March 17, 2007
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Danny Dressman’s RBI triple and a two-run blast from Matt Weglarz highlighted the late-game hits, as the Notre Dame baseball team staged an 8th-inning rally to end its Spring Break trip with a 5-2 win over Dayton. The Irish (8-9) won four of their final five games during the 10-day swing through Florida, closing with a 3-1 record at Florida Gulf Coast University’s St. Patrick’s Week Classic. After opening the season with the always challenging travel stretch that this year featured spending 22 of 31 days on the road (including travel days) – while missing a minimal amount of class time – the Irish now will return to campus for a seven-game homestand.
Hot-hitting senior centerfielder Danny Dressman returned to the 3-hole and played a key role in the win, extending his hitting streak to five games while combining with leadoff batter Brett Lilley and 2-hole hitter A.J. Pollock to bat 6-for-13 with a pair of RBI, three runs scored, a hit batter and a sacrifice bunt from the 1-3 spots. Those three players accounted for six of Notre Dame’s eight hits, with Dressman (2 RBI, R) having a hand in three of the team’s five runs scored.
Pollock’s 2-for-5 game extended his hitting streak to seven games (longest by an ND player this season) while landing the freshman third baseman atop the team batting charts with a .360 season average, thanks to his team-best .419 batting average during the eight-game Spring Break trip.
Senior righthander Dan Kapala – who continues to be eased back to a full outing (as he returns from shoulder surgery) – pitched well enough to pick up the win, but he received no run support during his 4.0 innings while surrendering an early unearned run (he dropped his season ERA to 1.98). Kapala scattered four hits and a walk, adding a strikeout in his 63-pitch outing that included locating 38 pitches for strikes.
Brett Graffy followed with 2.1 innings of shutout relief before his fellow sophomore righthander Kyle Weiland (2-0) came on to record his second win in the past six days. Weiland’s strike ratio was well below normal (27, on 49 pitches) but the preseason BIG EAST pitcher of the year allowed just one run over the final 2.2 innings, after allowing three hits and a pair of walks (plus two hit batters, with a pair of Ks).
Dayton (6-10) scored an unearned run in its first turn at the plate, after loading the bases on Michael Massa’s leadoff walk, a fielders-choice groundout, Bobby Getty’s single to left field and a fielding error that wiped out a potential double-play ball. Joe McSoley’s shallow popup down the rightfield line then plated a run on a heads-up sacrifice fly sequence – as second baseman Ryne Intlekofer made the catch but fell to the ground after colliding with first baseman Mike Dury (who was shaken up and ultimately had to leave the game).
Notre Dame struggled with its offensive efficiency through the first seven innings, putting 11 runners on base but failing to bring any of them home – including a bases-loaded, no-outs situation in the 1st and two other chances that were wiped out by double plays. Lilley’s leadoff single then sparked the rally in the 8th, as the junior shortstop pulled a 2-1 pitch through the right side for his third hit of the game. Lilley was forced out on the ensuing groundball but the lefthanded-hitting Dressman promptly tied the game, jumping all over the next pitch from senior righthander Chris Rubio (2-3) and placing the ball down the rightfield line for his first triple of the season and the fourth of his career.
Rubio then issued an intentional walk to Jeremy Barnes, setting up the double play, but Ross Brezovsky’s groundball to the shortstop allowed the go-ahead run to score. With two outs and Brezovsky standing on second (due to the errant double-play throw and wild pitch), Weglarz ended Rubio’s day by reaching out for a 1-0 pitch and pulling it inside the leftfield foul pole at Swanson Stadium for the 4-1 lead.
Notre Dame later stretched to a 5-1 margin with an unearned run in the 9th, versus righthander Kyle Lindsay. Lilley reached on a one-out error before Pollock drove a single up the middle and Dressman pulled an RBI groundball to the right side.
