May 7, 2000
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The last three weeks of the Notre Dame baseball season have provided the spectator with several unforgettable moments-ranging from an 18-strikeout pitching performance to game-ending tags at the plate and walkoff home runs-but rarely does one see a game like that staged on Sunday afternoon by the Irish and the visiting Pittsburgh Panthers, in the final game of their BIG EAST Conference series at wind-swept Eck Stadium.
When it was all said and done, Pittsburgh (29-20, 9-12 BIG EAST) had kept alive its fading chances at a spot in the six-team BIG EAST Tournament by posting a 22-18 victory over the Irish (40-13, 16-6), who still can claim the BIG EAST regular-season title with a sweep of Rutgers (17-3) next week (even with a win over Pitt on Sunday, the Irish still would have needed to sweep RU to claim the title).
The day’s sheer numbers-49 combined hits, 66 baserunners and 85 total bases-were enough to see several records tumble from the Notre Dame and BIG EAST record books. But there were several eye-popping individual efforts as well-led by Irish junior shortstop Alec Porzel (Lisle, Ill.), who became the first Notre Dame player ever to collect six hits in a game while hitting for the cycle, with the added feature of both a “traditional” and an inside-the-park home run.
The final four innings provided a rollercoaster of emotion, as Pittsburgh used five runs to claim a 12-5 lead in the sixth only to see the Irish score 13 straight (three in the sixth, five each in the seventh and eight) before the Panthers provided the final roar by posting a 10-spot in the ninth.
The game-tying play was a two-out, two-run flyball that potentially could have been the winning out for the Irish, but the ball fell untouched in shallow left-center field-between the backpedaling shortstop Porzel and the charging centerfielder Steve Stanley.
Here’s a breakdown of the particulars:
- The 40 combined runs are the second-most ever in a game involving Notre Dame and the most in 100 years-since a 34-7 win over Indiana on May 1, 1900 (a span of 2,985 ND games) … the 40 runs also rank as the third-most ever in a regular-season BIG EAST game.
- The 49 combined hits are the most in the seven-year history of Eck Stadium and were one shy of equaling the record for a BIG EAST game, trailing the 50 posted by Providence (30) and Connecticut in a 1999 game.
- Pittsburgh’s 30 hits tied the BIG EAST record set by Providence in its 25-18 win over UConn in ’99.
- The teams had a combined 66 baserunners (14 walks, two hit batters, one error) and set a BIG EAST record with 85 combined total bases (8 home runs, 2 triples, 8 doubles, 31 singles, the ’99 PC-UConn game had 83).
- 38 players were used in the game, including 22 members of Pitt’s 25-man travel roster and 13 pitchers (seven by Pitt).
- Six Eck Stadium records were set: runs by one team (22), combined runs (40), longest nine-inning game (4:06), hits by one team (30), combined hits (49), and RBI by one player (8, by Pitt senior OF Eric Katchur).
- The teams combined for 20 late-game runs in a span of 2 1/2 innings (28 in span of 3 1/2) … 30 of the 40 runs came during five half-innings (one 10-run, four five-runs).
- The eight combined home runs are second-most in Eck Stadium history (ND had five and Bowling Green four in a ’95 game).
- ND wrapped up an error-free series while Pittsburgh made just one error that led to one unearned run (39 of the day’s runs were earned) … ND entered the day ranked fifth in the nation with a 3.25 team ERA while Pitt ranked fifth in the BIG EAST with a solid 4.24.
- The Panthers sent 10 batters to the plate in the 3rd and 6th innings before totaling 16 plate appearances in the 9th.
- Pittsburgh totaled 39 baserunners, with 15 left on base and two erased on double plays.
- Sunday marked the first time in a game involving ND that both teams scored 17-plus runs (in the program’s 3,036 all-time games) … comparable games with high run totals from both teams were played in 1950 (an 18-16 loss at Chicago), in 1966 (a 17-16 loss at Georgia) and in the ’99 win over the University of Dallas (19-16, in San Antonio).
And on the individual side:
- A check through the ND baseball files reveals that Porzel is the first ND player to hit for the cycle since at least the mid-1980s (boxscore records are incomplete prior to ’85) … the addition of an inside-the-park home run to his “traditional” 1B-2B-3B-HR hitting cycle makes Porzel’s day one of the more unique accomplishments in baseball.
- Porzel opened the Pitt series by going 0-for-9 before winning Saturday’s nightcap with a walkoff home run in the 10th (11-8) … he is just the second known ND player to record five-plus hits in a losing effort (Dan Peltier went 5-for-7 in a 16-15 loss to Detroit at the 1989 MCC Tournament).
- Despite playing in 165 career games with the Irish, Porzel had registered four-plus hits just once previously: a 4-for-5 game earlier this season at UConn (April 2).
- Sunday marked just the second time in his ND career that Porzel has been credited with two home runs … his previous 2-HR game also was unconventional, as he hit one on May 19, 1999, and one the next day-in a rain-suspended BIG EAST Tournament game versus West Virginia.
- Porzel tied the BIG EAST single-game hit record, joining former Seton Hall players Dana Brown (vs. Villanova, ’89) and Josh Vath (vs. UConn, ’98) on that short list … his 15 total bases came three shy of the BIG EAST record, set by UConn’s Jeff Uccello in a 1996 game vs. Boston College (4 HRs, 2B).
