March 17, 2005
EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Greg Lopez’s two-run single was the key hit in an eighth-inning rally as the Notre Dame baseball team put seven on the runs while surging to a 10-6 win over Northern Illinois, in Thursday’s neutral-site game played at Evansville’s Braun Field.
Northern Illinois (3-0) plated three unearned runs in the third and took a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the eighth when Notre Dame (7-7) staged its decisive rally.
Senior lefthander Scott Bickford (1-0) picked up the second decision and second win of his Irish career, as the third of four relief pitchers used by the Irish. Bickford entered a 6-2 game in the sixth and hit the first batter he faced to load the bases before catching lefthanded batter Greg Larson looking at a third strike to get Notre Dame out of the jam. Bickford ultimately logged 2.1 shutout innings, allowing one hit and the hit batter while striking out two of the nine batters he faced.
Sophomore righthander Jeff Manship logged another pre-determined short start, allowing a run in 1.1 innings pitched. Junior closer Ryan Doherty set down the side in the ninth for his fourth save of the season (in five chances) and the 17th save of his Notre Dame career.
Sophomore catcher Sean Gaston (3-for-5, 3 R, RBI) paced Notre Dame’s 12-hit day while junior rightfielder Cody Rizzo (2-for-2, BB, HBP) and junior centerfielder Alex Nettey (2-for-4) also had multiple hits and Lopez collected a team-best three RBI.
NIU junior righthander Nick Hall logged seven solid innings, allowing just three earned runs and seven hits.
Notre Dame’s seven-run explosion saw the first five batters and nine of the first 10 reach base. Senior first baseman Matt Edwards led off with a single into right field and junior DH Steve Andres then pulled a single through the right side, ending Hall’s day and brining on Trevor Feeney as one of three relief pitchers used by the Aces in the inning.
Junior leftfielder Craig Cooper followed with an RBI single up the middle and the runners moved up on a wild pitch before Gaston singled into left-center for a 6-5 game. Rizzo then was hit by a pitch for the 52nd time in his career and Lopez came through with a one-out single into right, plating the tying and go-ahead runs for a 7-6 score. Nettey’s groundball brought home another runner (Evansville threw home trying to tag out Rizzo) and freshman second baseman Brett Lilley walked to load the bases. Edwards (one out) and Cooper (two outs) then were hit with bases-loaded pitches, pushing the lead to 10-6.
NIU had claimed a 4-3 lead with three unearned runs in the third, with Brian Toner’s two-run single up the middle plating two of the runs.
The Huskies used a double, walk and single to add a run and claim the 6-2 lead in the sixth, ending the day for sophomore righthander Derik Olvey and brining Bickford into the game for the key left-lefty matchup with Larson.
Northern Illinois (3-9) 1-0-3 0-1-1 0-0-0 – 6 9 0
Notre Dame (7-7) 0-1-0 1-0-0 1-7-X – 10 12 1
Nick Hall, Trevor Feeney (8), Mark Badgley (8; L, 1-3), Matt German (8) and Tug Gillingam.
Jeff Manship, Mike Dury (2), Derik Olvey (3), Scott Bickford (6; W, 1-0) and Ryan Doherty (9; SV, 4).
Home Run: Mike Santoro, NIU (solo in 5th; 4th of season).
Triple: Cody Rizzo (ND).
Double: Sean Gaston (ND).