April 23, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Senior righthander Peter Ogilvie had a strong outing in his first start since March 12 while a new-look Notre Dame lineup energized the sagging offense as the 16th-ranked Irish baseball team defeated visiting Cleveland State, 13-1, in Wednesday’s continuing midweek action at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (30-9), which is scheduled to play a makeup game versus IPFW on Thursday at The Eck (5:05 p.m.), reached 30 wins with single-digit losses for just the sixth time in team history, with only two previous teams – the 2001 squad (30-5-1, en route to claiming the No. 1 ranking) and the 1989 unit (30-8) – reaching 30 wins quicker than the current Irish squad (the 1990, ’94 and ’99 ND teams also went 30-9).
Cleveland State (7-20) had defensive problems all over the field, tying an Eck Stadium record with seven errors that led to three unearned runs.
The game had several highlights, with Ogilvie matching his career-high strikeout total (8) while combining with relievers Ryan Doherty and Martin Vergara (four each) to tie a team record for most strikeouts in an Eck Stadium game (16). Other trends continued for the Irish, with three runs in the second inning (pushing the season scoring edge in that frame to 54-8) and another big scoring inning, with seven ND runners crossing the plate in the bottom of the sixth (most of the rally coming with two outs). The Irish defense continued to sparkle, playing error-free for the 14th time this season despite several new players in the lineup.
Notre Dame’s 12-hit attack was led by five players with two hits each, including four hitting in the bottom five spots of the lineup. Senior centerfielder Kris Billmaier (3-for-4, 3 RBI, 2 R) had a hand in five of the Irish runs while junior catcher Javi Sanchez (2-for-3, 2 RBI, 2 R) factored into four of the runs.
Those two players were the only members of the starting lineup with more than 50 career games played on the college level, as the Irish started five freshmen, first-year junior walk-on Tim Murray and sophomore infielder Matt Edwards (who missed most of ’02 due to injury).
The Irish coped with the absence of junior second baseman Steve Sollmann and his .399 batting average, as his 11-game hitting streak is on a day-to-day hold due to a sprained wrist. Notre Dame also elected not to play sophomore shortstop Matt Macri, with freshman Greg Lopez sliding over from third while Murray filled in at second. Edwards headed across the diamond to third, with freshman Matt Bransfield earning the start at first (the outfield remained Billmaier in center, with freshmen Brennan Grogan and Cody Rizzo respectively in left and right, plus their classmate Steve Andres at DH).
Edwards, Bransfield and Murray rounded out the two-hit players, with Lopez driving in two runs from the 9-hole while Rizzo scored twice and added an RBI from the No. 2 spot (Grogan made his first start at leadoff).
Ogilvie (1-2) – whose only work in six weeks had been two relief innings last week versus Eastern Michigan, while returning from a sore shoulder – picked up the win in a controlled pitch-count rotation, allowing one run on four hits and one walk in his 4.1 innings of work.
Doherty continued his impressive midseason surge, striking out four of the five batters he faced in 1.2 innings of work. The 7-foot-1 righthander is averaging 16.2 strikeouts per nine innings pitched (27 Ks in 15 IP) and has been fairly dominant since a rough debut in the season opener versus Dayton, when first-game jitters and a tight strike zone helped lead to five runs allowed by the rookie on four hits and two walks while recording just two outs (with no Ks).
Since that rough debut, Doherty has not allowed an earned run (three unearned) in seven outings and 14.1 innings, with a .128 opponent batting average (6-for-47) and nearly a 7-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (27/4) during that stretch. His overall ERA continues to drop (3.00), with the best opponent batting average on the staff (.192) and just six total walks, one wild pitch and one hit batter.
NOTES: ND’s three-run 2nd included four errors (2 UERs), a hit batter and just on hit (Sanchez’s one-out, two-run double to left-center) … six hits, another hit batter and a walk led to the seven-run 6th, with Sanchez hitting a leadoff single and stealing second before the big 2-out rally that included Rizzo’s first-pitch single to right, Edward’s double down the leftfield line, Andres getting hit with a pitch, Billmaier’s two-run double down the leftfield line, a two-run single by Bransfield into the left-center gap, pinch-hitter Mike Holba’s walk and Murray’s RBI single to right-center … the game marked ND’s 17th “big win” (margin of 5-plus runs) this season, just four shy of the entire 2002 total of 21 big wins … the 12 hits were the most by ND in seven games (since the 17-game win streak ended vs. EMU) and just the team’s second double-digit hit total in that stretch … the Irish entered the week ranked 27th in the nation for fielding pct. (.970) and that number went up to .971 with the errorless game (the Irish have totaled just 44 Es in 39 games) … ND now has totaled 15 “big innings” (5-plus runs) this season (12 in the last 19 games), with Wednesday’s seven-run inning bested only by nine-run explosions this season vs. Arizona State, Georgetown and Detroit … five of the big innings now have come in the 6th (most of any inning), followed by four big innings in the 2nd … the Irish also posted 16 Ks earlier this season vs. Western Michigan (12 by John Axford, 4 by J.P. Gagne), with the mark first set in a 2000 game vs. Oakland (7 by Danny Tamayo, 4 by Matt Buchmeier, 5 by John Corbin) … ND entered the week 27th in team ERA (3.55), with that number now down to 3.41 … Ogivlie’s previous 8-K games came with considerable more outs to play with, in 2002 games at Seton Hall (8 IP) and vs. Boston College (9 IP).
Cleveland State 0-0-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 – 1 6 7
Notre Dame 0-3-0 2-1-7 0-0-X – 13 12 0
Matt Kaltenbach (L, 4-3), Bob Ohmer (6), Brian Legan (8) and Doug Besozzi, Jon Skelley (7).
Peter Ogilvie (W, 1-2), Ryan Doherty (5), Martin Vergaga (7; SV, 1) and Javi Sanchez.
Triples: Kolin Kelly (CSU).
Doubles: Matt Edwards (ND), Kris Billmaier (ND), Javi Sanchez (ND), Tim Murray (ND), Gian Testa (CS).