April 5, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Sophomore second baseman Alec Porzel (Lisle, Ill.)-who made a name for himself as a freshman with clutch RBI and timely home runs-became the latest Irish player to provide late-inning heroics, as his leadoff home run in the eighth inning helped complete Notre Dame’s eighth come-from-behind victory of the season, 6-4 over visiting Detroit in Monday afternoon action at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (21-7)-which posted its sixth straight win and 17th in the last 18 games-continued its string of coming through in the clutch, as the Irish have won 14 games this season by 1-3 runs (including five by one run and five by two runs). The team’s last six games alone have included three comeback wins (one in the final inning) and two others where the winning run was scored in the final inning.
The Irish remained unbeaten at home (7-0) while boosting their all-time record at Eck Stadium to 133-27, including 98-18 during the five-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri. The Irish are 61-9 in their last 70 home games.
Sophomore righthander Aaron Heilman (6-1)-who was pitching on just three days rest-lacked his usual dominance en route to his sixth straight victory. Heilman racked up nine strikeouts while allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits and two walks. Junior righthander John Corbin retired the side in the ninth (with one K) for his sixth save of the season, tying for third-most in Irish history (Mike Coffey had 10 in 1989 while Heilman had nine last season).
The game was the 95th between the former Midwestern Collegiate Conference rivals-representing the eighth-most common opponent in Notre Dame baseball history (the Irish lead the series, 50-45). The Irish next face their most-common opponent, Northwestern, on Tuesday in Evanston (3:00 p.m.). The teams will meet for the 129th time, with the Irish holding a 71-56-1 series lead. Tuesday’s game will be one of just two April games for the Irish away from home and the only one at the opponent’s field (Notre Dame and Michigan again will play at Old Kent Park in Grand Rapids, on April 20).
Detroit (4-14) claimed an early 3-0 lead before seeing the Irish chip away to forge a tie in the sixth. The Titans then took a 4-3 lead in the seventh but the Irish tied the game again in the bottom of the inning. Junior righthander Chris Andrzejak (1-4) took the loss, allowing five runs (three of them earned) on eight hits and one walk over the first seven innings.
Porzel-who went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs-gave the Irish a 5-4 lead by smacking a leadoff pitch over the leftfield fence for his fourth home run of the season and his third in the last eight games. Brant Ust then greeted junior righthander Tim Donohue with a 1-2 double into the leftfield corner and moved to third on Jeff Wagner’s deep foul popup to the first baseman.
The Titans then opted to bring on junior lefthander Jake Mathison to face the lefty Jeff Felker-who earlier in the day was named the BIG EAST Conference co-player of the week. But the junior first baseman came through with an opposite-field, full-count double to left-center, plating Ust as an insurance run.
The visitors struck for three runs in the second, thanks to three hits, two wild pitches, a passed ball and a fielding error on the shortstop Ust. Mike Daguanno stroked a leadoff double to the gap in left-center before moving up on a wild pitch and scoring on a passed ball. Roosevelt Morris then singled up the middle and Matt Gabrielli reached on a fielder’s choice, with Morris moving to second when Ust failed to field Gabrielli’s routine grounder.
Morris then stole third and Gabrielli took second on Heilman’s second wild pitch. Chris Karney capped the inning with a two-run single up the middle.
The Irish manufactured single runs in the third, fourth and fifth. Paul O’Toole stroked a two-out double in the third and took an extra base when leftfielder Matt Corbett bobbled the ball. Porzel then delivered an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Felker lifted a deep fly ball in the fourth, with centerfielder Aaron Cash dropping the ball as he attempted the running catch to his right. Matt Nussbaum followed the three-base error with a sacrifice fly to center, slicing the Detroit lead to 3-2. Porzel smacked a leadoff double to left-center in the sixth before coming home with the tying run on groundouts by Ust and Wagner.
DETROIT 0-3-0 0-0-0 1-0-0 4 5 2NOTRE DAME 0-0-1 1-0-1 1-2-X 6 10 2
Andrzejak, Donohue (8), Mathison (8),Wompler (8) and Gabrielli, Rumberger (8).Heilman and O'Toole.