March 26, 2000
PHILADELPHIA – The Notre Dame baseball team suffered a dropoff in its usually reliable defense and pitching while Villanova cashed in several opportunities for a comfortable margin, as the Wildcats defeated the Irish, 11-5, in the finale of a three-game BIG EAST Conference series Sunday at downtown Richie Ashburn Field.
Notre Dame (15-4, 2-1 BIG EAST), which saw an end to its eight-game winning streak, was guilty of three errors and yielded four unearned runs-after totaling just 21 errors in the first 18 games of the season (Sunday marked just the third time season that the Irish totaled three-plus errors in a game). The Notre Dame pitchers-who entered the day with a 2.28 season ERA and had allowed just 19 earned runs in the previous 12 games-gave up seven earned runs in the loss to VU, equaling the most allowed by the Irish this season.
Villanova (11-9, 3-3 BIG EAST) ended a six-game losing streak versus Notre Dame while posting its first regular-season win over the Irish in 10 tries (VU trails the all-time series, 10-3). The Wildcats held middle-inning leads of 5-1 and 7-3 before dealing the final blow in a four-run bottom of the eighth, after the Irish had closed to 7-5.
Freshman righthander Matt Laird (1-1) had a rough outing in his first career BIG EAST appearance, allowing three runs (just one of them earned) on three hits and one walk during the first inning, with two strikeouts. Junior lefty Mike Naumann then pitched the next three innings, followed by sophomore righthanders Drew Duff and Matt Buchmeier and senior closer John Corbin.
VU freshman righthander Tom Kandybowicz (2-1) scattered seven hits and two walks over the first six innings, allowing four runs (two earned) while striking out three Irish batters. Freshman righthander Bob Grzenda tossed the final three innings for his first save, allowing an unearned run and two walks while posting two Ks.
Irish freshman rightfielder Brian Stavisky tripled and scored in the first, extending his hitting streak to 11 games (longest by a Notre Dame player this season).
The Irish left nine runners on base while also hitting into a double play and in the fourth and seeing a runner picked off first base with one out in the third.
- Stavisky drilled the third pitch of the game into the left-center gap for his third triple of the season before scoring on junior SS Alec Porzel’s flyout to left field.
- VU came back with three runs in the bottom of the first (the last two unearned), with Matt Blaney walking on a full count from the leadoff spot before Dave Pizzini legged out a single to Porzel in the hole. Matt Longo then lifted a ball down the leftfield line, with freshman LF Kris Billmaier charging the ball before seeing it bounce out of his glove. Ron Cafiero sent the next pitch up the middle and Nick Piantek added a sacrifice fly to left before Brian Hearne capped the inning with a two-out single down the leftfield line.
- The hosts stretched to 5-1 in the third, thanks to Longo’s leadoff single to the left side, Piantek’s one-out single through the right side, an RBI single to right from Brendan Mannix, Hearne’s walk and John Picone’s sac fly to center.
- ND had a chance to jump back in the game in the fifth, but left the bases loaded while scoring just once. Senior 2B Jeff Perconte sparked the two-out rally with a single up the middle and sophomore CF Steve Stanley then popped up a bunt that landed between the pitcher and the diving 1B Cafiero. Stavisky walked on five pitches before Porzel drew a full-count walk to force home the second Irish run. But Kandybowicz struck out senior 1B Jeff Felker on three pitches, ending the threat.
- VU answered back with two more unearned runs. Mannix started the two-out rally versus Duff, with a 2-2 single to the left side. Hearne then drew a full-count walk and Picone hit a routine ball to Porzel, whose short toss sailed wide of Perconte’s right arm, allowing Mannix to score. Chris Watson followed with a swinging bunt to the left side, but Duff’s gutsy try at a twisting throw ended up being a lob that arrived too late to first base (Hearne scored on the play).
- The Irish stayed in the game with two runs in the sixth, producing a 7-4 score. The rally again came with two outs, after the third strike to sophomore DH Matt Bok bounced in the dirt and kicked to the backstop (Bok went all the way to second on the play). The 3B Longo then threw errantly on Billmaier’s groundball, with both runners taking two bases. Perconte capped the rally with a 1-1 single to left, plating the fourth Irish run.
- ND crept closer with a run in the seventh, with Porzel fouling off three 3-2 pitches before drawing a one-out walk. The CF Watson then made a two-out error, ranging far to his left before dropping a fly ball off the bat of sophomore C Paul O’Toole, with Porzel motoring all the way around from first.
- The Wildcats broke open the close game in the eighth. Corbin hit Watson with the first pitch of the inning and Pizzini drew a one-out walk before Longo hit an RBI single up the middle. Cafiero then sent a two-run triple off the fence in right-center and Piantek plated the final run with a 2-2 single to left.
Notre Dame 1-0-0 0-1-2 1-0-0 - 5 7 3Villanova 3-0-2 0-2-0 0-4-X - 11 13 3Laird, Naumann (2), Duff (5), Buchmeier (6), Corbin (8) and O'Toole.Kandybowicz, Grzenda (7) and Picone.