Mar. 25, 1997

Frye, Ust Pace 20-Hit Day As Irish Down Western Michigan, 16-6

Notre Dame, Ind. – Junior shortstop Todd Frye (Aledo, Ill.) responded in fine fashion to his third career start and freshman second baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) had a hand in five runs while coming a single short of hitting for the cycle, as the University of Notre Dame used its best offensive day of the season to defeat visiting Western Michigan, 16-6, in non-conference baseball action Tuesday at Eck Stadium.

Notre Dame (10-11) pounded out a season-best 20 hits while also scoring its most runs of the season. Frye led the way with a 4-for-5 day–nearly equaling his career total of five hits heading into the game–while Ust was one of three Irish players to collect three hits, joined by senior rightfielder Pat O’Keefe (Grand Ledge, Mich.) and senior third baseman J.J. Brock (Colorado Springs, Colo.).

Western Michigan (3-11) held early leads of 3-0 and 4-2 before the Irish seized control with five runs in the fourth inning and four more in the fifth. Sophomore lefthander John Stewart (0-4) took the loss, after allowing six hits and the five runs in the pivotal bottom of the fourth.

Irish senior righthander Mike Balicki (Santa Margarita, Calif.) picked up the victory to improve to 2-0 for the season, after holding the Broncos to no runs, hits or walks in two and a third innings of middle relief.

WMU opened the game with three runs vs. sophomore lefthander Chris McKeown, sparked by doubles from Brent Sachs and Kris Gundrum. The Irish chipped away with two runs in the second vs. righthanded starter Brad Block–highlighted by an RBI triple from sophomore Allen Greene (Seattle, Wash.)–before the Broncos stretched to a 4-2 lead in the top of the fourth.

Stewart took the mound in the bottom of the fourth and was greeted by a double to right-center from Ust. Stewart then hit Greene with a pitch before forcing freshman Jeff Felker (Ellicott City, Md.) to ground into a double play. The Irish then mounted a two-out rally, rapping out five straight hits to surge ahead 7-4.

Frye–starting in place of slumping sophomore Paul Turco–got things going with a single down the rightfield line, plating Ust, before Brock added another single to right, with Frye moving to third. Leadoff man O’Keefe’s single to center then scored Frye and Brock scampered home moments later on a wild pitch.

Senior centerfielder Randall Brooks (Hazelcrest, Ill.) kept the rally going with an RBI single before senior DH Mike Amrhein (Oak Park, Ill.)–who earlier had doubled in the third to extend his hitting streak to 16 games–singled to left for the fifth straight hit of the inning. Shortstop Jason Shelly then misplayed a grounder from sophomore Jeff Wagner, allowing Brooks to score the final run of the inning.

WMU scored twice in the fifth to chase McKeown from the game. But with runners on first and second, Balicki forced Ryan Ramsdell to hit into an inning-ending forceout at third base.

Notre Dame extended its lead with four runs in the fifth and went on to add two runs in the sixth, a run in the seventh and two more in the eighth. The highlights of the six-hit fifth included Ust’s leadoff triple to right-center, Frye’s two-run double that tucked inside third base before skipping down the leftfield line, and a smash from Brock that hit off the face of third baseman Andy Paulson, forcing him from the game.

The sixth featured Ust’s third home run of the season, a blast over the rightfield fence for his second opposite-field home run of the year.

O’Keefe’s double down the leftfield line plated Brock in the seventh. Ust–who reached on an error during his first at-bat of the game–came to bat in the eighth needing a single to hit for the cycle but drew a base on balls from lefthander Ryan Smoots. Frye later extended the inning with a two-out single before Brock plated two runs with a double to right-center.

Junior lefthander Pat Davis (San Antonio, Texas) closed out the win with two shutout innings, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out four WMU batters.

More than half of Notre Dame’s hits came from the #6-#9 spots, with Greene going 2-for-4 (three runs, one RBI), Felker 2-for-5 (one run), Frye 4-for-5 (three runs, three RBI) and Brock 3-for-4 (two runs, two RBI).

Ust scored four times in the win and continues to lead the Irish with 27 runs scored for the season. Amrhein’s 2-for-5 day leaves his batting average at .449 (ahead of the team record, .447, set by Edwin Hartwell in 1993). Amrhein’s double was the 40th of his career, moving him into sole possession of fifth place on the Irish all-time doubles list.

O’Keefe–whose .705 slugging pct. leads the Irish–remains second on the team with a .409 batting average and has hits in 16 of his last 38 at-bats since replacing injured classmate Justin Scholl as the starter in right field.