- Pitt sophomore CF Stuart Rykaceski became the first player ever to total eight at-bats in a nine-inning BIG EAST game.
- Three players each collected two home runs, including a pair of blasts by Pitt 1B Brant Colamarino in the ninth.
- Four different Pittsburgh batters collected four hits: leadoff batter Rykaceski (4-for-8, RBI, 2 R), No. 5 hitter Colamarino (4-for-5, 6 RBI, 3 R), No. 8 hitter Katchur (4-for-7, 8 RBI, 2 R, 2 HR) and the No. 9 hitter, senior SS Chris Happ (4-for-6, 2 R).
- Lost amidst all the firsts and record-setting stats was the fact that Stanley extended his hitting streak to 18 games (28-for-59/.475)-equaling the longest by an ND player since Mike Amrhein’s 21-game streak in 1997 (current senior 1B Jeff Felker also had an 18-game streak, in ’99).
- Both teams plated two runs in the 1st, with Pitt’s Darrin Lenhart and Colamarino picking up RBI hits while Porzel had an RBI triple to right-center (one out, 0-2) and Brian Stavisky hit a sacrifice fly to center (Pitt sophomore LHP Eric Ackerman did not return for the 2nd).
- Pitt put five runs on the board in the 3rd, with the big blow coming on Katchur’s three-run shot to left vs. freshman starter J.P. Gagne (2.1 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 2 BB, 3 K).
- ND cut the lead to 7-4 moments later, vs. sophomore RHP Jeremy Rossi (4 IP, 6 H, 5 R, BB, 3 K) … Stanley beat out a two-out, 0-1 bunt between the first and second base bags before Porzel sent a 2-1 pitch to shallow left-center … the CF Rykaceski slid forward and to his right but the ball kicked past him and rolled to the warning track, with Porzel hustling all the way home (the throw arrived late and to the first-base side).
- Stanley’s two-out, full-count single through the left side plated Andrew Bushey for a 7-5 game in the 5th before the visitors posted another five-run inning in the 6th … Katchur again had the big hit, this time vs. sophomore Drew Duff (3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K), launching a 1-0 pitch to straight-away CF for his fourth HR of the season (junior RHP Danny Tamayo then took the mound) … the inning could have been worse, but the RF Stavisky bounced a throw home and senior C Matt Nussbaum dove across the plate to double up Rykaceski.
- ND began its comeback in the 6th, with Nussbaum’s leadoff walk, Paul O’Toole’s double to right and a three-run shot from freshman Kris Billmaier (his fourth HR in ND’s last 13 games).
- The Irish surged to a 13-12 lead with five runs in the 7th … Porzel-who had a two-out, first pitch single to CF in the 5th-got the cycle out of the way by leading off with a full-count double to the gap in left-center, vs. senior RHP Matt Shoemaker (1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 BB) … Stavisky then walked and O’Toole sent a one-out, 2-2 pitch from junior RHP Scott Schultz (0.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, BB) down the LF line (plating Porzel) … Billmaier sent the ball to the same area of the field on a 1-2 count, for an RBI double, before Bushey walked on four pitches and Matt Strickroth hit an RBI infield single to the right side … Ken Meyer plated the tying and go-ahead runs on a 1-2 count, with a single through the right side.
- ND seemingly put the game out of reach with a five-run 8th … Porzel registered his third two-strike hit of the game, leading off with his eighth home run of the season, to left vs. junior RHP Lou Kammermeier (0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER) … Stavisky’s linedrive then was dropped by a startled RF Katchur (for a three-base error) and Nussbaum followed with a double to LC … freshman RHP Adam Swavely (0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, BB) then served up Billmaier’s one-out RBI single through the left side and Bushey capped the big inning with an 0-1 shot over the RF fence (for his third HR of the season).
- ND senior RHP John Corbin (4-2)-who logged the final three innings to win Saturday’s nightcap-tossed the 8th and returned to the mound in the 9th, before being roughed up for eight runs (1.2 IP, 8 H, 2 BB) … Darrin Lenhart opened the inning with a first-pitch blooper to shallow right and Colamarino sent a 2-0 pitch over the CF fence, for an 18-14 score … pinch-hitter Corey Joyce struck out on three pitches but Doug Caraway placed a single down the LF line and Katchur sent an 0-2 blooper into right … Happ then sent a slow roller towards the SS Porzel but the Irish only had time for the forceout at 2nd … Rykacheski followed with another grounder and Porzel ranged forward and to his left but couldn’t reach the ball as it skipped onto the dirt, with another run scoring for an 18-15 game … Joe Lydic then loaded the bases with a four-pitch walk and a wild pitch moved the tying run into scoring position … Brad Rea followed with the flyball to shallow LC, producing a tie game when the potential game-ending out landed between Porzel and Stanley … pinch-hitter Joe Burger then walked on four pitches and junior LHP Mike Naumann took the mound, yielding Colamarino’s sixth HR of the season on a 1-1 pitch.
- Porzel collected his sixth hit of the night with a 1-0 single through the left side but senior LHP Kevin Lazeski (5-3) recorded a strikeout and two flyouts to end the wild game.
Ackerman, Rossi (2), Shoemaker (6), Schultz (7), Kammermeier (7), Swavely (8), Lazeski (8) and Caraway, Britt (9). Gagne, Duff (3), Tamayo (6), Corbin (8), Naumann (9), Viloria (9) and Nussbaum.