June 6, 2004
No. 1 seed Notre Dame vs. No. 3 seed Arizona
June 6, 2003 – 1:05 p.m.
Frank Eck Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
Today’s game was the eighth all-time meeting between the Arizona Wildcats and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. The ‘Cats lead the series 6-2, but the Irish had won the previous two meetings (13-5 in the opener of the 2003 Fullerton, and 4-2 in this season’s Round Rock Classic).
Today’s NCAA regional rematch (ND beat Arizona 4-2 on March 12 in the Round Rock College Classic) marks only the second time that Notre Dame has faced a team in the regular season and NCAA tournament in the same season. The 1999 Irish squad defeated Michigan in the regular season before dropping an elimination game to the Wolverines in the NCAA tournament at Eck Stadium.
In the first five games of the regional, teams combined for a total of four home runs. Today, Notre Dame and Arizona combined to hit seven balls out of the park.
The seven home runs hit match the second-most home runs in a game in the 11-year history of Eck Stadium. On April 2, 1994, Miami had five and Notre Dame hit a pair. The total was one shy of the stadium record of eight (May 7, 2000 when Pittsburgh and Notre Dame hit four each).
Eight of the game’s first 12 hits in the game (over the first six innings) went for extra bases (six home runs, one triple and one double).
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.
Today’s crowd of 2,103 was the second-most ever for an NCAA regional game at Eck Stadium, behind Friday’s Notre Dame-Kent State game (2,117). It was the seventh-largest crowd ever to watch a game at Eck Stadium.
In the six games of the South Bend Regional, the total attendance was 11,260, which established an Eck Stadium record for NCAA regional tournament attendance, an average of 1,877 per game. The previous record was set at the 2001 regional at Notre Dame, which drew 11,074 fans for seven games.
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).
ARIZONA TEAM NOTES
Arizona advances to the Super Regionals for the first time in school history.
Arizona has won an NCAA regional championship for the first time since 1986, when the Wildcats went on the win the national title.
Pitcher Koley Kolberg, shortstop Jason Donald, outfielders Derek Decater and Jeff Van Houten, and designated hitter Richard Mercado were named to the South Bend Regional’s all-tournament team. Kolberg, who was the winning pitcher on Friday against UC Irvine and picked up the save on Sunday, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
The Wildcats have won four games in a row and six of their last seven.
This marks Arizona’s 31st appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats are 51-35 in regional play since 1950, and 83-60 all-time in postseason play.
The Wildcats’ victory today is the latest win in a calendar year for Arizona since beating Florida State at the College World Series on June 6, 1986.
Jordan Brown and Moises Duran were the last Arizona players to hit back-to-back home runs (May 8 vs. UCLA), before Richard Mercado and Nick Hundley went back-to-back in the sixth inning today.
Since April 25, the Arizona pitching staff has given up four or more home runs in a game on five occasions (six at Washington on April 25, five at California on May 1, four at UCLA on May 8, seven vs. Stanford on May 16 and four in today’s game).
NOTRE DAME TEAM NOTES
Notre Dame concluded the season with a 51-12 mark, setting a school record for victories in a campgain. It eclipsed the 50 wins by the 2002 Irish squad that went to the College World Series. On Saturday, The Irish became the second team in the nation to reach the 50-win mark in 2004 (Texas, 52-13, was the first).
Pitcher Tom Thornton, first baseman Matt Edwards, second baseman Steve Sollmann and outfielder Steve Andres were selected to the South Bend Regional all-tournament team.
Notre Dame has now failed to win the NCAA regional tournament in three of the four times it has played host to it, advancing to the Super Regionals only in 2002.
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 40-39 all-time in tournament play. This year’s tournament appearance is the sixth consecutive for the Irish.
The last time Notre Dame played a team in back-to-back NCAA regionals was 1959-60 against Western Michigan, when regional matchups were geographically determined. The Irish beat Arizona 13-5 in the opening game of the 2003 Fullerton Regional.
The Notre Dame baseball program is 24-19 all-time when facing elimination in the NCAA tournament, including a 9-7 record during the Mainieri era.
Three of the last four times Notre Dame has been eliminated from the NCAA regionals, the Irish have fallen by a single run in the elimination game.
Notre Dame had won 16 of their last 17 games heading into the regional, but lost two of four contests to end the season.
The Irish drop to 38-6 on the year when scoring first in a ballgame with today’s loss.
