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    Fighting Irish

    April 20, 1997

    Brooks, Balicki Highlight 10-8 Comeback Win Over Villanova

    NOTRE DAME - Senior centerfielder Randall Brooks continued his hot hitting, going 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI, while senior righthander Mike Balicki bailed out an injury-riddled Irish pitching staff, as Notre Dame came back from an early 4-0 deficit to beat visiting Villanova, 10-8, in Big East Conference action Sunday at Eck Stadium.

    The win is the seventh straight for surging Notre Dame (29-13, 10-4 Big East), which also has won 14 of its last 15 and 20 of its last 22. The Irish increased their lead on idle Rutgers (10-4) atop the conference's National Division standings (which are based on winning percentage), with the Irish now owning a .714 mark while the Scarlet Knights are at .625. Notre Dame has won 10 of its last 11 conference games, since opening 0-3 at Seton Hall, and is now 17-1 at home this season.

    Villanova (18-22, 6-10) saw its slim postseason hopes fade even further, as the Wildcats trail Connecticut (8-8) by two games in the race for the final spot in the six-team Big East Tournament, which will include the top two teams in each division pus two wild card teams. The Irish need to win (at best) six of their final seven conference games to clinch the division title while (as of now) a 3-4 mark down the stretch will likely assure the Irish of at least a spot in the Big East Tournament.

    Balicki (4-0) pitched the final two and two-thirds innings in relief of senior lefthanded starter Wally Widelski and freshman lefthander Tim Kalita. While the Irish offense was rallying, Balicki allowed just two hits and no walks, striking out four of the 10 batters he faced.

    Widelski was pressed into starting duty after sophomore righthander Brad Lidge was unable to pitch due to an elbow problem, becoming the fifth Irish pitcher currently sidelined due to injury. Widelski was touched for four runs (three earned) over two a third innings, allowing seven hits while picking up one strikeout. Kalita also let in four runs (three earned) over the next four innings, allowing just two hits but five walks (with no K's).

    Villanova scored twice in the top of the seventh for an 8-4 lead but Notre Dame then sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning, pushing across five runs to take a 9-8 lead. Brooks led off with his fifth triple of the season, to the gap in right-center field, and senior DH Mike Amrhein then went to the opposite field off senior righthander Trevor Pepkowski (3-1), dropping the first pitch he saw squarely on the rightfield line for a double. Sophomore catcher Jeff Wagner extended the extra-base flurry, golfing a double down the leftfield line.

    The rally continued for the Irish, with three of the next four batters drawing walks. Freshman second baseman Brant Ust earned his 18th base on balls of the season before switch-hitting sophomore leftfielder Allen Greene slapped a first-pitch single to the opposite left field, loading the bases and chasing Pepkowski.

    Sophomore lefthander Mike Perate then took the mound but uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Wagner to score and cut the lead to 8-7. Jeff Felker's groundout to a drawn-in infield held the runners at second and third before junior shortstop Todd Frye worked his way to a walk, again loading the bases.

    Senior third baseman J.J. Brock then took three straight balls and a strike and fouled off a pitch before earning the full-count base on balls, pushing home Ust as the tying run. Perate was able to strike out pinch-hitter Pat O'Keefe but Brooks delivered the game-winning hit in his second at-bat of the inning, sending a hard-hit ball to the left side that tipped off the glove of third baseman Rick Welsh before glancing off the mitt of diving second baseman Martin Stetina.

    Villanova jumped on Widelski and the Irish early, scoring twice in the first after three hits and a pair of Irish errors (both of which allowed runners to move up). The Wildcats tacked on two more runs in the third but the Irish answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning, thanks to a one-out single from junior rightfielder Dan Leatherman, a bunt single by Brooks (accompanied by a one-base throwing error), an RBI single from Amrhein and a run-scoring fielder's choice off the bat of Wagner.

    The visitors stretched to a 6-2 lead with single runs in the fifth and sixth before the Irish cut the lead back to two, with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth. Wagner led off with a single to left and moved to second on a one-out passed ball. Greene then struck out but Felker and Frye drew two-out walks before Brock slapped a two-run, opposite-field single over the head of second baseman Stetina.

