Feb. 27, 1997
Irish Take Christian Brothers, Army
MILLINGTON, Tenn. -- Notre Dame sophomore Jeff Wagner singled in his first at-bat of the day and went on to collect extra bases on each of his next four hits, fueling an offensive barrage for the Irish baseball team that produced victories Thursday over Christian Brothers (12-1) and Army (8-0) at the USA Baseball Field.
The first game provided Notre Dame (2-3) with its first win of the season while the second game opened the six-team Service Academies Classic, which also includes Air Force, Navy, Memphis and Arkansas.
Nearly half (12) of Notre Dame's 26 hits in the two games went for extra bases, including the first home runs of the season for the team's catching/first baseman platoon unit of Wagner and senior Mike Amrhein.
The Irish played without sophomore shortstop Paul Turco, who is nursing a hamstring pull, while senior centerfielder Randall Brooks was used at designated hitter due to a nagging quadriceps injury. Junior Todd Frye started at shortstop vs. CBU, making several solid defensive plays, while freshman Jeff Perconte closed out the first game and started the second, doubling in a run vs. CBU before scoring vs. Army.
Senior righthander Darin Schmalz picked up his first victory of the season and 22nd of his career, after holding Amrmy to two hits in the seven-inning game. Schmalz -- who lost last week to then No. 24 Long Beach State -- did not issue a walk Thursday while recording eight strikeouts (vs. seven different Army batters). Schmalz allowed Bryan Price a leadoff double in the fourth before Mike Scioletti picked up a single in the seventh. The game was the first of the season for Army, which lost to the Irish 12-8 in last year's Service Academies Classic.
Notre Dame faces No. 24 Arkansas at 3 p.m. Friday in the most anticipated matchup of the tournament, with rising sophomore righthander Brad Lidge expected to start for the Irish.
In Thursday's first game, senior lefthander Gregg Henebry bounced back from his loss last week to No. 2 USC, allowing just two hits, no walks and an unearned run through five full innings (with two strikeouts).
Notre Dame pounded out 17 hits against Christian Brothers (2-3), with Amrhein's 24th career home run and Wagner's two doubles highlighting seven extra-base hits for the Irish.
Wagner batted 5-for-9 in the two games while collecting 11 total bases on the strength of three doubles and his 11th career home run, a solo shot over the scoreboard in left field during the fourth inning of the Army game. The 6-3, 220-pound righthander opened the day by going 3-for-5 vs. CBU, with an RBI and one run scored.
The day's pitching highlight came in the sixth inning of the CBU game when senior righthander Larry Mohs made his first appearance for the Irish in nearly 22 months, allowing just one hit and striking out one in two innings of work. Mohs' last appearance for Notre Dame came in a 7-6 loss to Michigan on May 2, 1995. A month after that appearance, the 6-8 righthander suffered an elbow injury in a June 3 summer game in the Cape Cod League. The injury required "Tommy John surgery" and Mohs did not appear during his junior season (1986) while undergoing the lengthy rehabilitation under the guidance of Notre Dame athletic trainer Mike Bean.
Sophomore Allen Greene started both games Thursday in center field, moving over from left field in place of the injured Brooks. Greene, who opened the season last week with an 0-for-11 slump, lifted a sacrifice fly in his first trip to the plate vs. CBU before going 2-for-3 in both games Thursday. Greene's highlights vs. the Buccaneers included an RBI single down the left field line and an RBI double in Notre Dame's four-run sixth inning.
Brook's was hitless in three at-bats vs. CBU but bounced back to go 2-for-3 with a run and stolen base vs. the Black Knights.
Freshmen Brant Ust and Jeff Felker continued their impressive early-season showings. Ust collected five hits in six at-bats during the two games while again turning in a solid fielding day at third base. Ust, hitting in the No. 2 spot, scored three times vs. CBU after ripping singles down the left field line in the first and fourth innings and adding another single in the sixth. He went 2-for-2 vs. Army , hitting an RBI single in the second before tripling to right center and scoring in the fourth.
Felker started at his fourth different position in as many games after taking the field vs. CBU in left field. The lanky 6-5 lefthander opened his career last week at the Long Beach State Classic by starting at DH vs. LBSU, right field vs. USC and first base vs. Mississippi. In his first at-bat Thursday, Felker was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. He went on to single in his next at-bat, stole second and scored on a single by Greene before adding an RBI groundout in the sixth and a double and a run scored in the eighth. Felker then walked in his first at-bat vs. Army and went on to score as the Irish opened with a 3-0 lead.
A pair of freshman pitchers, lefthander Tim Kalita and righthander Scott Cavey, made their Irish debut vs. CBU, with Kalita allowing two hits in the eighth while the 6-5 Cavey walked one batter in the ninth.
Amrhein's 24th career home run leaves him four shy of fifth place on the Irish all-time list, currently occupied by Tim Hutson (1985-88) and Dan Peltier (1987-89). Schmalz' 22nd victory leaves him three behind Pat Leahy (1990-92) for sixth on the Irish all-time victories chart.
Game One Army 000 000 0 -- 0 2 0 Notre Dame 321 200 -- 8 9 0 Schmalz and Amrhein. King and Hicks. WP - Schmalz (1-1). LP - King (0-1). 2B - Price (A), Wagner (ND), Scholl (ND). 3B - Ust (ND), Greene (ND). HR - Wagner (ND) 1. Game Two Christian Brothers 001 000 000 -- 1 5 0 Notre Dame 301 204 11 -- 12 16 1 Voitier, Wages (6), Hargraves (8) and Kolodziej, Gentleman. Henebry, Mohs (6), Kalita (8), Cavey (9) and Wagner. WP - Henebry (1-1). LP - Voitier (0-2). 2B - Perconte (ND), Wagner (ND) 3, Greene (ND), Brock (ND). HR - Amrhein (ND) 1.