SPRING BREAK OVERVIEW – The ND offense hit .303 and averaged 7.0 runs in the eight Spring Break games, with the Irish hitting 53 points higher (.355) when runners were in scoring position during the week … the ND pitchers compiled a 2.88 staff ERA over Spring Break while holding opponents to .239 batting and posting a 2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (55/27) … the ND pitchers were even better in clutch situations during the break, limiting the opponent hitters to .174 batting with runners in scoring position and .193 with 2-outs … ND stolen bases on the trip while continuing to make strides in controlling the opposition’s running game (9 SB allowed in the 8 games) … prior to the Spring Break trip, the Irish had been struggling with their late-game offense (outscored 9-5 from the 7th-9th innings), but Notre Dame dominated late-inning scoring over the past week to the tune of racking up a 32-3 scoring edge from the 7th-10th innings in those eight games (highlighted by several innings with 4-plus runs) … top Spring Break hitters included: Pollock (.419, 13-for-31, 4 RBI, 8 R, 3B, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 3 SAC, SF, 3-3 SB, 5 Es), freshman catcher Ryan Smith (.381, 9-for-21, 6 RBI, 4 R, 2B, 2 BB, 3 Ks, SF, 2 Es), Dressman (.367, 11-for-30, 6 RBI, 6 R, 2B, 3B, 3 BB, K, SAC, SB) and Lilley (.364, 12-for-33, 2 RBI, 11 R, BB, 5 HBP, 4 Ks, SAC, SB, 3 Es) … the ND team stats in the four games at the FGCU Classic included .329 team batting, .507 team slugging, 11.5 runs per game, a 2.06 staff ERA, a lowly .217 opp. batting avg., 31 Ks throwm/15 walks allowed (but also a .943 fielding pct., with 9 Es) … Pollock (.533, 8-for-15) also was ND’s top hitter in the four Ft. Myers games, followed by Dressman (.500, 8-for-16), Brezovsky (.412), Smith (.400) and Lilley (.353).
OTHER NOTES – All five of Weglarz’s hits this season have gone for extra bases (HR, 4 2B) … prior to Saturday’s rally, ND had been just 1-7 this season when trailing at the end of the 7th inning … the Irish have yet to lose this season when scoring 5-plus runs (7-0) … Dayton’s early run leaves ND with a 17-7 scoring margin in the 1st inning this season … Lilley’s HBP was the 60th of his career, still 12th on the NCAA all-time list but now one shy of tying for 9th place … Dayton finished with the slight hit edge, 9-8 (ND now is 1-8 when getting outhit and 7-1 when owning the hit edge) … ND steadily has built its season batting average (now up to .275) while the staff ERA is an impressive 3.08 (plus a low .251 opp. batting avg.) … the Irish will hope to gain more consistent fielding over the upcoming homestand, as the current .951 team fielding pct. includes 33 errors in 17 games (with 10 multi-error games) … the three players who currently hit at the top of the lineup – Pollock (.360), Dressman (.339) and Lilley (.338) – fittingly rank 1-2-3 on the ND season batting charts, thanks to their recent surges (prior to the 16-6 win over then-#7 Nebraska on March 3, Pollock was batting just .133, Lilley .222 and Dressman .259) … Dressman leads the team in multiple-hit games (8, followed by Lilley and Pollock with 7 each) … Dressman started the Spring Break trip by batting 0-for-11 (dropping his season avg. to .184) before closing with 13 hits in his final 21 at-bats in Florida (.619, plus a pair of walks and sac. bunt) … despite its offensive inconsistency this season, the Irish are averaging 5.9 runs per game (compared to 5.5/gm, at the end of the 2006 Spring Break trip) … the Irish own a better staff ERA (3.08) than at the end of the ’06 spring trip (3.29) but ND’s .951 season fielding pct. (33 Es in 17 games, 29 unearned runs allowed) is well below the 2006 teams defensive stats after returning from their spring trip (.972, 16 Es in 15 games, 12 UER) … ND is batting nearly identical this season vs. LHPs (.280) and RHPs(.275) … the Irish also have solid situational hitting stats with runners in scoring position (.343, including .353 with the bases loaded) but are hitting just .262 with 2-outs … top batters with RISP include junior DH/OF Tony Langford (.500, 4-for-8), Pollock (.462; 6-for-13), Brezovsky (.364), Dressman (.357) and Barnes (.353) … six different ND pitchers own a sub-2.00 season ERA: John Seabaugh (0.00), Jess Stewart (0.62), David Phelps (1.20), Joey Williamson (1.88), Weiland (1.93) and Kapala (1.98) … Stewart had three appearances spanning 8.1 innings on the trip, without allowing an earned run (UER) … ND now is batting a combined .380 in its wins this season (11 runs per game), compared to just a .162 team batting avg. and 1.3 runs/gm in the losses.
Notre Dame (8-9) 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-4-1 – 5 8 2
Dayton (6-10) 1-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 – 2 9 4