    NOTES: Brooks went 9-for-12 in the Villanova series and has five straight multiple-hit games ... in his last eight games, Brooks is hitting .556 (20-for-36) and now has hits in 17 of his last 18 games and 29 of his last 32 ... Notre Dame's 14-for-36 day boosted the team's season batting average to .337, a full five points ahead of the Notre Dame record (.332, set in 1989 and '93) ... Brooks boosted his season average to .389 while Amrhein (.430), Wagner (.401) and Ust (.384) each collected two hits in Sunday's game, with all but Amrhein (2-for-5) raising their season averages ... in other Big East action Sunday, Providence kept its postseason hopes alive with two wins at UConn (4-0, 6-5), St. John's completed a home sweep of Pitt (14-5), Seton Hall finished off a sweep at Georgetown (14-3) and American Division leader West Virginia split at Boston College (5-1, 9-12), with WVU and BC set to play once more on Monday.

    NATIONAL DIVISION               
    Notre Dame      10-4    .714            
    Rutgers         10-6    .625           
    AMERICAN DIVISION
    West Virginia   14-4    .778
    St. John's      11-4    .733
    WILDCARD CONTENDERS
    1.  Seton Hall   11-8   .579
    2.  UConn         8-8   .500
        Villanova    6-10   .375
        Providence   6-11   .352
        Georgetown   5-10   .333
        Pittsburgh   6-14   .300
        Boston Coll. 4-12   .250 
        
    Villanova University 8 (18-22)                              Univ. of Notre Dame 10 (29-13)
    Name (Pos)                 AB  R  H RBI  BB SO PO  A        Name (Pos)                 AB  R  H RBI  BB SO PO  A
    ----------------------------------------------------        ----------------------------------------------------
    Brian Fili cf.............  5  3  2  0    0  0  1  0        Dan Leatherman rf.........  4  1  1  0    0  0  3  0
    Martin Stetina 2b.........  4  2  2  2    1  0  2  2        Pat O'Keefe ph/rf.........  1  0  0  0    0  1  0  0
    Matt Neyland rf...........  4  0  2  2    0  0  0  0        Randall Brooks cf.........  5  2  4  1    0  0  4  0
    Rick Welsh 3b.............  5  0  0  1    0  1  0  4        Mike Amrhein dh...........  5  1  2  2    0  0  0  0
    Dan Bouslis 1b............  4  2  1  0    1  1  8  0        Jeff Wagner c.............  4  3  2  2    1  1  6  1
    Mike Toth c...............  4  0  1  1    0  2  5  1        Brant Ust 2b..............  4  1  2  0    1  0  2  2
    Bill Brehm lf.............  2  1  1  0    3  0  5  0        Allen Greene lf...........  4  1  1  0    1  2  4  0
    Tom Shank dh..............  3  0  1  0    0  0  0  0        Jeff Felker 1b............  3  1  0  1    1  1  7  1
    Mike Perate ph/p..........  2  0  1  1    0  1  0  0        Todd Frye ss..............  2  0  1  0    2  1  1  5
    Pat Kane ss...............  2  0  0  1    0  0  3  2        J.J. Brock 3b.............  4  0  1  3    1  0  0  2
    Chris Pilato p............  0  0  0  0    0  0  0  1        Wally Widelski p..........  0  0  0  0    0  0  0  1
    Trevor Pepkowski p........  0  0  0  0    0  0  0  0        Tim Kalita p..............  0  0  0  0    0  0  0  0
    Drew Baylor p.............  0  0  0  0    0  0  0  1        Mike Balicki p............  0  0  0  0    0  0  0  0
    Totals.................... 35  8 11  8    5  5 24 11        Totals.................... 36 10 14  9    7  6 27 12
    Score by innings:                      R  H  E
    ----------------------------------------------
    Villanova University  202 011 200   -  8 11  2
    Univ. of Notre Dame   002 002 51    - 10 14  3
    ----------------------------------------------
    E - M. Stetina(3), Chris Pilato(1), Rand. Brooks(7), J.J. Brock 2(18).
    DP - Irish 1. LOB - Wildcats 9, Irish 11.
    2B - Brian Fili 2(9), Rand. Brooks(11), Mike Amrhein(8), Jeff Wagner(17),
    Brant Ust(9). 3B - M. Stetina(1), Rand. Brooks(5).
    SB - Mike Perate(11).
    SH - Mike Toth(2), Todd Frye(7). SF - M. Neyland(3), Pat Kane(2), Jeff
    Felker(2).
    Villanova University   IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  AB  BF       Univ. of Notre Dame    IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  AB  BF
    -----------------------------------------------------       -----------------------------------------------------
    Chris Pilato........  5.2   8   4   4   2   5  25  27       Wally Widelski......  2.1   7   4   3   0   1  13  13
    Trevor Pepkowski....  0.1   4   5   5   1   0   5   6       Tim Kalita..........  4.0   2   4   3   5   0  13  21
    Mike Perate.........  1.0   2   1   1   3   1   5   8       Mike Balicki........  2.2   2   0   0   0   4   9  10
    Drew Baylor.........  1.0   0   0   0   1   0   1   4
    
