March 16, 2007
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Casey Coleman tripled and scored on the ensuing errant relay throw, as the homestanding Florida Gulf Coast University baseball team ultimately cashed in four Notre Dame errors for four unearned runs, en route to edging the Irish, 5-3, in front of a spirited Friday-night home crowd at Swanson Stadium.
Schedule Note: Due to travel delays involving the Harvard baseball team, Saturday’s schedule has been altered at the FGCU St. Patrick’s Week Classic. Notre Dame now will play another game versus Dayton (March 17, at 1:00 p.m. eastern) and the ND-Harvard game schedule for 4:00 will not be played. The ND-Dayton game will be broadcast live in the South Bend area on ESPN Radio 1490 AM, in addition to the usual free live audio streaming on und.com (plus bonus GameTracker, courtesy of und.com, in addition to IrishAlert text-message updates the ND Sports Hotline postgame recap).
Notre Dame (7-9) – which stranded 10 baserunners while seeing its three-game losing streak come to an end – had claimed the lead with two runs in the 3rd and another in the 4th, only to see a series of untimely errors lead to another loss when holding the midgame lead. FGCU (18-7), which was playing its 25th game of the season, had the only extra-base hit of the game but it was the night’s biggest play, as Coleman tripled home the winning run and scored seconds later for the eventual gamewinning run.
Nearly half of Notre Dame’s losses this season (4) have seen unearned runs provide the opponent’s margin of victory – and the Irish have held a midgame lead (at the end of the 4th, or later) in each of those frustrating defeats. Just one day after batting 8-for-15 with runners in scoring position (in the 12-1 win over New York Tech), the Irish managed to hit just 2-for-9 with men in scoring position during Friday night’s action.
A pair of Notre Dame freshmen – catcher Ryan Smith (3-for-5, 2 RBI) and third baseman A.J. Pollock (2-for-3, 2 BB, R) combined to bat 5-for-8 while senior centerfielder Danny Dressman continued his recent surge by batting 2-for-4 with a run scored. The rest of the Irish batters combined to hit just 1-for-21 with a pair of walks and two times hit-by-pitch.
Smith’s five-game hitting streak has pushed him to fifth on the team’s season batting chart (.308) – including a .381 batting average (8-for-21) during the current Spring Break trip – while Pollock now owns a six-game hitting streak (longest by an ND player this season) and is batting a team-best .423 (11-for-26) on the current swing through Florida. Pollock nearly has climbed atop the Notre Dame batting average list (.356), standing just two points behind junior second baseman Ross Brezvosky (.358). Dressman is riding a four-game hitting streak while batting .385 on the Spring Break trip (10-for-26) and .345 for the season, good for third-best among the Irish regulars.
Notre Dame nearly tied the game in the 9th, after a single by Pollock and Smith’s deep ball to left field – but the wind knocked down the blast and leftfielder Chris Alessandria settled under the ball to give righthander Pete Woodworth his third save of the season.
Junior lefthander Wade Korpi (1-3) struck out seven batters over the first four innings before allowing a pair of unearned runs in the 5th, followed by two more FGCU runs in the 6th (one earned). Senior righthander Jess Stewart then logged the final 2.2 innings for the Irish, allowing another unearned run in the bottom of the 8th.
Notre Dame staged a two-out rally to score twice in the 3rd inning, as the Irish cashed in an error by lefthander Richard Bleier (3-1) that allowed Brett Lilley to reach on a short chopper. A wild pitch and walks by Pollock and Mike Dury loaded the bases before Smith ripped a 2-1 pitch up the middle for the two-run single.
The Irish added a run in the 4th, as Dressman sent a single through the left side, moved up on a groundout and scored on Ryan Connolly’s single into the left-center gap.
Notre Dame’s current staff ERA (3.22) would rank better than the final ERA posted by the talented 2006 Irish staff (3.27), but nearly 40 percent (29 of 77) of the runs scored versus Notre Dame this season have come unearned.
Notre Dame (7-9) 0-0-2 1-0-0 0-0-0 – 3 8 4
Florida Gulf Coast (17-8) 0-0-0 0-2-2 0-1-X – 5 9 1
Triple: Casey Coleman (FGCU).