9-3 with single runs in the 4th, 6th and 7th … Porzel singled to RC with two outs in the 4th, moved up on Felker’s full-count walk and scored on Nussbaum’s single down the LF line (ending Wilson’s day) … Meyer walked on four pitches to lead off the 6th vs. sophomore LHP Tom Crohan before moving up on Stanley’s bunt single to the right side (on a sac. attempt) and flyballs from Porzel (to left) and Felker (to center) … O’Toole collected his second home run in as many games, sending a 2-1 pitch that narrowly eluded jumping RF Todd Speedy for O’Toole’s seventh home run of the season and third in the last six games.
- RU jumped all over Corbin in the 8th, as Cirone led off with his 8th home run of the season (to left) before O’Brien walked on a full count and scored on Ulrich’s double to LC … Corbin then induced a groundout from Wolski before Val Majewski went down swinging on a 3-2 cut fastball … the third run scored after David DeJesus’ single through the left side and a failed pickoff move, as the 1B Felker was caught off-guard on a knee-high throw from the catcher O’Toole.
- The glaring sun helped ND plate the day’s final run, as the CF DeJesus bailed out on Meyer’s drive near the warning track (DeJesus ironically had asked for his sunglasses just moments earlier) … Porzel then picked up the one-out RBI, with a double to left vs. junior RHP Eric Brown.
NOTES: The BIG EAST title ultimately came down to results vs. the lower-tier teams, as the Irish lost to Villanova, St. John’s and West Virginia (RU swept three from both SJU and WVU but was rained out of a DH vs. Villanova) … ND posted a 6-2 record vs. the other top-four finishers (RU was a combined 4-5 vs. ND, SHU and UConn) … the Irish have won 17 of their last 19 BIG EAST series, with a ’99 series loss to SJU and a ’99 series tie at RU … in five BIG EAST seasons, ND has posted 35 series wins, with just five series losses and four series ties … ND’s BIG EAST series history at Eck Stadium includes 19 series wins, three series losses and one series tie (the Irish have won their last nine home BIG EAST series, since dropping a series to SJU at the end of the ’98 season) … the first 10 regular-season games between the teams had featured alternating winners, with the Irish now owning the only back-to-back wins in regular-season meetings between the teams (RU still holds a 7-6 series edge, thanks to a pair of wins in the ’98 BIG EAST Tournament) … ND’s final two wins of the series ensured that the ’99 Irish squad (20-5) remains the only BIG EAST team ever to post more than 18 conference wins in a season … Felker now strands alone in 4th on the ND career games played list (220) while his 212 career starts are 5th, just one behind ’97 grad. Mike Amrhein … ND has homered in eight straight games and has totaled 24 HRs in the last 16 games (pushing the season total to 46) … Stanley swiped his 27th base of the season (7th-best in ND history, just one behind Matt Haas’ ’93 total) … Stanley now is tied for 6th on the ND list for sacrifice bunts in a season (12, two shy of the record) … Porzel collected his 20th double of the season (tied for 7th in ND history) … during the past two seasons, O’Toole has posted impressive numbers in 24 games during the month of May: 35-for-88 (.398), 8 HRs, 3B, 7 2Bs, .773 slugging, 25 RBI, 25 runs, 5-8 SBs, 5 BB and just 5 Ks … in 16 career May games at Eck Stadium, O’Toole is hitting .458 (27-for-59) with .915 slugging (7 HR, 3B, 4 2B), 18 RBI and 19 runs .. the Irish are 26-4 this season when hitting at least one home run and 25-4 when scoring six-plus runs … Corbin’s 26 appearances this season rank 6th in the ND record book.
Wilson, Crohan (4), Brown (9), Molchan (9) and Ulrich. Tamayo, Buchmeier (6), Corbin (8) and O’Toole.