April 30, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Paul O’Toole’s bloop single completed the latest dramatic victory in a season full of late-inning finishes, as the Notre Dame baseball team came back from an early 4-1 deficit to defeat visiting Oakland, 7-6, in non-conference baseball action Friday afternoon at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (34-11) pounded out 17 hits but still had to battle through the early innings, thanks to hitting into two infield doubles plays, stranding 12 runners and seeing two baserunners thrown out. The victory is Notre Dame’s 18th come-from-behind victory and its ninth one-run win of the season. The Irish also have won 13 times in their final turn at bat, including seven in the last inning.
The win was the 200th at Notre Dame for fifth-year Irish head coach Paul Mainieri, who also coached in his 897th career college game on Friday.
Oakland (15-17) pushed across four runs in the third inning before seeing the Irish surge to a 6-5 lead in the sixth. But the Golden Grizzlies scored in the eighth to force extra innings.
Irish sophomore righthander Aaron Heilman struggled in quest of his ninth win of the season. Heilman allowed six runs on eight hits and four walks over seven and one-third innings, with 10 strikeouts (one shy of equaling his career high).
Junior righthander John Corbin (7-1) faced just six batters over the final two innings, with one hit allowed, one strikeout and a double-play ball in the ninth. Corbin, who also leads the team with nine saves, has registered a decision or save in all but five of his 22 decisions while lowering his team-best ERA to 3.41 (plus 39 Ks in 37 innings).
Sophomore lefthander Jason Roberts (1-3) took the loss, after allowing the unearned final run. Roberts tossed four strong innings, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out four Irish batters.
Freshman DH Ken Meyer-who provided the decisive two-run single in Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Illinois Chicago-sparked the winning rally while making just his fourth start of the season. Meyer walked on four pitches to open the bottom of the 10th before hustling to third on Ben Cooke’s bunt single to the right side and Roberts’ ensuing error on the throw to first. Steve Stanley’s first-pitch groundout moved Cooke to second and O’Toole worked to a 1-1 count before sending a popup that fell between the shortstop and leftfielder.
Notre Dame opened the scoring in the first, on one of the game’s many two-out rallies. Alec Porzel singled through the left side on a full count and Brant Ust beat out a single to the third baseman before Matt Nussbaum extended his hitting streak to nine games with an RBI single to center.
Heilman retired the first two batters of the third inning before yielding three straight singles, a walk, a hit batter and a two-run flare to center field by Chuck Van Robays. Greg Rogers ignited the four-run rally with a single up the middle before Chris Kimball sent a chopper off the glove of third baseman Andrew Bushey. Kyle Simmons followed with a 2-2 single through the left side (plating Rogers) and Eric Paul walked on five pitches to load the bases. Heilman then hit Eric Hardin with a 1-2 pitch before Von Robays delivered his two-run hit.
The Irish plated a run of their own in the third, thanks to two-out singles through the infield by Porzel (left side) and Ust (hit-and-run to the right). Nussbaum then came through again, plating Porzel on a 1-2 single to left.
Oakland added a run in the fifth, with Simmons drawing a one-run walk before Paul sent a single down the line that landed a couple of feet away from reserve rightfielder Matt Strickroth. Hardin then brought Simmons home from third base with a sharp bouncer over the second base bag.
Notre Dame’s two-run fifth included a leadoff bunt single from Stanley, O’Toole’s full-count single to center, Porzel’s RBI single to left, a full-count walk by Ust and Nussbaum’s run-scoring double play.
The Irish surged to a 6-5 lead with run two runs in the sixth. Cooke drew a one-out walk on four pitches before stealing second and taking third on a balk. Stanley’s 1-2 single to center tied the game and O’Toole moved the go-ahead run to third on a first-pitch single up the middle. Stanley then scurried home when the catcher Van Robays couldn’t handle the final pitch on Porzel’s full-count walk.
Oakland rallied for a run in the eighth, with Van Robays drawing a leadoff walk. Kip Harris then single to center and Van Robays took third when the centerfielder Stanley ran past the rolling ball. Michael Bennon then walked on a full count to load the bases, ending Heilman day.
With the game on the line, the Irish called on sophomore lefthander Mike Naumann, who fooled pinch hitter Rick Green into looking at three straight strikes before Rogers tied the game with an 0-1 single to left-center. Harris tried to score from second on the play but Stanley lofted a throw up the third-base line, with O’Toole making what proved to be a game-saving tag on the sliding Harris for the third out.
OAKLAND 0-0-4 0-1-0 0-1-0 0 6 10 1 NOTRE DAME 1-0-1 0-2-2 0-0-0 1 7 17 1 Boesch, Roberts (6) and Van Robays. Heilman, Naumann (8), Corbin (9)and O'Toole.