March 13, 1999
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The Notre Dame baseball team used another strong pitching performance to hang on to an early lead before defeating Creighton, 5-3, in the championship game of the fifth annual Irish Baseball Classic, Sunday afternoon at Wolff Municipal Stadium.
Notre Dame (9-6), which pushed its winning streak to five straight games, has won eight of its last 10 games while playing to several exciting finishes. All but one of the games during that 10-game stretch have been decided by 1-3 runs, with the Irish posting three one-run wins, one two-run win and three three-run wins (in addition to losses by one and two runs).
Irish veteran pitcher Scott Cavey (1-1)-a native of Omaha, Neb., and a graduate of Creighton Prep-worked the first five innings while allowing one run on four hits and one walk, with four strikeouts in the winning effort versus his hometown school. Fellow junior righthander John Corbin earned his second save of the season by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
Creighton (13-6)-which lost to the Irish 5-4 on Thursday despite carrying a 4-0 lead into the eighth inning of that game-made things interesting with a one-out, bases loaded situation in the top of the ninth. Corbin induced an infield popup from pinch hitter Scott Allen before Kenny Sarna’s infield single plated one run . But Vince Pietro grounded out to junior shortstop Brant Ust, ending the game. Bluejays lefthander Dan Gooris (3-2) took the loss, allowing five runs (four of them earned) on seven hits and two walks over six innings, with four Ks.
The victory avenged an 8-5 loss by Notre Dame to Creighton in the 1997 IBC championship game, a bitter defeat in which the Irish squandered an early 6-0 lead.
Irish sophomore righthander Aaron Heilman (Logansport, Ind.) was named tournament MVP, after tossing the complete-game victory over Creighton on Thursday (with 11 strikeouts, three earned runs and six hits allowed). Four other Irish players joined Heilman on the 13-player IBC all-tournament team: Stanley (.385, 5-for-13, 4 BB, 3-5 SB), Porzel (.353, 6-for-17, 3 RBI, 2 R), Bushey (.313, 5-for-16, 4 R) and junior lefthander Tim Kalita (win over Penn State, 8 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 10 Ks).
Notre Dame struck Saturday for three runs in the bottom of the first. Surging freshman center fielder Steve Stanley beat out a leadoff infield single to the shortstop and advanced to second on a single by freshman third baseman Andrew Bushey. The speedy Stanley then took third, with Bushey moving to second on the back-end of a double steal. Ust later was issued an intentional one-out walk, loading the bases, and junior DH Matt Nussbaum singled to second base, with a throwing error on the play allowing Bushey to score. Ust came home with the third run on a groundout to second base by junior leftfielder Jeff Felker.
The Irish tacked on another run in the second, behind freshman catcher Paul O’Toole’s leadoff double to deep center field, sophomore rightfielder Ben Cooke’s hustling play to beat out an attempted sacrifice bunt to the mound, and Stanley’s run scoring groundout that led to a double play.
Notre Dame built its lead to 5-0 in the third inning when sophomore second baseman Alec Porzel sent a 2-2 pitch through the left side of the infield. After an Ust strikeout, Porzel stole second and third before scoring when the catcher’s throw to third went wide and into left field.
Creighton scored its first run in the fourth, when junior third baseman Ryan Gripp stroked a solo home run to left-center field.
The Bluejays notched another run in the sixth, versus senior lefthander Chris McKeown (3 IP, 2 R, 1 H, 3 BB, 1 K). Peyton Lewis drew a leadoff walks and advanced to third on Dan Lawler’s single to right before scoring on a sacrifice fly from Ovid Valentin.
McKeown then walked Lawler to open the ninth, with Corbin then taking the mound. Valentin’s single put runners on first and second but Corbin struck out Bryon Bennet before hitting pinch hitter Troy Carley with a pitch, loading the bases for Allen and Sarna.
Notre Dame previously won the Irish Baseball Classic in 1996. Creighton won in 1997 and 1998′ tournament was canceled due to rain.
Other players named to the IBC all-tournament team included four Creighton players: junior 2B Vince Pietro (.385, 3 R), junior SS Kenny Sarna (.400, 2 RBI), junior 3B Ryan Gripp (.267, 3 HR, 6 RBI) and junior RHP Aaron Eisenring (1-0, 2 GP, 7 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 9 K). Penn State senior OF Dan Beers (.429, 4 RBI, 1 HR) and sophomore RHP Peter Yodis (1-0, 2 GP, 7.1 IP, no earned runs, 4 K) also were named all-tournament, as were two player from local team St. Mary’s (Texas) University: sophomore C Joseph Contreras (.538, 6 R, 3 RBI) and junior 1B Ross Beardsley (.471, 3 RBI).
Creighton 0-0-0 1-0-1 0-0-1 - 3 7 3Notre Dame 3-1-1 0-0-0 0-0-X - 5 8 1Gooris, Keating (7) and Smith. Cavey, McKeown (6), Corbin (9) and O'Toole.