April 11, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Freshman righthander Chadd Blasko tossed six solid innings while a balanced Purdue offense cashed in its chances at the pivotal times, as the visiting Boilermakers held off a late Notre Dame rally for a 7-5 victory Tuesday night at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (22-8) made two costly errors in the sixth inning, leading to three unearned runs that ultimately provided the margin of victory. Freshman righthander Matt Laird (3-2) suffered the loss, allowing five runs on eight hits during the first six innings.
Seven Boilermaker batters combined for 10 hits and five had RBI, with Purdue (19-12) staking an early 3-0 lead before stretching to cushions of 5-2 and 7-3 in the middle innings. Blasko (2-1) allowed three runs on eight hits and one walk while registering the game’s only strikeout during the first 7.2 innings of play.
The Irish plated single runs in the second, fourth and sixth innings-with senior first baseman Jeff Felker driving in each of those runs-before tacking on two more runs in the eighth.
Notre Dame was set to rally again in the ninth but senior righthander Andy Helmer came on for his eye-popping 10th save of the season.
Irish sophomore centerfielder Steve Stanley led off the bottom of the ninth versus junior lefty Ben Kaebisch with a 1-2 single up the middle and freshman rightfielder Brian Stavisky then delivered his first hit of the night, a 1-0 single through the right side of the infield.
Helmer then brought his 1.45 ERA and .175 opponent batting average to the mound, with Notre Dame’s top hitter-junior shortstop Alec Porzel-at the plate. Porzel worked to an 0-1 count before lining a shot towards the left side of the infield, with backup third baseman Brad Kriner snaring the ball and throwing quickly to second base for a huge double play (Porzel went 0-for-5, ending his career-best, 15-game hitting streak).
Sophomore DH Paul O’Toole-who had collected a pair of doubles and three runs scored earlier in the game-then worked to a 1-2 count and flared the next pitch down the leftfield line into foul territory before sending a groundball to the left of shortstop Mike Duursma, who made a tough fielding play before shoveling the ball for a forceout at second base.
- Laird hit leadoff batter Chris Walker with a 2-2 pitch in the 1st and Purdue cashed it in by putting two runs on the board … Blomberg followed with a single through the right side of the infield and stole second before Erik Frei’s groundout to the right side plated the first run … Nate Sickler then lifted a 1-2 sacrifice to center field for the 2-0 lead.
- ND tied the game with single runs in the 2nd and 4th … Blasko hit the leadoff batter O’Toole with a 2-2 pitch to open the 2nd, with senior C Matt Nussbaum’s groundout to the 1B advancing the runner … Felker then delivered on an 0-1 pitch, with a rare opposite-field hit through the left side … Nussbaum came to bat with one out in the 4th sending a 2-2 pitch through the left side and stealing second before taking third when the C Frei bounced the throw into CF … Felker’s 1-2 groundout to the 2B plated Nussbaum for a 2-2 game.
- A pair of ND errors led to three unearned runs in the 6th … Frei’s leadoff groundball was misplayed by the SS Porzel and Sickler then sent an infield single to Porzel on the left side … Daryl Hallada bunted the runners over before Nussbaum sailed an attempted pickoff throw over the head of sophomore 3B Andrew Bushey, with Frei scoring on the play and Sickler taking third … Daniel Underwood then tried a 2-2 squeeze bunt on the right side and Laird hesitated as Sickler scampered home before throwing too late to 1B … Luce’s groundout moved Underwood to second and Nick McIntyre capped the pivotal inning with a 1-2 single to left-center for a 5-2 lead.
- Controversy surrounded the end of the 6th, with ND poised for a big inning … O’Toole hustled to a leadoff double after smacking the ball through the right side and scored on Felker’s 1-0 single up the middle … Bushey then singled through the left side before sophomore DH Matt Bok sent a groundball up the middle … the 2B Blomberg ranged far to his right and flipped to Duursma-whose throw to first base was too late-but the base umpire had called an automatic double play, after ruling that Bushey had slid through the tag (prompting spirited objections from the Irish players and bench).
- Purdue added to its lead in the 7th versus junior LHP Mike Naumann, with Duursma lifting a leadoff double into the rightfield corner, followed by Walker’s full-pitch walk and a wild pitch (Walker held at first) … Blomberg’s flyout to right plated one run and Frei followed with a single through the right side … with Corbin on the hill, Frei stole second and Sickler’s groundout to Bushey plated Walker for a 7-3 game.
- ND kept battling in the eighth, with O’Toole stroking another leadoff double (this one down the rightfield line) while Nussbaum reached on Duursma’s dropped fly ball behind the 2B bag … rightside groundouts by Felker and Bushey advanced the runners (with O’Toole scoring) before sophomore pinch-hitter Ken Meyer parked a 1-1 pitch into the leftfield corner for an RBI double.
Blasko, Kaebisch (7), Helmer (9) and Frei. Laird, Naumann (7), Corbin (7) and Nussbaum.