Over the last four weeks (post-final exams), Notre Dame has hit 23 home runs in 19 games. They are 16-3 in those games.
Notre Dame’s 68 home runs on the season rank as the third-highest single season mark in Irish history, passing the 1997 Irish squad (66).
Today’s game marks the third contest since May 10 the Irish have hit four or more home runs in a game (four at UConn on May 10; five against Boston College on May 29 in the BIG EAST title game; four in today’s game).
Notre Dame’s all-time record for games played on June 6 drops to 10-3 with today’s defeat.
Today marked the seventh occasion Notre Dame has entered the regional final needing two victories over its opponent to advance. The Irish have never accomplished the feat, though they won the first game at Mississippi State in 2000 and Florida International in 2001 (at Frank Eck Stadium).
Notre Dame has won three games when facing elimination in an NCAA regional just once. The 1992 squad opened the Atlantic regional in Miami with a loss to South Carolina before defeating Miami, Delaware and the Gamecocks. The Irish were then defeated in the championship game by Miami, 5-1.
Today’s game marked the third time in four regional games this year that Notre Dame has been tied in the sixth inning or later (1-1 in the eighth against Kent State on Friday, 4-4 in the sixth against UC Irvine on Saturday and 6-6 in the seventh today).
ARIZONA PLAYER NOTES
Junior rightfielder Jeff Van Houten’s fourth-inning triple was his sixth on the year, and his team-leading fourth in non-conference play.
Sophomore first baseman Jordan Brown extended his hitting streak to seven games with his fifth-inning single. Over that stretch, he is 10-for-28 (.357) with six RBI.
With the win today, sophomore pitcher John Meloan improved to 9-0 this season.
Meloan’s nine strikeouts mark the fourth time this season the sophomore has struck out eight or more hitters.
The two home runs given up by Meloan push his season total to 15, tying him with Kevin Guyette for the team. This is also the fourth time in Meloan’s last seven starts that he has given up two or more home runs.
Freshman shortstop Jason Donald’s fourth-inning homer was his eighth of the year, and his first in his last 30 games, since a blast on April 3 at Oregon State.
Junior catcher Richard Mercado was 5-for-11 with five RBI and one home run in the series. His sixth-inning home run today was his fourth of the season, and his first of the year against a non-conference opponent.
Junior pitcher Koley Kolberg, who threw 99 pitches in a starting role on Friday night, made his third relief appearance of the year in the ninth inning today. He did not give up a hit in three innings of relief, while striking out six. He picked up his second save in the last week, after notching one against USC on the last day of the season.
In three relief appearances this season, Kolberg retired all nine batters he faced, striking out six of them.
NOTRE DAME PLAYER NOTES
Junior first baseman Matt Edwards’ two home runs and seventh-inning single raised his career average against Arizona to .750 (6-for-8), with seven RBI, two home runs, four walks and a bases-loaded triple (in the 2003 regional contest). Those home runs are the first two of his NCAA tournament career, and tied the Eck Stadium record for home runs hit in a game (done 13 times previously).
Edwards had only one hit in his last 14 at bats prior to his first inning home run against Arizona. Today, he was 3-for-3 at the plate, and his two long balls today mark his second multi-home run game – he also hit two against Florida Atlantic on February 28.
Sophomore centerfielder Cody Rizzo hit two home runs in this regional tournament after hitting only two during the entire regular season.
Prior to today, freshman righthander Jeff Samardzija had only given up just five earned runs in his last six appearances, for an ERA of 2.45 over that stretch. He gave up five earned runs in just 5.1 innings today.
In Samardzija’s first 17 appearances of the season, he had given up only one home run. He has given up four home runs in his last three appearances (two in relief against Virginia Tech on May 22 and two vs. Arizona).
Senior pitcher Joe Thaman gave up a home run today for the first time in his last six appearances (since Villanova hit two on April 3).
South Bend Regional All-tournament team
Most Valuable Player – Koley Kolberg, Arizona
Pitcher – Tom Thornton, Notre Dame
Pitcher – Koley Kolberg, Arizona
Catcher – Mark Wagner, UC Irvine
First Base – Matt Edwards, Notre Dame
Second Base – Steve Sollmann, Notre Dame
Third Base – Matt Sega, Kent State
Shortstop – Jason Donald, Arizona
Outfield – Steve Andres, Notre Dame
Outfield – Derek Decater, Arizona
Outfield – Jeff Van Houten, Arizona
Designated Hitter – Richard Mercado, Arizona