    Winner - M. Balicki 4-0.  Loser - T. Pepkowski 3-1.  Save - None.
    WP - Mike Perate(1), Chris Pilato(4), Tim Kalita(2). PB - Mike Toth(1),
    Jeff Wagner(3).
    HBP - by Tim Kalita (Pat Kane).
    Start: 12:00   Time: 3:06   Attendance: 275
    T. Pepkowski faced 5 batters in the 7th.
    Mike Perate faced 2 batters in the 8th.
    

    Play-by-play

    Villanova University inning 1
    Brian Fili doubled to left center. M. Stetina singled down the lf line, RBI; Brian Fili scored. M. Neyland singled, advanced to second on an error by cf; M. Stetina advanced to second, advanced to third on the error. Rick Welsh grounded out to ss, RBI; M. Stetina scored, unearned. Dan Boublis reached on an error by 3b; M. Neyland advanced to third on the error. Dan Boublis advanced to second; M. Neyland out at home p to 1b to ss to c. Mike Toth struck out. 2 runs, 3 hits, 2 errors, 1 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 1
    Leatherman grounded out to 3b. Rand. Brooks doubled to right center. Mike Amrhein popped up to ss. Rand. Brooks advanced to third on a wild pitch. Jeff Wagner struck out. 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 2
    Bill Brehm grounded out to ss. Tom Shank singled to left field. Pat Kane grounded into double play 3b to 2b to 1b; Tom Shank out on the play. 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 2
    Brant Ust singled to shortstop. Allen Greene reached on a fielder's choice; Brant Ust out at second 2b to ss. Jeff Felker struck out. Todd Frye struck out. 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 3
    Brian Fili doubled down the lf line. M. Stetina tripled to right field, RBI; Brian Fili scored. M. Neyland singled to left field, RBI; M. Stetina scored. Rick Welsh flied out to lf. Tim Kalita to p for W. Widelski. Dan Boublis reached on a fielder's choice; M. Neyland advanced to second on an error by 3b. Mike Toth flied out to cf. Bill Brehm walked; Dan Boublis advanced to second; M. Neyland advanced to third. Tom Shank reached on a fielder's choice; Bill Brehm out at second ss to 2b. 2 runs, 3 hits, 1 error, 3 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 3
    J.J. Brock grounded out to 3b. Leatherman singled to left field. Rand. Brooks singled to pitcher, bunt, advanced to second on an error by p; Leatherman advanced to second, advanced to third on an error by p. Mike Amrhein singled to left field, RBI; Rand. Brooks advanced to third; Leatherman scored. Jeff Wagner reached on a fielder's choice, advanced to second on an error by 2b, RBI; Mike Amrhein out at second ss to 2b; Rand. Brooks scored. Brant Ust grounded out to p. 2 runs, 3 hits, 2 errors, 1 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 4
    Pat Kane fouled out to 1b. Brian Fili flied out to rf. M. Stetina grounded out to ss. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 4
    Allen Greene struck out, out at first c to 1b. Jeff Felker flied out to cf. Todd Frye singled to center field. J.J. Brock grounded out to 3b. 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 5
    M. Neyland flied out to lf. Rick Welsh flied out to rf. Dan Boublis singled to center field. Dan Boublis advanced to second on a passed ball. Mike Toth singled to center field, RBI; Dan Boublis scored, unearned. Bill Brehm walked; Mike Toth advanced to second. Tom Shank flied out to cf. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 5
