March 21, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame totaled 15 baserunners but managed to bring just two of them home, as Wright State made three early runs hold up to defeat the Irish, 4-2, in Tuesday night’s home baseball opener at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (9-7) stranded eight baserunners while seeing three others erased on a pickoff, a caught-stealing and a double-play ball. Wright State (8-8) – which posted a win earlier this season over top-25 team TCU – received a solid start from junior righthander Erich Schanz while senior righthander Robert Barrett provided the key middle relief and highly-regarded closer Joe Smith retired nine of the 12 batters he faced for his second save of the season.
Sophomore lefthander Wade Korpi (1-1) had one rocky inning and suffered the loss, despite a career-best nine strikeouts. Korpi allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits and three walks, locating 73 of his 104 pitches for strikes in six innings of work. Korpi’s season totals now include 25 strikeouts and six walks in 17.1 innings, with his 4.2 K-to-walk ratio marking a significant improvement from his freshman season (when he totaled 32 Ks but 33 walks in 54.1 innings). His strikeout average of 13.0 Ks per 9 IP has nearly tripled from 2005, when he averaged just 5.3 Ks over 9-innings.
Senior first baseman Craig Cooper extended his hitting streak to nine games by opening the game for the Irish with an opposite-field double to right field. Danny Dressman then executed the sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch allowed Cooper to score with the game’s first run.
The visitors quickly claimed a 3-1 lead, with a one-out walk from John Kopilchack, preceding four straight 2-out hits. Jeremy Hamilton doubled to left-center, with the lead runner scoring when leftfielder Matt Bransfield bobbled the ball. Justin Wilson added an RBI single through the left side of the infield and Ross Oeder’s single to right-center played the third run.
The Irish nearly pulled off a 2-out rally in the 5th, with Schanz departing after Cooper reached on an error by the shortstop and Danny Dressman walked on four pitches. Lefthander Kyle Kearcher then lost lefthanded-hitting Sean Gaston on another four-pitch walk but the senior righthander Barrett came on to end the threat with a bases-loaded strikeout.
The Raiders added an insurance run in the 7th, sparked by Dan Biedenharn’s leadoff walk and a throwing error on the ensuing sacrifice bunt attempt (putting two runners in scoring position). Sophomore righthander Joey Williamson then relieved his high school teammate Korpi but Amin Abusaleh brought home the unearned run with a single that dropped into shallow center field, with the infield playing in and unable to make what would have been a routine popup.
The Irish cut the deficit to 4-2 with an unearned run in the 8th, after Gaston’s one-out walk, a dropped fly ball and Ross Brezovsky’s sacrifice fly.
Brett Lilley pulled the ball down the rightfield line to lead off the bottom of the 9th and the sophomore third baseman scooted to second with the rightfielder had trouble fielding the single. But Smith struck out the next two batters and rolled up a rightside groundout to end the game.
Lilley (2-for-4) – who had a 5-hit game in the 2005 home opener vs. Cincinnati – registered his second multiple-hit game of the season.
The Irish now are 9-3 in home openers during the Paul Mainieri era.
Wright State (8-8) 0-0-0 0-0-0 1-0-0 – 4 9 5
Notre Dame (9-7) 1-0-0 0-0-0 0-1-0 – 2 4 3
Doubles: Craig Cooper (ND), Jeremy Hamilton (WS), Justin Wilson (WS).