Feb. 28, 1997
Four Home Run Day Powers Notre Dame Past No. 25 Arkansas
MILLINGTON, Tenn. — Sophomore righhander Brad Lidge (Englewood, Colo) picked up the victory in his first career start and freshman third baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) went to the opposite field for the first of four Notre Dame home runs as the Irish came from behind to defeat No. 25 Arkansas, 8-5, in second day action of the Service Academics Classic, held at the USA Baseball Stadium.
Notre Dame (3-3) received solo shots from Ust in the first inning and senior second baseman J.J. Brock (Colorado Springs, Colo.) om tje second before two more seniors – catcher Mike Amrhein (Oak Park, Ill.) and righfielder Justin Scholl (Athens, Ohio) – sent fourth inning shots over the fence in left-center field. After a one-out by Ust, Amrhein took a strike from Arkansas lefthander Mike Moriarty before launching a high changeup over the fence to push the Irish ahead 5-4. Scholl followed moments later with two outs, belting a first-pitch fastball that gave the Irish four home runs on their first six hits of the game
Lidge (1-0) scattered two hits and three walks over five innings while allowing four runs (all earned) and striking out two Arkansas batters. The win was the second of his career for the surging righthander, who has allowed just five hits and five walks in 10 innings this season.
Another sophomore righhander, Alex Shilliday (Dunwoody, Ga.) closed out the final two frames of the seven-inning game, allowing one run on two hits and a walk, while striking out two Razorback batters.
Arkansas fell to 8-3, despite jumping out to leads of 2-0 in the first and 4-3 in the third. The Razorbacks entered the day with a .377 team batting average and had been averaging nearly 14 runs per nine innings before running into Lidge and Shilliday.
Moriarty (2-1) had allowed no runs and just four hits in his first eight innings of work this season while picking up wins over Missour Southern and Okalahoma City.
The Irish played the final four innings without leading hitter Jeff Wagner (Louisville, Ky.), after the sophomore first baseman took a bad-hop grounder off his face. (Wagner entered the day with a .522 batting average and an .826 pct.) Notre Dame did welcome back sophomore shorstop Paul Turco (Sarasota, Fla.), who had missed the previous two-plus games with a hamsting pull, while senior Randall Brooks (Hazelcrest, Ill.) returned to center field after missing the Feb. 23 game vs. Mississippi and serving as DH in two games on the 27th (due to a quadriceps injury).
In addition to their big offensive days, Brock and Scholl made key defensive plays that squelched two Arkansas allies.
Arkansas made Lidge pay for several first-inning Irish mistakes, scoring twice on just one hit to take the early lead. Leadoff man Jason McConnel was hit by a pitch before Matt Erickson doubled to right field, with Scholl’s misplay allowing McConnell to score. Erickson then took third on a wild pitch and scored on Eric Hinske’s grounder to Turco.
The Irish answered in the bottom of the inning, when No. 2 hitter Ust took a strike before driving a fastball over the fence in rightfield. Notre Dame then surged ahead in the second, behind a one-out triple from freshman Jeff Felker (Ellicott City, Md.), and RBI groundout by sophomore leftfielder Allen Green (Seattle, Wash.) and Brock’s first home run of the season. After working to a 1-2 count, Brock smacked a changeup over the leftfield fence for a 3-2 Irish lead.
Arkansas reclaimed the lead with two outs in the third. Scott Ellis drew a leadoff walk, stole second and moved to third on a groundout before Erickson walked and Hinske lifted a sacrifice fly to shallow centerfield, with Randall Brooks’ throw bouncing home to Amrhein shortly after Ellis has crossed home plate. Lidge then issued his third walk of the inning to Ryan Lunquist, and Erickson and Lunquist completed the double steal. Jeremy Jackson then sent a hard grounder off the face of Wagner, who slumped to the ground as Erickson scored and Lundquist rounded third. But Brock alertly ran to the ball and fired home, with Amrhein tagging out Lundquist to end the inning.
Amrhein’s home run was his second in as many days and the 25th of his career, leaving him three shy of fifth place on the Irish all-time list (a spot currently shared by former teammates Tim Hutson, 19958-88, and Dan Peltier (1987-89). Amrhein also scored in the fifth to give him 133 career runs scored, just nine short of moving into 10th on that Irish all-time list. The 6-2, 200-pound righhander also ranks in the following Irish career batting categories: sixth in doubles (37), ninth in RBI (141), ninth in batting average (.353) and ninth in hits (190). Once he cracks the top-10 list in runs, Armhein will join Peltier and Erik Danapilis (1990-93) as the only players in the Irish career top 10 for batting average, hits, RBI, runs, home runs and doubles.
Scholl’s home run was his second of the season and gives him extra bases in exactly half of his 22 hits during the past two seasons (six home runs, five doulbes). He also came up with a big defensive play in the bottm of the inning, making a sliding catch on the rightfield line off a blast from McConnell.
The Irish pushed their lead to 7-4 in the fifth, when Amrhein hit a one-out single, advanced to second on an errant pickoff throw from catcher Brent Caldwell and scored on Felker’s two-out single to left.
Shilliday worked out of jams in the final two innings. Lundquist and Jackson hit one-out singles in the top of the sixth before Caldwell was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. A slow groundout by Jack Welsh plated Lundquist. Pinch hitter Brad Blankenship then had two strikes and fouled off three more pitches before Shilliday blew a fastball by the 6-3 righthander to end the rally.
Notre Dame 8, Arkansas 5Arkansas 202 001 0 - 5 4 1Notre Dame 123 011 x - 8 10 1Notre Dame: Lidge, Shilliday and Amrhein. Arkansas: Moriarity, Heather,Rodgers and Caldwell, Blanknship. 2B: Erickson (Arkansas). 3B: Felker(Notre Dame). HR: Ust (Notre Dame), Amrhein (Notre Dame), Scholl (NotreDame), Brock (Notre Dame).WP: Lidge (1-0). LP: Moriarity (2-1).