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    Fighting Irish
    Chris McKeown
    Chris McKeown

    May 15, 1997

    Irish Eliminated in 11 Innings

    NORWICH, Conn. -- The Notre Dame baseball team concluded its appearance at the BIG EAST Tournament with an 11-inning, 5-4 loss to Villanova, after the Irish had eliminated West Virginia earlier in the day, 8-1, in the double-elimination tournament action Thursday at Dodd Stadium.

    Notre Dame (41-19) now awaits Monday's announcement of the NCAA Tournament field, holding out hopes for an at-large bid to the NCAAs (the '96 Irish team received an at-large bid with a 43-16 record).

    Sophomore lefthander Chris McKeown (4-3) tossed the first nine-inning complete game of his career, facing just 34 West Virginia batters (seven above the minimum) while limiting WVU (36-19) to four hits and one walk. McKeown's season-ending streak has included just three earned runs in his last 41 and two-thirds innings as a starter (while lowering his season ERA to 3.26).

    Notre Dame's big inning vs. WVU came in the five-run top of the fourth, highlighted by an RBI double from Randall Brooks and a two-out RBI single from Todd Frye.

    The Irish held a 4-1 lead on Villanova (29-26) heading into the bottom of the 6th but the Wildcats rallied to the win in a game that was full of big plays, strange moments and missed opportunities (the Irish stranded 11 runners while the Wildcats left nine on base). Notre Dame freshman Jeff Felker -- whose baserunning error cost the Irish a run in the 5th -- gained some redemption an inning later on a two-out, two-run double down the rightfield line.

    Rick Welsh hit a solo home run off Irish freshman lefthander Tim Kalita in the bottom of the 6th and the Wildcats ultimately forced extra innings with two runs in the seventh, with Brian Fili drawing a walk after a 14-pitch at-bat with the bases loaded before Mike Perate's groudout to second baseman Frye plated Augie Grove as an unearned, tying run.

    Kalita had a commendable outing, allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits and five walks over seven innings while striking out seven Villanova batters. Senior righthander Larry Mohs (0-1) was the hard-lucker loser, after turning in a gutsy and season-high three and one-third innings of relief.

    Fili proved to be the hero for Villanova in the bottom of the 11th. Reserve leftfielder Bill Brehm hit a leadoff single up the middle and moved up to second on a passed ball before taking third on Tom Shank's sacrifice bunt. The Irish then brought on another senior righthander, Mike Balicki, and proceeded to pull off a rare and gutsy ploy, moving rightfielder Jeff Perconte to the left side of the infield (between shortstop Brant Ust and the second base bag). Grove, needing just a sacrifice fly to win the game, took ball one before grounding out to Ust for the second out of the inning.

    Balicki then walked No. 9 hitter Pat Kane on five pitches and Fili battled from 0-2 to a full count before sending a dipping single into left field, with Brehm trotting home as the winning run. Villanova must beat St. John's twice on Friday to claim the tournament title. The Red Storm won the winner's bracket by beating the Wildcats, 6-5, earlier on Thursday.

    In the earlier game, the Irish jumped on WVU starting righthander Steve Beller (5-6) for two runs in the 1st, behind RBI singles from Ust and Allen Greene. An error on WVU catcher Jason Frushour then allowed J.J. Brock to score in the 2nd. The Mountaineers scored their lone run in the bottom of the third but McKeown held the defending tournament champions to just one hit over the final six innings (McKeown's only walk came in the 7th).

    Notre Dame's five run fourth included a leadoff single by Brock. Brooks' double down the leftfield line, an intential walk to Mike Amrhein (his ninth of the season) and a walk by Jeff Wagner, loading the bases. Ust then lifted a sacrifice fly to right field, ending Beller's day and bringing on lefthander Chad Spencer. Greene and Felker both then reached on infield errors, plating two more runs, and Frye plated Greene with a two-out single to left.

    Thursday's second game had somewhat of an ominous start for Notre Dame, as Ust drilled a first inning shot to dead-center field, with Fili sprinting back to barely catch the ball at the edge of the fence. Villanova scored first, in the third, after a leadoff single from Kane, a bunt single by Fili, a sacrifice bunt by Perate and a groundout RBI by Adam Neyland.

