Mar. 13, 1997

Notre Dame Cruises to 7-3 Win Over Creighton

SAN ANTONIO – Seniors Pat O’Keefe, Randall Brooks and Mike Amrhein all homered in the third inning and the Notre Dame pitching staff held Creighton to three hits overall and no runs in the final seven innings, as the Irish clinched a spot in the championship game of the Irish Baseball Classic with a 7-3 victory over the Bluejays in tournament action Thursday night at Wolff Municipal Stadium.

Notre Dame (7-6, 2-0 IBC) is assured of a spot in the four-team tournament championship game, regardless of how the Irish fare on Friday vs. Northeastern Illinois (4-8, 0-2). The winner of Friday’s Penn State-Creighton game 3 p.m.) will face Notre Dame in Saturday’s championship matchup (7 p.m.), with the loser facing the Golden Eagles in the 3 p.m. consolation game.

Sophomore righthander Brad Lidge (2-1) picked up the victory, despite some control problems that led to four walks and two hit batters. Lidge allowed just three hits and three runs (two of which were earned) over five full innings. Senior righthander Larry Mohs pitched the next three innings, recording three strikeouts and three walks, before freshman righthander John Corbin – in his first appearance for the Irish – took the hill for the ninth inning, when he ended the game with a called third strike.

Freshman righthander Mike Ziroli (0-1) took the loss, after failing to record an out on the first four Irish batters he faced in the third. Ziroli allowed five runs (four of which were earned) on five hits while allowing one walk and recording no K’s.

The Irish surged ahead thanks to a five-run sixth inning, with O’Keefe and Brooks taking an advantage of the short porch in left field (310 feet down the line). Sophomore shortstop Paul Turco led off the inning with a linedrive to centerfield – ending his 23 at-bat hitless streak – before O’Keefe lifted a ball well over the leftfield fance for the first home run of his college career. Brooks – who homered down the leftfield line earlier in the week vs. Texas-Pan American – followed with his second home run of the season, pushing the Irish ahead 4-3.

Freshman third baseman Brant Ust then walked – ending Ziroli’s day – before Amrhein drove a pitch from sophomore righthander C.J. Keating to deep left-center field, his third home run of the season and 26th of his career (two shy of fifth on the Irish all-time list).

The no-outs onslaught continued as sophomore DH Jeff Wagner reached on a throwing error by Bluejays shortstop Kenny Sarna. Freshman first baseman Jeff Felker followed with a perfectly executed hit-behind-the-runner single to right, moving Wagner to third. Keating then struck out Allen Greene and Felker stole second before senior J.J. Brock plated Wagner on what should have been an inning-ending groundout to second baseman Erik Lauritsen.

The Bluejays jumped ahead in the first, when Saura sent the second pitch of the game over the fence and just inside the leftfield pole. The Irish tied the game in the bottom of the inning, Ziroli hit leadoff man O’Keefe with a pitch and Brooks followed with an infield single that was smothered by Sarna. Ust’s flyout moved O’Keefe to third and Keeting’s errant pickoff throw to first base plated O’Keefe, with Brooks thrown out trying to advance all the way to third.

Creighton went back ahead in the second. Leadoff man John Bichelmeyer was hit by a pitch and Brian Smith then reached on a fielder’s choice, with Turco’s scoop to second baseman Brock coming too late to force Bichelmeyer. Troy Carley’s groundout to Ust advanced the runners and Sarna brought home the runner with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Penn State won Thursday’s earlier game 20-5 over Northeastern Illinois, while Creighton outlasted the Golden Eagles on Wednesday 4-1.

Penn State   210  000  000  -  3   3  3Notre Dame   106  000  00   -  7  11  1Ziroli, Keating (3) and Sladovnik (8). Lidge, Mohs (6) and Corbin(9). 2B - Notre Dame, Amrhein. HR - Creighton, Sarna (2), NotreDame, O'Keefe (1), Notre Dame, Brooks (2), Notre Dame, Amrhein(3). WP - Lidge (2-1). LP - Ziroli (0-1). Time - 2:45. Attendance- 600.