Mar. 7, 1997

Balanced Effort Pushes Irish Past Southwest Texas 9-5; Schmalz Gets 23rd Win

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Eight Notre Dame starters picked up hits, and senior righthander Darin Schmalz (Barrington, Ill.) recorded his 32rd career victory as the University of Notre Dame baseball team overcame three deficits in a 9-5 victory over Southwest Texas State at Wolff Municipal Stadium.

Earlier in the day, Notre Dame (4-3) moved into the clubhouse at Wolff Stadium (home of the AA San Antonio Missions) in preparation for a 10-day series of games over the spring break. The Irish have made early-season trips to Texas nine times in the past 14 seasons, with this year’s trip including the third annual Irish Baseball Classic.

Southwest Texas (9-11) held leads of 1-0, 3-1 and 4-3, only to see the Irish respond in the bottom of the inning. Notre Dame tied the game in the first and sixth innings before surging ahead 8-4 after a five-run seventh.

Schmalz (2-1) faced 27 batters in seven full innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits and a pair of walks. His four strikeouts included three Bobcats batters who were caught looking (Schmalz now has 14 K’s for the season, with eight of them coming on called third strikes). The victory leaves Schmalz two shy of tying Paty Leahy (1990-92) for sixth on the Irish all-time wins short.

Senior righthander Danny Barrett (0-1) – the third of six Bobcats pitchers – suffered the loss after taking the mound in the seventh, when he allowed three runs on one hit and two walks while recording just two outs.

Notre Dame’s #7 and #8 hitters – sophomore leftfielder Allen Greene (SEattle, Wash.) and senior second baseman J.J. Brock (Colorado Springs, Colo.) – led the Irish with two hits each, while Greene was one of four Notre Dame players to score twice. Sophomore DH Jeff Wagner (Louisville, Ky.) encountered his most Bi opportunities of the season and responded by driving in three runs and scoring a fourth while senior catcher Mike Amrhein (Oak Park, Ill.) had two RBI (pushing his team-leading total to 12) and scored twice as well.

Greene opened the bottom of the seventh by legging out a hard-hit grounder to second baseman Casey Carter. the hit carried Carter to the right side of the infield and Greene made a final, lunging stride to just beat the throw. Brock moved Greene over with a sacrifice and, after a flyout by Paul Turco, Greene moved to third on a wild pitch. Barrett then walked the top two batters in the Irish order – senior centerfielder Randall Brooks (Hazelcrest, Ill.) and freshman third baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, wash.). Righthander Cody Rod then took the mound and issued a bases-loaded walk to Amrhein, who didnt’ take the bat off his shoulder while working to a full count before taking ball four.

Wagner pushed the Irish ahead 6-4 on a two-run linedrive single to left, with Amrhein and Wagner moving up on the throw. Freshman first baseman Jeff Felker (Ellicott City, Md.) followed with a grounder to shortstop Rey Arrendondo, who bobbled the ball and then threw it away, with amrhein and Wagner scoring on the double error.

Southwest Texas pushed across a run in the first, capitalizing on a strange sequence that included a chopper form Carter that was just out of Schmalz’ reach, a walk by Lane Ladewig (after falling behind 0-2) and an error by Turco on a grounder by Chad Spear.

The Irish answered in the bottom of the first, Brooks took a swig at the first pitch from righthander Stephen Paulson, sending a two-base shot that landed on the leftfield line. Ust struck out and Brooks stole third before Amrhein lifted a sacrifice fly to left field.

Both teams scored twice in the sixth. Ust hit a one-out single to right field before Amrhein smacked a first-pitch double off the leftfield wall, with Ust holding a third. Wagner then flew out to center, plating Ust and advancing Amrhein to third, and Felker battled back from an 0-2 count to smack a low shot through the left side, scoring Amrhein for a 3-3 tie.

The Irish capped their scoring in the eighth, behind a walk from Greene, a double by Brock and a sacrifice fly from Turco. Senior righthander Mike Balicki (Santa Margarita, Calif.) closed out the final two innings, allowing one run on one hit while striking out one Bobcats batter.

Amrhein now has 135 career runs scored, just seven short of moving into the Irish career top 10 of that list, at which time he will become the third player in Notre Dame’s career top 10 for batting average, hits, RBI, runs, home runs and doubles.

Notre Dame will return to Wolff Stadium on Saturday night for a 7 p.m. game vs. Penn State before playing Texas Pan American on Sunday (7 p.m.) and Monday (1 p.m. doubleheader). The Irish then will take Tuesday off before opening the Irish Baseball Classic on Wednesday, March 12, vs. Penn State (7 p.m.). The tournament continues for Notre Dame with 7 p.m. games against Creighton (March 13) and Northeaster Illinois (March 14).

Prior to the tournament’s consolation and championship games on March 15, Notre Dame will face Northeastern Illinois at noon, in hopes of making up one of the two games that were rained out last week in Milington, Tenn.

ResultsSouthwest Texas St.   100 002 101  -  5  7  2Univ. of Norte Dame   100 002 51-  -  9  10 2Paulson, McMurty (6), Barrett (7), Rod (7), Curry (8) andSeaman, Wickersham. Schmalz, Ralicki (8) And Amrhein. WP -Schmalz (2-1). LP - Barrett (0-1). Notables: Brooks (ND)2-for-4; Ust (ND) 2-for-3; Amrhein 2-for-2, 2 RBI; Greene2-for-3; Carter 2-for-4, RBI.