    The Irish managed just one run in the fifth, despite three hits and an error. Leadoff man Greene was hit by a pitch and Felker moved him to third with a single down the rightfield line. Frye then sent a hit to the right side of the infield and Felker inadvertently ran into the ball, forcing him out on the play and requiring Greene to remain at third. Brock's single up the middle plated Greene and pushed Frye to third, but Brock was thrown out 8-5-4 trying to take second on the play. Brooks then got aboard on a catcher's interference but Jeff Perconte struck out, after fouling off four pitches with a full count.

    Notre Dame's three-run sixth included two-out singles by Ust and Greene, followed by Felker's first-pitch double down the rightfield line. Frye then reached on an error by third baseman Welsh, ending the night for righthanded starter Brian Buckingham. Righthanded reliever Trevor Pepkowski forced Brock into a leftside popup, but second baseman Tom Shank and first baseman Dan Boublis could not come up with the catch just past the first base bag, allowing Felker to score for a 4-1 Irish lead.

    More frustration awaited the Irish in the seventh, after Perconte laced a leadoff triple to right-center. Amrhein then drilled a shot to the right side but Shank was there for the putout. Pepkowski next delivered a called third strike on Wagner before Ust ripped a shot towards Welsh at third base, with Welsh catching the ball as he fell down and throwing Ust out, denying Perconte what had appeared to be a certain insurance run.

    Villanova appeared to gain some inspiration from the ejection of Boublis, who exchanged words with the plate umpire after striking out to open the bottom of the 7th. The Wildcats went on to score twice in the inning and tied the game at 4-4.

    Notre Dame's final near-miss came in the 10th. Ust was hit by a pitch with two outs and moved to second on a single from Greene. Felker then smacked a hit-and-run ball to the gap in left-center but Brehm slanted in to make a jumping catch, denying Ust yet another would-be run.

    Big East Tournament Notes

    Notre Dame's top hitters in the BIG EAST Tournament were Brock (8-for-16, RBI, 3 runs), Greene (7-for-15, RBI 5 runs) and Brooks (7-for-19, 2 RBI, 3 runs), with no other player hitting above .235 ... 12 of Notre Dame's 18 RBI in the tournament came with two outs ... the Irish posted a 2.63 tournament ERA and finished the season with a school-record 399 strikeouts (the '93 Irish staff threw 392 K's) ... WVU's three lefhanded batters (Josh Williamson, Jason Frushour and Abe Barker) were 1-for-11 vs. McKeown ... Notre Dame has eliminated five different teams from the BIG EAST Tournament over the past two years: Villanova (7-3), Providence (4-2) and St. John's (4-0) last season and Seton Hall (4-3) and West Virginia (8-1) this ... Notre Dame's team ERA (4.51) is the lowest it has been in two months (it was 4.39 on March 15) ... Notre Dame has four players with 82 or more hits: Amrhein (91), Brooks (86), Ust (83) and Wagner (82) ... Brooks collected 89 hits in '96 with no other Irish batter collecting more than 73 hits last season ... Notre Dame's team batting avg. (.3334) dipped just below the school record (.3343 set in 1989) ... the Irish remain on pace to set the team slugging pct. record (.529, above the '93 mark of .519) and this week set team record for home runs (66) and doubles (127) in a season ... Mohs dropped his season ERA to 2.66, Kalita to 3.67 ... Brooks stands 6th all-time at Notre Dame with a .364 career batting avg. (Amrhein is 7th, at .361) ... Notre Dame had won its previous four extra-inning games this season ... the Irish are 16-17 away from home during the '97 season (25-2 at home).

