Mar. 9, 1997

Irish Rally in Ninth for Victory

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Sophomore leftfielder Allen Greene(Seattle, Wash) tied the game with a two-out single in the bottom ofthe ninth and senior second baseman J.J. Brock (Colorado Springs,Colo.) singled Greene home moments later as the Notre Dame baseballteam scored five times in the final inning to complete a stunning 5-4comeback over Texas-Pan American, Sunday night at Wolff MunicipalStadium.

The Irish comeback denied UTPA coach Al Ogletree his 1,200 careervictory but the veteran coach could get another shot at the milestonein a scheduled doubleheader Monday against Notre Dame. The veteranOgletree, now in his 41st overall season and 29th at UTPA, leads allactive Division I coaches with 1,199 career victories (699 losses).

Notre Dame (5-4) headed into the bottom of the ninth inningstaring a 4-0 deficit after being unable to solve freshman righthanderOmar Ortiz, who limited the Irish to three hits through the firsteight innings, with just one Notre Dame baserunner reaching secondbase.

The loss dropped UPTA to 12-10.

Senior righthander Mike Balicki (Santa Margarita, Calif.) pickedup the victory and his first decision of the season, allowing just onehit and no walks over the final three innings, with one strikeout. Another senior, lefthander Gregg Henebry (Clifton, Mass.), allowedfour runs (three earned) on seven hits and one walk through the firstsix innings with five K’s.

The rally helped the Irish avet their first scoreless game in thethree-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri (132 games). Freshmanthird baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) started things off with aone-out single to center field (the third hit of the game for thehighly touted rookie). Senior catcher Mike Amrhein (Oak Park, Ill.)then picked up his first hit of the night, working to a 3-0 count andtaking a ball before slapping a single into left field.

Sophomore DH Jeff Wagner (Louisville, Ky.) also got ahead in thecount vs Ortiz 2-0, before ripping a shot off Broncs third basemanT.D. Taylor, with Ust scoring as the ball rolled into left field,Amrhein holding at third and Wagner rolling into second with a double.

Freshman first baseman Jeff Felker (Ellicott City, MD) then platedAmrhein and advanced Wagner on a groundout to Taylor, cutting the leadto 4-2. With two outs, the Irish next turned to their unlikeliest ofheroes, junior walkon Dan Leatherman (Orland Hills, ILL.), who hadentered the game in the second inning as a replacement for seniorJustin Scholl. Leatherman – a tranfer from St. Xavier College who sawhis first Divsion I action in Saturday’s loss to Penn State – took astrike before sending a dipping shot to left field. UTPA’s Jeff Mooremade a break on the ball and dived forward to attempt to catch theball, but ball squirted out of his glove as hit the ground, withWagner scoring on the play to cut the lead to 4-3.

The Broncs finally lifted the tiring Ortiz in favor of seniorrighthander and eventual loser Richard Crenshaw (0-1). With senior PatO’keefe (Grand Lodge, Mich) pinch-running at first base, the bouncescontinued to go the way of the down-to-their-last-out Irish. Greenetook a pitch inside and then popped the ball into foul territorybehind third base. Taylor was running onto the ball near thewaist-high fence but appeared to misjudge the ball, as it bounced offhis chest and fell harmlessly away just as Taylor collided with theside-fencing.

Instead of being out of the game with a save, Crenshaw thenuncorked a wild pitch, moving O’Keefe to second base. Greene then laidoff a pitch that was high and outside before ripping a foul ball intothe leftfield bleachers. Facing a full count, Greene lined a shot intoright, with the speedy O’Keefe beating the throw from Matt Peters totie the game at 4-4.

The Broncs went to yet another senior righthander, RichardNavarro, but Brock drove a shot through the right side of the infield.Second baseman Matt Tosch ranged to his left, but could not make theplay and Greene, who had moved up to second on Peters’ earlier throw,scurried home with the game-winning run.

Ust’s 3-for-4 day extended his hitting streak to seven games andmoved the impressive freshman atop the Irish charts with a .485 seasonbatting average (16-for-33) just edging ahead of Amrhein (who is16-for-34). In his last six games, Ust has five multiple hit gameswhile collecting hits in 14 of his last 21 at-bats.

Balicki – who had solid outings in his earlier appearances thisseason vs. USC and Southwest Texas – had allowed just one run, twowalks and three hits in seven and one-thirds innings this season.

Notre Dame’s trio of newcomers – Ust, Felker and Leatherman -combined for five of Notre Dame’s nine hits, while scoring one run anddriving in two others. Freshman Jeff Perconte (Arlington Heights,Ill.) started at shortstop in place of sophomore Paul Turco.

The Broncs took a 1-0 lead in the third, after Moore’s one out tripleand a RBI single from Matt Siskowski. UTPA added to its lead in thefifth, with Sam Price reaching first base to lead off the inning,after Ust was handcuffed on a hard bouncer down the line. Price thenmoved up on a balk and wild pitch before scoring on a sacrifice flyfrom Jeff Pool. UTPA pushed across two more runs in the sixth, withSinkowski and Steve Redden doubling to open the inning before Tayloradded a run-scoring single to left field.

Texas-Pan American   001  012  000  --  4  8  1Notre Dame           000  000  005  --  5  9  2Ortiz, Crenshaw (9), Navarro (9) and Phillips.Henebry, Balicki (7) and Amrhein. 2B - Siskowski(UTPA) Redden (UTPA), Wagner (ND). 3B - Moore(UTPA). WP - Balicki (1-0). LP - Crenshaw (0-1).