    Leatherman popped up to ss. Rand. Brooks grounded out to 3b. Mike Amrhein flied out to lf. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 6
    Pat Kane hit by pitch. Brian Fili reached on a fielder's choice; Pat Kane out at second 2b to ss. M. Stetina walked; Brian Fili advanced to second. M. Stetina advanced to second on a wild pitch; Brian Fili advanced to third on a wild pitch. M. Neyland flied out to cf, SF, RBI; M. Stetina advanced to third; Brian Fili scored. Rick Welsh flied out to rf. 1 run, 0 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 6
    Jeff Wagner singled to left field. Brant Ust lined out to lf. Jeff Wagner advanced to second on a passed ball. Allen Greene struck out. Jeff Felker walked. Todd Frye walked; Jeff Felker advanced to second; Jeff Wagner advanced to third. J.J. Brock singled, advanced to second on the throw, 2 RBI; Todd Frye advanced to third; Jeff Felker scored; Jeff Wagner scored. T. Pepkowski to p for Chris Pilato. Leatherman flied out to lf. 2 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 7
    Dan Boublis walked. Mike Toth grounded out to c, SAC, bunt; Dan Boublis advanced to second. Bill Brehm walked. M. Balicki to p for Tim Kalita. Mike Perate pinch hit for Tom Shank. Mike Perate singled to right field, RBI; Bill Brehm advanced to third; Dan Boublis scored. Mike Perate stole second. Pat Kane flied out to cf, SF, RBI; Mike Perate advanced to third; Bill Brehm scored. Brian Fili flied out to lf. 2 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 7
    Rand. Brooks tripled to right center. Mike Amrhein doubled to right field, RBI; Rand. Brooks scored. Jeff Wagner doubled down the lf line, RBI; Mike Amrhein scored. Brant Ust walked. Allen Greene singled to left field; Brant Ust advanced to second; Jeff Wagner advanced to third. Mike Perate to p. / for T. Pepkowski. Allen Greene advanced to second on a wild pitch; Brant Ust advanced to third on a wild pitch; Jeff Wagner scored on a wild pitch. Jeff Felker grounded out to 2b. Todd Frye walked. J.J. Brock walked, RBI; Todd Frye advanced to second; Allen Greene advanced to third; Brant Ust scored. Pat O'Keefe pinch hit for Leatherman. Pat O'Keefe struck out. Rand. Brooks singled to shortstop, RBI; J.J. Brock advanced to second; Todd Frye advanced to third; Allen Greene scored. Mike Amrhein reached on a fielder's choice; Rand. Brooks out at second ss to 2b. 5 runs, 5 hits, 0 errors, 3 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 8
    Pat O'Keefe to rf. M. Stetina grounded out to 3b. M. Neyland flied out to lf. Rick Welsh struck out. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 8
    Jeff Wagner walked. Brant Ust doubled to right field; Jeff Wagner advanced to third. Mike Perate to dh. Drew Baylor to p. Allen Greene walked. Jeff Felker flied out to lf, SF, RBI; Jeff Wagner scored. Todd Frye grounded out to p, SAC, bunt; Allen Greene advanced to second; Brant Ust advanced to third. J.J. Brock flied out to lf. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 9
    Dan Boublis struck out. Mike Toth struck out. Bill Brehm singled to right field. Mike Perate struck out. 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

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