    Box Score

    Univ. of Notre Dame vs Villanova University May 15, 1997 at Dodd Stadium

    Univ. of Notre Dame 4 (41-19)                           Villanova University 5 (29-26)
    Name (Pos)                 AB  R  H RBI  BB SO PO  A    Name (Pos)                 AB  R  H RBI  BB SO PO  A
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Randall Brooks cf.........  5  0  2  0    0  1  1  0    Brian Fili cf.............  4  0  2  2    2  1  2  1
    Jeff Perconte rf..........  5  0  1  0    0  4  1  0    Mike Perate lf/1b.........  4  0  1  1    0  1  5  0
    Mike Amrhein dh...........  5  0  0  0    1  0  0  0    Matt Neyland rf...........  4  0  0  1    1  0  5  0
    Jeff Wagner c.............  4  0  0  0    1  1  8  2    Rick Welsh 3b.............  4  1  1  1    1  1  0  3
    Brant Ust ss..............  4  1  1  0    0  0  4  5    Martin Stetina dh.........  5  0  1  0    0  3  0  0
    Allen Greene lf...........  4  2  2  0    0  1  3  0    Dan Bouslis 1b............  3  0  0  0    0  1  4  0
    Jeff Felker 1b............  5  1  2  2    0  2 10  3     John Biggie 1b............ 0  0  0  0    0  0  0  0
    Todd Frye 2b..............  5  0  1  1    0  0  2  4     Mike Toth ph.............. 1  0  1  0    0  0  0  0
    J.J. Brock 3b.............  4  0  2  1    0  0  1  1     Chris Valenti pr.......... 0  0  0  0    0  0  0  0
    Tim Kalita p..............  0  0  0  0    0  0  2  1     Bill Brehm lf............. 1  1  1  0    0  0  1  0
     Larry Mohs p.............. 0  0  0  0    0  0  0  0    Tom Shank 2b..............  3  1  1  0    1  1  6  1
     Mike Balicki p............ 0  0  0  0    0  0  0  0    Augie Grove c.............  5  1  0  0    0  0  9  2
    Pat Kane ss...............  3  1  1  0    2  1  1  1
    Brian Buckingham p........  0  0  0  0    0  0  0  2
     Trevor Pepkowski p........ 0  0  0  0    0  0  0  1
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Totals.................... 41  4 11  4    2  9 32 16 Totals.................... 37  5  9  5    7  9 33 11
    Score by innings:                        R  H  E
    ------------------------------------------------
    Univ. of Notre Dame   000 013 000 00  -  4 11  1
    Villanova University  001 001 200 01  -  5  9  3
    ------------------------------------------------
    Note: 2 outs, 2 runner(s) LOB when the game ended.
    E - J.J. Brock(27), Rick Welsh(13), Augie Grove(2), Pat Kane(19).
    DP - Irish 3, Wildcats 1. 
    LOB - Irish 11, Wildcats 9.
    2B - Jeff Felker(10), Tom Shank(9). 
    3B - J. Perconte(2).
    HR - Rick Welsh(13).
    SB - Rand. Brooks(19), C. Valenti(6). 
    CS - Rand. Brooks(9).
    SH - J.J. Brock(5), Mike Perate(4), Tom Shank(3).
    Univ. of Notre Dame    IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  AB  BF    Villanova University   IP   H   R  ER  BB  SO  AB  BF
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tim Kalita..........  7.0   5   4   3   5   7  24  30    Brian Buckingham....  5.2   7   4   3   2   5  22  26
    Larry Mohs..........  3.1   3   1   0   1   2  11  13    Trevor Pepkowski....  5.1   4   0   0   0   4  19  22
    Mike Balicki........  0.1   1   0   0   1   0   2   3
    Winner - T. Pepkowski 5-2.  
    Loser - Larry Mohs 0-1.  
    PB - Jeff Wagner(5), Augie Grove(2). 
    CI - Augie Grove.
    HBP - by Buckingham (Allen Greene), by T. Pepkowski (Brant Ust), by T. Pepkowski (J. Perconte).
    Start: 7 PM   
    Time: 3:20   
    Attendance: 120

    Game Notes:
    BIG EAST Tournament game #9 (Notre Dame eliminated)

