May 3, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The Notre Dame baseball team rode a complete-game from freshman Matt Laird and a seven-run second inning to win the opener, 9-3, then the Irish pitchers struck out 16 Oakland batters in the 5-3 nightcap–as Notre Dame swept a pair of seven-inning games from the visiting Golden Grizzlies in doubleheader action Wednesday at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (38-12)–which closes the regular season with six straight BIG EAST Conference games-crept closer to securing the Irish baseball program’s 12th consecutive season with 40-plus victories. By sweeping Pittsburgh on Saturday, the Irish would reach 40 victories in the second-fewest games in team history (trailing only the 1990 team, which opened 40-10).
Laird (5-2)-who registered the first complete game by a Notre Dame pitcher other than ace Aaron Heilman (who has seven)-scattered eight hits and two walks over the seven innings while posting six strikeouts and seven groundouts.
The Notre Dame batters were rude hosts to freshman lefthander Brent Brown, who prepped at nearby Brandywine High School. Brown (2-3) was touched for nine runs (seven of them earned) in the opener on eight hits and three walks during the first two innings, including a second inning that saw 12 Irish batters come to the plate.
Notre Dame opened the day with a two-run inning, thanks to Alec Porzel’s fifth home run of the season. The big seven-run second inning was highlighted by Jeff Felker’s two-out, two-run double-the 54th of his career (just seven shy of the Irish record). Matt Nussbaum’s single up the middle and Brian Stavisky’s double to left-center pushed the lead to 7-0 before a pair of Oakland errors produced two unearned runs to cap the big inning.
The high-scoring start was extra noteworthy for a Notre Dame team that had averaged just one run per game during the first two innings of the previous 48 games this season. In fact, the Irish had yet to score more than three runs in the first two innings prior to Wednesday’s nine-run explosion.
In the nightcap, Notre Dame again jumped on the Grizzlies early, scoring three runs in the first inning. The Irish got things going with four straight hits to open the game, with the big hit coming on a two-run, opposite-field single by the lefthanded Felker with the bases loaded. A third run scored on the play when catcher Chuck Van Robays throw to second sailed into center field, allowing Porzel to score.
The Irish extended their lead to four runs as freshman Kris Billmaier launched his third home run of the season to left field (Billmaier was playing in place of senior Jeff Perconte who missed the game to attend the Notre Dame Scholar-Athlete Banquet, where he was receiving the prestigious Byron V. Kanaley Award).
Oakland (19-28) plated two runs in the third versus Notre Dame starter Danny Tamayo on a wild pitch and an RBI single by Van Robays. The Grizzlies cut the lead to 4-3 in the fifth but were unable to tie the game versus Irish closer Jeff Corbin, who struck out five in two innings to earn his 11th save of the season-breaking the Irish single-season record previously held by Mike Coffery (10, in 1989).
Tamayo (1-0) earned his first win in more than two years, allowing two runs on one hit in three innings of work. The junior righthander-who was sidelined by an elbow injury that ultimately required “Tommy John” reconstructive surgery-walked four and equaled a career-best with seven strikeouts.
Notre Dame’s 16 strikeouts in the second game set an Eck Stadium record for most strikeouts thrown by one team, besting the 15 posted by the Irish during an 11-inning game versus Bowling Green in 1998.
Freshman righthander Kirk Anderson (0-1) took the loss in the nightcap, allowing five runs on five hits in four innings, with one strikeout and two walks.
Notre Dame returns to action Saturday with a noon doubleheader against BIG EAST rival Pittsburgh.
NOTES: Corbin (who extended his Irish record for career saves to 20) dropped his season ERA to 2.45 while his opponent batting average dipped to .205 … sophomore CF Steve Stanley hit safely in both games, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games (he had a 12-game streak in 1999) … Stanley’s streak is third-longest by an ND player this season, trailing streaks by Porzel (15 games) and freshman RF Brian Stavisky (14) … Stanley is hitting .467 during the 13-game streak (22-for-47), with 17 runs scored, seven RBI, seven stolen bases, six doubles (he had just three before the streak), six walks and just two strikeouts … he has raised his batting average during the streak from .307 to .348 (just shy of Ken Meyer’s team-leading .349).
Brent Brown, Justin Robertson (3), Kurt Spyke (5) and Chuck Van Robays. Matt Laird and Matt Nussbaum.
Kirk Anderson, Jason Roberts (5), Trevor Seyka (6) and Chuck Van Robays. Danny Tamayo, Matt Buchmeier (4), John Corbin (6) and Paul O’Toole.