Feb. 21, 1997

Notre Dame Drops Opening Game to Long Beach State

LONG BEACH, Calif. - The Notre Dame Fighting Irish opened the 1997 baseball season with a hard-fought loss to Long Beach State, 10-8 at Blair Field. Freshman Jeff Felker in his first-ever start for the Irish, nearly won the game single-handedly. Felker went 3-for-5 and was responsible for five of Notre Dame's eight runs.

The Irish, which had beat Long Beach State 8-4 in the Husky Classic last season in the Kingdome, committed four first inning errors. The 49ers capitalized on the Irish miscues to score four unearned runs off Notre Dame starter Darrin Schmalz. Long Beach State would add three runs in the third and two more in the fourth inning to take a commanding 9-0 lead.

In the fifth inning Notre Dame mounted its comeback, scoring two runs. Designated hitter Felker (Ellicott City, MD) reached first on an infield single. One batter later senior J.J. Brock sent a double to leftfield, scoring Felker from first base. Shortstop Paul Turco followed Brock with a double down the rightfield line to score Brock.

Notre Dame would score another run in the sixth, when sophomore Jeff Wagner doubled to center and was brought home on Felker's single to right. Felker, who played well, scoring one run and driving in another, was one of two Irish freshman to earn starting nods in the opening game (third baseman Brent Ust was the other).

In the eighth inning, Notre Dame scored four runs with Wagner singling and reaching second on an error. Justin Scholl then singled to center moving Wagner to third. The next batter, Felker hit a hard shot down the first base line, which was not cleanly handled, and allowing Wagner to score from third. Pinch runner Pat O'Keefe scored on Brent Ust's single to center. One batter later, Paul Turco hit a two RBI triple bringing the Irish to within two runs at 9-7.

Following a run by the 49ers in the bottom of the eighth, Notre Dame's Mike Amrhein, who had singled and advanced on an error, scored off a single by Felker. With the tying run on first, Long Beach was able to get the last two outs and preserve its 10-8 victory.

Long Beach starting pitcher Marcus Jones who had taken the loss to the Irish a year ago, gained a measure of revenge this evening by earning his second victory of the season.

The opening day starting lineup for Notre Dame was 1.) senior center fielder Randall Brooks, 2.) sophomore left fielder Allen Greene, 3.) senior first baseman Mike Amrhein 4.) sophomore catcher Jeff Wagner, 5.) senior right fielder Justin Scholl, 6.) freshman DH Jeff Felker, 7.) freshman third baseman Brant Ust, 8.) senior second baseman J.J. Brock and 9.) sophomore shortstop Paul Turco.

Long Beach State 10, Notre Dame 8
Notre Dame          000 021 041 --  8 14 4
Long Beach State    403 200 01x -- 10 10 3
ND:  Schmalz, Wielski (3), Davis (3), McKeown (4) and Wagner.  LBS: Jones, Montgomery (8),
Petrosian (8) and Martin.  2B:  Wagner (ND), Brock (ND), Turco (ND), Doherty (LBS).
3B:  Turco (ND). WP:  Jones (2-2). LP:  Schmalz (0-1)  Save:  Petrosian (3).

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