April 29, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Freshman righthander Jeff Samardzija snapped back into form by scattering five hits and no walks over seven innings while junior third baseman Matt Edwards matched his career-high with 5 RBI as the 8th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team shut out Manchester College, 10-0, in a Thursday-night makeup game at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (34-9) opened with two runs in the 1st before adding five in the 5th for a 7-0 cushion. Manchester (24-7) – ranked 23rd in the Division III coaches poll – loaded the bases in the 9th but freshman lefthander Matt Whittington rolled up a groundout to complete the shutout.
The Irish next are slated to complete a rare four-game midweek slate on Friday vs. IPFW (5:05) before taking an eight-day break from competition that will include two study days and final exams.
Edwards connected on a first-pitch blast in the 5th for his sixth home run of the season and first in his last 19 games, going the other way with a two-run shot over the rightfield fence that yielded a 7-0 lead. He earlier cleared the bases with a double to the left-center gap and also singled and scored in the 7th to complete his 3-for-4 night.
Samardzija (3-2) – who had his only subpar outing of the season on Sunday at Pittsburgh, just 24 hours after playing in ND’s Blue-Gold intrasquad football scrimmage – faced five batters over the minimum (26) while striking out three Manchester batters in an economical 81-pitch outing (11.6 pitches per inning) that lowered his season ERA to 2.28. If Notre Dame plays versus IPFW on Friday, Samardzija’s 43.1 innings pitched will fall just shy of qualifying him for next week’s NCAA statistical leaders (min. 1 IP per team game, with a 2.28 ERA ranking 48th in the nation last week).
Senior catcher Javi Sanchez ranks just seventh on the team with a .315 season batting avg. but he continues to be the team’s most clutch hitter, with team-best batting averages when runners are in scoring position (.420) and with two outs (.417). Sanchez faced one or both of those criteria on his first two trips to the plate Thursday and delivered the RBI both times, also boosting his 2-out batting with runners in scoring position to .458 (143 points above his overall avg.).
Sophomore Alex Nettey made his second straight start in center field and had a strong all-around game, batting 2-for-4 out of the 2-hole while making two of the top catches by a Notre Dame outfielder this season. Nettey’s first highlight-reel catch came in the 6th, when he made a full-extension catch to rob leadoff batter Scott Tarnowski in shallow right-center. Two innings later, Eric Screeton hit a ball that was headed for the fence in left-center – but Nettey raced into the gap and made a diving stab just inches off the grass.
Notre Dame’s first two runs came after junior Matt Macri (playing shortstop, with sophomore Greg Lopez again resting his sore back) was hit by a 1-0 pitch and moved up on a passed ball and stolen base before scoring on Matt Bransfield’s sacrifice fly. Junior righthander Ryan Wolfe later hit Steve Andres with a 3-2 offering and Sanchez sent the next pitch down the leftfield line for a double, with Andres motoring all the way home for the 2-0 lead.
The five-run 3rd included walks by Macri and Bransfield, Sanchez’s 2-out RBI single and another walk by Craig Cooper before Edwards drove a 1-0 pitch to left-center for the three-run double. Switch-hitting freshman Mike Dury – who drew the start at DH – then sent a run-scoring single through the right side as part of his 2-for-4 night.
Cooper opened the bottom of the 5th with a first-pitch double to left and Edwards smacked the next pitch over the leftfield fence for the 9-0 cushion.
NOTES: Edwards also had 5 RBI last season in the action-packed, 13-12 win at Creighton … senior 2B Tim Murray came off the bench to bat 2-for-2 with the game’s final RBI … the Irish extended the program’s 3rd-longest scoring streak to 127 games (also 356 of the last 357 and 599 of 603 in the Paul Mainieri era) … ND posted its 16th error-free game of the season … Macri – who posted his 6th error of the season Wednesday vs. Cleveland State (shortly after shifting to SS mid-game) – logged his 37th error-free game of the season.
MANCHESTER (24-7) 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 – 0 8 0
#8 NOTRE DAME (34-9) 2-0-5 0-2-0 1-0-X – 10 13 0
Ryan Wolfe (L, 4-2), Travis Sluss (3), Dan Sprunger (7) and Jared Kurtz.
Jeff Samardzija (W, 3-2), Matt Whittington (8) and Javi Sanchez, Nick Mainieri (8).
Home Runs: Matt Edwards, ND (1 on in 5th; 6th of season).
Doubles: Matt Macri (ND), Javi Sanchez (ND), Craig Cooper (ND), Edwards (ND), Alex Nettey (ND).