    Villanova advances to final day against St. John's

    Play-by-play

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 1
    Rand. Brooks singled to right field. J. Perconte struck out. Mike Amrhein popped up to ss. Rand. Brooks stole second. Jeff Wagner walked. Brant Ust flied out to cf. 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 1
    Brian Fili walked. Mike Perate grounded into double play p to ss to 1b; Brian Fili out on the play. M. Neyland walked. Rick Welsh flied out to lf. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 2
    Allen Greene struck out looking. Jeff Felker struck out. Todd Frye flied out to rf. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 2
    M. Stetina singled to shortstop. Dan Boublis grounded into double play ss to 2b to 1b; M. Stetina out on the play. Tom Shank doubled to right field. Augie Grove flied out to cf. 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 3
    J.J. Brock lined out to 1b. Rand. Brooks grounded out to p. J. Perconte struck out. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 3
    Pat Kane singled to center field. Brian Fili singled to pitcher, bunt; Pat Kane advanced to second. Mike Perate grounded out to c, SAC, bunt; Brian Fili advanced to second; Pat Kane advanced to third. M. Neyland grounded out to 2b, RBI; Brian Fili advanced to third; Pat Kane scored. Rick Welsh grounded out to 3b. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 4
    Mike Amrhein walked. Jeff Wagner grounded into double play p to 2b to 1b; Mike Amrhein out on the play. Brant Ust flied out to rf. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 4
    M. Stetina struck out. Dan Boublis out at first 1b to p. Tom Shank struck out looking. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 5
    Allen Greene hit by pitch. Jeff Felker singled down the rf line; Allen Greene advanced to third. Todd Frye singled to second base, RBI; Jeff Felker out at second 2b unassisted; Allen Greene scored. J.J. Brock singled to center field, out at second cf to 3b to 2b; Todd Frye advanced to third. Rand. Brooks reached on catcher's interference. Rand. Brooks advanced to second on a passed ball. J. Perconte struck out. 1 run, 3 hits, 1 error, 2 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 5
    Augie Grove flied out to lf. Pat Kane struck out looking. Brian Fili struck out. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 6
    Mike Amrhein popped up to 2b. Jeff Wagner flied out to rf. Brant Ust singled to shortstop. Allen Greene singled to center field; Brant Ust advanced to third. Jeff Felker doubled down the rf line, 2 RBI; Allen Greene scored; Brant Ust scored. Todd Frye reached on an error by 3b; Jeff Felker advanced to third. T. Pepkowski to p for Buckingham. J.J. Brock singled to first base, RBI; Todd Frye advanced to third; Jeff Felker scored, unearned. Rand. Brooks struck out looking. 3 runs, 4 hits, 1 error, 2 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 6
    Mike Perate struck out. M. Neyland lined out to ss. Rick Welsh homered down the lf line, RBI. M. Stetina struck out. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 7
    J. Perconte tripled to right center. Mike Amrhein lined out to 2b. Jeff Wagner struck out looking. Brant Ust grounded out to 3b. 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 7
    Dan Boublis struck out, out at first c to 1b. Tom Shank walked. Augie Grove reached on an error by 3b; Tom Shank advanced to second. Pat Kane walked; Augie Grove advanced to second; Tom Shank advanced to third. Brian Fili walked, RBI; Pat Kane advanced to second; Augie Grove advanced to third; Tom Shank scored. Mike Perate grounded out to 2b, RBI; Brian Fili advanced to second; Pat Kane advanced to third; Augie Grove scored, unearned. M. Neyland out at first 1b to p. 2 runs, 0 hits, 1 error, 2 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 8
    John Biggie to 1b for Dan Boublis. Allen Greene flied out to lf. Jeff Felker struck out looking. Todd Frye flied out to cf. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 8
    Larry Mohs to p for Tim Kalita. Rick Welsh struck out. M. Stetina grounded out to ss. Mike Toth pinch hit for John Biggie. Mike Toth singled to left center. C. Valenti pinch ran for Mike Toth. C. Valenti stole second. Tom Shank flied out to rf. 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 9
    Mike Perate to 1b. Bill Brehm to lf for C. Valenti. J.J. Brock grounded out to 3b. Rand. Brooks singled to center field. J. Perconte struck out looking. Rand. Brooks out at second c to 2b, caught stealing. 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 9
    Augie Grove fouled out to 3b. Pat Kane lined out to lf. Brian Fili popped up to ss. 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 10
    Mike Amrhein grounded out to p. Jeff Wagner grounded out to ss. Brant Ust hit by pitch. Allen Greene singled to left field; Brant Ust advanced to second. Jeff Felker flied out to lf. 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 10
    Mike Perate singled to center field. M. Neyland grounded into double play 2b to ss to 1b; Mike Perate out on the play. Rick Welsh walked. M. Stetina struck out. 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

    Univ. of Notre Dame inning 11
    Todd Frye reached on an error by ss. J.J. Brock grounded out to c, SAC, bunt; Todd Frye advanced to second. Rand. Brooks flied out to rf; Todd Frye advanced to third. J. Perconte hit by pitch. Mike Amrhein flied out to rf. 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 error, 2 LOB.

    Villanova University inning 11
    Bill Brehm singled to center field. Bill Brehm advanced to second on a passed ball. Tom Shank out at first 1b to 2b, SAC, bunt; Bill Brehm advanced to third. M. Balicki to p for Larry Mohs. Augie Grove grounded out to ss. Pat Kane walked. Pat Kane advanced to second. Brian Fili singled to left field, RBI; Pat Kane advanced to third; Bill Brehm scored, unearned. 1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB.

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