March 28, 2002
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (3/28/02) – Paul O’Toole’s three-run blast capped Notre Dame’s five-run rally that forced extra innings and Javier Sanchez delivered the go-ahead double in the top of the 10th, as the Irish baseball team averted a West Virginia sweep with a 10-6 victory Thursday at Hawley Field – after dropping the opener of their BIG EAST doubleheader, 4-2.
Notre Dame (10-10, 1-4 BIG EAST) overcame yet another injury to a starting position player, as junior outfielder and preseason first team All-American Brian Stavisky missed most of the doubleheader after being hit in the head with a third-inning pitch (he did not suffer a concussion but was hit on the cheek, with his status to-be-determined).
West Virginia (11-9) opened the nightcap by pushing across five first-inning runs and took a 6-1 lead into the seventh inning before the Irish rallied to tie the game. Three straight two-out walks – by Sanchez, sophomore first baseman Joe Thaman and sophomore DH Steve Sollmann (on a full count) – loaded the bases before senior centerfielder Steve Stanley ripped the next pitch past the third-base bag for a two-run single and a 6-3 game.
O’Toole then took a first-pitch strike and tied the game with a linedrive home run down the rightfield line, the senior catcher’s team-leading fifth home run of the season (including three in the last five games) and the 25th of his career.
The winning rally included senior leftfielder Ken Meyer’s leadoff single back to the mound, Kris Billmaier’s sacrifice bunt and a full-count walk from freshman Matt Macri, who made his debut in the field at second base. Sanchez then drove a 1-0 pitch to the left-center gap, plating two runners, and Stanley added a run-scoring groundout while a wild pitch forced home the final run.
Seniors Drew Duff and Matt Buchmeier combined with freshman winner Martin Vergara (2-1) to log nine strong innings of relief, limiting WVU to an unearned run on five hits and three walks during that stretch (with eight strikeouts). Duff pitched the 2nd-7th innings while Vergara faced just 11 batters over the next three innings and Buchmeier closed out the win.
West Virginia ace Billy Biggs (4-3) picked up the win in the opener, as the junior righthander held the Irish to the pair of runs on six hits and two walks (with five Ks). Freshman righthander Grant Johnson (2-3) suffered the loss, after allowing three runs on nine hits and five walks over four and one-third innings (with five Ks).
Notre Dame’s next BIG EAST series will be played on Saturday at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda, Md., with the Irish facing Georgetown in that 11:00 a.m. doubleheader (moved up from the original noon start time).
Notre Dame 2-0-0 0-0-0 0 - 2 6 0West Virginia 0-0-1 1-1-1 X - 4 11 0Grant Johnson (L, 2-3), Matt Laird (5) and Paul O'Toole.Billy Biggs (W, 4-3) and Trent D'Amico.Doubles: Steve Stanley (ND), O'Toole 2 (ND), Mike Frownfelter (WVU).
Notre Dame 0-0-0 1-0-0 5-0-0 4 - 10 8 0West Virginia 5-0-0 0-0-1 0-0-0 0 - 6 11 1J.P. Gagne, Drew Duff (2), Martin Vergara (7, W, 2-1), Matt Buchmeier (10) andPaul O'Toole.Zac Cline, Clayton Ewen (7), Joe Van Gorder (9, L, 0-2), Jason DiAngelo (10), MartyFagler (10) and Trent D'Amico.Home Run: Paul O'Toole, ND (2 on in 7th, 5th of season, 25th of career).Double: Javier Sanchez (ND).