June 4, 2004
Today’s game was the 13th meeting between Kent State and Notre Dame, but the first since 1968 and the first-ever in NCAA tournament action. The Golden Flashes now lead the series 7-6, including wins in each of the last four meetings, dating back to 1967.
The Golden Flashes were making their second appearance in three years at Eck Stadium. KSU played in the 2002 South Bend Regional, but did not face Notre Dame, losing to South Alabama and Ohio State.
This marks the fourth time since 1999, and the third in the last four years, Notre Dame’s Eck Stadium has played host to NCAA Championship action. This is the seventh time in school history that Notre Dame has hosted NCAA tournament play.
Notre Dame’s four occasions as a regional host since 1999 are eclipsed by only four teams: Miami (5), Florida State (6), LSU (6) and Stanford (6).
Game attendance was 2,117, marking the largest for an NCAA regional game at Eck Stadium, and the fifth-largest in stadium history (third-largest in 2004).
KENT STATE TEAM NOTES
Kent State has won 16 of its last 20 games.
Kent State is making its seventh all-time appearance in the NCAA baseball tournament. The Golden Flashes are now 6-12 in tournament action.
The Golden Flashes won their opening game in the NCAA tournament for just the second time. KSU defeated Georgia 5-2 in 1992 but went on to lose the next two contests.
Today’s win was Kent State’s first over a ranked opponent since March 16, 2003, a 5-3 win against #1 Georgia Tech.
Today marked the Golden Flashes’ first NCAA tournament win since May 26, 2001, a 12-11 win over Delaware in Columbus, Ohio.
NOTRE DAME TEAM NOTES
Notre Dame is making its 19th all-time appearance in the NCAA baseball tournament, and its seventh in the 10-year Mainieri era. The Irish are 38-38 all-time in tournament play. This year’s tournament appearance is the sixth consecutive for the Irish.
Notre Dame had won 16 of its previous 17 games before today’s loss.
The team’s 49 wins rank second in the nation, behind Texas’ 50. That total stands one shy of the 2002 squad’s school record of 50-18.
The Golden Flashes held Notre Dame scoreless for 6.1 innings to open the game, marking the second consecutive NCAA game in which the Irish went 6.1 innings without a run. Cal State Fullerton accomplished the defensive feat in last year’s 8-1 decision in the Fullerton regional. Those are tied for the longest scoreless drought to open a game for the Irish since Auburn beat Notre Dame 8-0 in the 1994 NCAAs.
Notre Dame fell to 28-5 in non-conference action this season. The Irish fell to 22-6 at Eck Stadium this season. They had won nine of their last 10 at home prior to Friday.
Today’s loss marked the first time a Paul Mainieri-led team lost the first game of an NCAA tournament. Notre Dame had won its opening game in each of its previous six appearances, dating back to 1996.
KENT STATE PLAYER NOTES
Senior first baseman Chad Kinyon’s fifth-inning single extends his career-long hitting streak to 21 games.
Sophomore righthander Andy Sonnanstine’s seven strikeouts marked the ninth time this season he notched seven or more strikeouts in a game.
Sonnanstine improved upon his season school records in strikeouts (117), wins (11), and innings pitched (123.0).
Kinyon and senior third baseman Matt Sega tied the Kent State single season record for games started today when both made their 61st starts of 2004.
Kent State sophomore pitcher Andy Sonnanstine’s fifth inning wild pitch was only his second of the season.
NOTRE DAME PLAYER NOTES
Junior pitcher Chris Niesel lost for just the fourth time in his career, dropping his career record to 21-4.
Notre Dame senior Steve Sollmann’s third inning double is just the second two-bagger in his NCAA tournament career (18 games). He was 1-2 on the day, improving his career NCAA batting average to .488 (39-80).
Notre Dame sophomore centerfielder Cody Rizzo’s fifth-inning walk was just his fourth free pass of the year. In comparison, he has been hit by pitches 20 times this season.
Irish sophomore shortstop Greg Lopez’s fifth-inning sacrifice bunt was his team-leading 10th in 2004.
This was the first postseason loss in an Irish uniform for junior pitcher Chris Niesel. In six postseason starts, he is now 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA.
Sollmann’s seventh-inning sacrifice fly was his 11th two-out RBI of the season.
Lopez’s two hits for Notre Dame marked the 13th multi-hit game for the sophomore this season.