March 13, 2002
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Freshman righthander John Axford had an impressive outing in his first collegiate start but junior leftfielder Brian Stavisky stole the day by homering on his first swing since missing the previous nine games with a shoudler sprain – before adding a two-run triple to spark a four-run fifth – as Notre Dame opened play at the Irish Baseball Classic with a 6-2 win over Creighton at Wolff Stadium.
Notre Dame (6-6) entered the game with just a .154 two-out batting average but three straight Irish hits with two outs in the top of the fifth proved to be the difference, as Notre Dame avenged its 8-6 loss to Creighton on Monday at the Express College Classic in Round Rock.
Axford (1-1) – who pitched out of the bullpen in his first three appearances with the Irish – posted six strikeouts and did not walk a batter while allowing just four hits and a pair of unearned runs in his seven-inning, 105-pitch outing. The Canadian junior national team member also totaled 11 outs via groundballs, including a pair of double plays to end the fourth and seventh innings, while lowering his season ERA to a team-best 2.45.
Stavisky made a surprise return to the lineup, after sending five pitches – including the first three he saw – over the fences in pregame batting practice (his first B.P. since injuring his shoulder in the Feb. 24 game at the University of New Orleans). The 6-3, 220-pound lefthander opened the bottom of the second by taking a first-pitch strike from sophomore righthander Steve Grasley before going the other way for a solo shot over the leftfield fence.
The Bluejays quickly forged a 1-1 tie in the top of the third, after two singles, an error and Tony Roth’s run-scoring groundout with the bases loaded.
Senior centerfielder Steve Stanley – who continued his assault on the Notre Dame record book with two more hits and a pair of stolen bases – started the key fifth-inning rally by sending a one-out, 1-2 pitch up the middle before swiping second and moving to third on freshman DH Matt Macri’s 2-0 single through the left side.
Two batters later, Stavisky delivered a two-run triple to the left-center gap (on a 1-0 pitch) and senior first baseman Ken Meyer sent the next pitch into left field for a two-out RBI double, chasing Grasley from the game. Senior catcher Andrew Bushey then greeted righthander Mike LaMontagna with his own first-pitch double to left-center, pushing the Irish lead to 5-1.
Notre Dame stretched to 6-1 in the seventh, after Javier Sanchez’s leadoff bunt single, Steve Sollmann’s sacrifie bunt, a wild pitch, Stanley’s full-count walk and stolen base, and Macri’s sacrifice fly down the rightfield line (his team-leading ninth RBI of the season).
Creighton cashed in a pair of errors and D.J. Klusaw’s single in the seventh, but Axford induced a 4-6-3 double-play ball from Gabe Lapito to preserve the Irish four-run lead.
Junior righthander Ryan Kalita closed out the game by facing just eight batters over the final two innings, with one strikeout and two hits allowed.
Grasley (0-2) was touched for five runs on seven hits and two walks in four and two-thirds innings, with four strikeouts.
Notes: Stanley has started every game of his ND career (200, all in CF), just four shy of matching the team record for consecutive games started (204, by Pat Pesavento from 1986-89) … his 2-for-4 day pushed Stanley’s season batting average to .473 while raising his career average to .371 (4th-best in ND history, just shy of Scott Sollmann’s .372) … Stanley’s two stolen bases give him 11 for the season and 95 in his career, moving past Pesavento (94) into 2nd in ND history (behind Sollmann’s record total of 101, from 1994-96) … Stanley (292) also is on the verge of the ND career hits record, just three shy of 1993 graduate Eric Danapilis and four behind Pesavento’s record total (296) … Stanley’s current 12-game hitting streak matches the second-longest of his career (also in 1999), behind his 16-game hit streak during the 2000 season … Stanley has played every inning of the last 49 games (423.1 innings) … Meyer (2-for-3) raised his season batting average to .436 while Bushey’s dipped a bit to .433 after his 1-for-4 day … Stavisky’s home run was the 25th of his ND career while his 11 career triples rank 9th in ND history … he is one of three all-time ND players to hit 25-plus home runs and 10-plus triples (Ryan Topham had 34 HRs and 13 3Bs from 1993-95 while Alec Porzel totaled 37 HRs and 12 3Bs from 1998-2001) … Axford was the first of a rare rotation that is slated to see the Irish start three freshmen in succession (Grant Johnson is the probable starter vs. Southern Illinois and Chris Niesel vs. Arkansas-Little Rock) … ND owns an all-time record of 18-3 in the Irish Baseball Classic/Alamo Invitational, including nine straight wins and a 16-1 record in the last 17 San Antonio tournament games … the Irish have not lost three straight games since the start of the current seniors’ freshman season (when ND was swept in three 1999 games at Florida International).
Creighton (4-7) 0-0-1 0-0-0 1-0-0 – 2 6 0
Notre Dame (6-6) 0-1-0 0-4-1 0-0-x – 6 10 4
Steve Grasley (L, 0-2), Mike LaMontagna (5), Joe Humay (8), Brandon Bird (8) and Tim Gradoville.
John Axford (W, 1-1), Ryan Kalita (8) and Andrew Bushey.
Home Run: Brian Stavisky, ND (solo in 2nd, first of season).
Triple: Stavisky (ND). Doubles: Ken Meyer (ND), Andrew Bushey (ND)