April 29, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame junior All-American Aaron Heilman posted his ninth consecutive winning decision in the 8-3 opener but St. John’s scored five late runs for a 6-4 win in the nightcap-as the Irish and Red Storm split a BIG EAST Conference doubleheader Saturday at Eck Stadium.
The games held major significance for both team’s postseason fortunes, with Notre Dame (35-11, 13-5 BIG EAST) remaining three games back in the loss column versus league-leading Rutgers (17-2), which played to a 5-1, 5-7 split at in-state rival Seton Hall. St. John’s (23-17, 6-10) kept alive its hopes for a spot in the BIG EAST Tournament, with the sixth and final spot occupied by idle Pittsburgh (8-10).
Heilman (9-1) continued his march to posting yet another of the more noteworthy pitching seasons in Notre Dame baseball history. He scattered seven hits and one walk in the seven-inning opener while registering his BIG EAST-leading seventh complete game of the season. Heilman’s nine strikeouts give him 94 for the season-already the fourth-highest in Irish history, just 22 shy of his own record set in ’99-and his career stats now include 290 Ks in 254.2 innings pitched (his career average of 10.25 Ks per 9 IP is best in Irish history). Heilman-who pushed his career record to 27-6-needs just 25 more Ks to join David Sinnes (’90-’93) atop the Irish career list.
Junior righthander Kevin Zaug dropped the opener, allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits and two walks over the first five innings, with two Ks.
Irish sophomore DH Ken Meyer enjoyed a 4-for-8 day from the leadoff spot, with triples in each game and two doubles in the opener (he now leads the Irish with a .358 season batting average and a .627 slugging percentage). Other key contributors to the opening win included senior first baseman Jeff Felker (3-for-4, 3 RBI, 2 R), senior leftfielder Matt Nussbaum (2-for-3, 3 RBI) and sophomore third baseman Andrew Bushey (3-for-3, RBI).
Senior righthander Scott Cavey had no decision in the nightcap, despite 7.1 strong innings that included three runs, five hits and two walks-plus five Ks. His classmate John Corbin (2-1) then allowed three runs on four hits and one walk-including the game-winning triple down the leftfield line by Charles Bilezikjian (on a two-out, 1-2 pitch).
GAME 2 SCORING RECAP
- Junior SS Alec Porzel took a 1st-inning, first-pitch offering from junior RHP Keith Stamler and sent it over the fence in right-center field (for his fourth home run of the season and the 24th of his career, 10th-most in Irish history).
- SJU tied the game in the 4th, thanks to Pete Graham’s four-pitch walk (he advanced on a groundout) and Mike Niksa’s first-pitch, run-scoring double to left-center.
- ND claimed its second of three leads in the 5th, sparked by sophomore LF Paul O’Toole’s leadoff double to right on a 2-2 count (he came around to score on successive groundouts to the pitcher by Bushey and senior 2B Jeff Perconte).
- Cavey returned to the mound in the 8th but had just one more out left in him … leadoff hitter Chad Cambra was hit with a 2-1 pitch and Bilezikjian followed with an 0-2 infield single to the SS Porzel … Chris Fallon then sent a comebacker off Cavey’s glove but the lanky righthander had trouble gathering the ball and had to settle for the force at first … Corbin took the mound and served up Graham’s 2-2, run-scoring groundout to the left side before Eric Potts’ gave SJU a 3-2 lead with his sharp single to right.
- The Irish answered right back, with Meyer poking a leadoff triple into the right-center gap (on a 1-2 count), followed by sophomore CF Steve Stanley’s double to left-center and Porzel’s go-ahead single to right (4-3) … freshman LHP Tom Klemm (3-1) then took the mound and set down the Irish with a flyout, fielder’s choice and groundout.
- Corbin opened the ninth by walking Jason Kane on four pitches before Asa Grunenwald bunted the tying tun to second … Anthony Sutter knotted the game with a first-pitch double down the leftfield line before Corbin froze Cambra on a 2-2 pitch, for the second out … Bilezikjian then lofted a 1-2 pitch down the line and the RF Stavisky managed to get his glove on the ball, with the triple producing a 5-4 SJU lead … Fallon capped the scoring with an 0-2 single down the leftfield line.
- O’Toole tried to start a rally in the bottom of the 9th with a full-count walk but he was doubled up on Bushey’s hit-and-run popup to SS.
GAME 1 SCORING RECAP
- ND opened with a 1-0 lead, thanks to Meyer’s leadoff double to left, Porzel’s groundout and Felker’s single to left … Meyer sparked the Irish again in the 3rd with a leadoff double down the LF line, followed by Stanley’s sac. bunt (he reached when Stamler tried to throw out Meyer going to third) and a one-out fielding error by the 2B Cambra … Nussbaum’s first-pitch single to right yielded a 3-0 score.
- SJU sliced the lead to 3-2 in the 4th, with Niksa delivering a two-out, two-run single through the right side of the infield (scoring Bilezikjian and Fallon).
- The Irish pushed the lead back to three in the 5th, with a leadoff infield single by Porzel, Felker’s 1-2 single through the right side and Nussbaum’s sacrifice fly to left … Stavisky then was hit with an 0-1 pitch and Bushey singled up the middle for a 5-2 cushion.
- SJU’s final run came in the 6th, when Potts’ two-out single up the middle plated Bilezikjian … the Irish then greeted senior RHP John Nieblin with five hits and three runs (led by RBI singles from Stanley and Nussbaum’s and Felker’s run-scoring double).
NOTES: Seton Hall (11-7) stayed just two games behind the Irish while UConn (11-8) used a 4-3, 9-4 sweep at fading West Virginia (6-9) to boost its chances for the Huskies’ first appearance in the BIG EAST Tournament since 1994 … Boston College (10-9) stayed in 5th place with a pair of wins at 1-20 Georgetown (11-2, 21-5) while 6th-place Pitt (8-10) and 7h-place Villanova (7-10) are in the midst of bye weeks … Felker’s 53 career doubles rank 4th in Irish history, five behind former teammate Mike Amrhein (’93-’97) … in five BIG EAST seasons, ND has won 16 of 20 home league series (with one tie), with the losses coming to Rutgers and West Virginia (both in ’96) and SJU in ’98 … St. John’s is the only team to post a series win over the Irish in ND’s last 16 BIG EAST series (at the end of the ’99 season) … ND has played 38 all-time BIG EAST doubleheaders, sweeping 19 (with 18 splits, two opp. sweeps) … the Irish have played 30 straight BIG EAST doubleheaders-and 37 straight overall-without being swept (since dropping two at Seton Hall on May 22, 1997).
ST. JOHN'S 0-0-0 2-0-1 0 - 3 7 1NOTRE DAME 1-0-2 0-2-3 X - 8 14 0Zaug, Niebling (6) and Niksa. Heilman and O'Toole.
ST. JOHN'S 0-0-0 1-0-0 0-2-3 - 6 9 0NOTRE DAME 1-0-0 0-1-0 0-2-0 - 4 7 4Zaug, Niebling (6) and Niksa. Heilman and O'Toole.