April 15, 2002
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Senior centerfielder Steve Stanley added to his national player-of-the-year credentials while sophomore shortstop Javier Sanchez matched Stanley with four hits and factored into five Irish runs, as the Notre Dame baseball team rallied from an early 5-1 deficit to edge visiting Central Michigan, 10-9, in Monday-night action at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (22-12) – winners of 13 of its last 15 games – beat Central Michigan (17-13) for the sixth straight season, led by 4-for-4 efforts from Sanchez and Stanley, who pushed his season batting average to .475 (he is likely to rank among the national leaders, to be released later this week).
CMU led 4-2 after three innings before both teams scored twice in the fourth. The Irish then surged ahead with four in the fifth and two more in the sixth, with the Chippewas scoring twice in the eighth to set up an exciting finish.
Stanley – who also walked in his other plate appearance – now has hit safely in 32 of 34 games this season, with hitting streaks of 13, 10 and currently nine games. His active streak includes multiple hits in each of the last eight games, with a .622 batting average (23-37) during the current nine-game hitting streak.
Sanchez drove in three runs, including a solo home run in the second inning and a key two-run single in the fourth, in addition to scoring two other runs.
Freshman lefthander Scott Bickford (1-0) took the hill with one out in the third and recorded the next nine outs while picking up the first decision of his Irish career, allowing two runs on three hits, with one walk.
Junior righthander Matt Laird then kept CMU off the scoreboard for 1.2 innings before senior Drew Duff inherited a save opportunity to open the eighth. Duff yielded a pair of runs but bounced back for a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, for his first save of the season and third of his ND career.
Notre Dame – which owns a commanding 38-5 scoring edge in the fifth inning this season – claimed an 8-7 lead with four runs in the fifth, sparked by Andrew Bushey’s leadoff walk and an attempted sacrifice bunt by Steve Sollmann that died inside the third-base line for a single. Lefthanded reliever Joey Fahndrich (1-1) then hit Kris Billmaier with an 0-1 pitch and Sanchez delivered by sending a 2-0 pitch up the middle for a two-run single.
Joe Thaman’s sacrifice bunt advanced the runners and Stanley plated Billmaier by sending the next pitch into center field, with Brian Stavisky’s RBI single through the right side capping the big inning.
Stavisky had three hits and three RBI in the game, with the early highlights including Sanchez lofting a 1-1 pitch from righthanded starter Jeff Opalewski over the leftfield fence, for a 2-1 Irish lead in the second. CMU then pushed across four runs in the third, fueled by a two-run double from Tommy Gibbons (he also smacked a two-run home run in the fourth).
NOTES: Stanley posted his fourth four-hit game of the season and 11th of his career (he also had a 5-for-5 game vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee e in the 2001 NCAAs) ? he has struck out just three times in 139 at-bats this season (one K per every 46.3 ABs, on pace for first in the ND record book) ? Stanley’s season totals also include 15 walks, 22 stolen bases and no errors (he has gone 46 games overall without an E and has just seven career errors) ? his ever-growing career hit total (333) leaves Stanley on the verge of becoming just the eighth Division I player ever to reach 350 hits (he also holds ND records for career stolen bases, with 106, and consecutive starts, with 222).
Central Michigan 0-1-4 2-0-0 0-2-0 - 9 13 4Notre Dame 1-1-0 2-4-2 0-0-0 - 10 14 1
Jeff Opalewski, Joey Fahndrich (4), T.J. Johnson (5) and Keith Sampsell.Martin Vergara, Scott Bickford (3, W, 1-0), Matt Laird (6), Drew Duff (8, SV, 1)and Andrew Bushey, Paul O'Toole.Home Runs: Javier Sanchez, ND (solo in 2nd, 2nd of season), Tommy GibbonsCMU (1 on in 4th, 2nd of season), David Latour, CMU (1 on in 8th, 4th of season).Doubles: Steve Stanley (ND), Gibbons (CMU), Keith Sampsell (CMU), Steve Sanfilippo (CMU).