Feb. 17, 2007
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The Notre Dame baseball team opened the Dave Schrage era in impressive fashion, launching three home runs in a 15-6 win over Prairie View A&M before dropping a low-scoring game (2-1) to a Texas State team that already has posted impressive wins this season over Oklahoma and then-No. 1 Rice. The 15 runs are the most for Notre Dame in the debut game of a head coach in nearly 100 years, dating back to 1908 when the team posted a 19-0 win over Winona in the first game under coach Harry Curtis. Schrage became just the second Notre Dame head coach since 1924 to win his debut game with the Irish.
Notre Dame (1-1) - which now has won six straight season openers - received a strong showing from members of the freshman class, as third baseman A.J. Pollock and leftfielder Michael Wright both homered in the second inning of the opener while rightfielder Billy Boockford later added a key two-run triple (after the Panthers had closed the margin to 8-6). Junior second baseman Ross Brezovsky also played a lead role in the win, batting 3-for-3 with an RBI and three runs scored while facing a Prairie View team (8-5) that already had played 12 games.
Junior lefthander Wade Korpi was the pitcher of record in game-one, as part of a pre-determined rotation due to early-season pitch county. Korpi allowed four runs on four hits, with six strikeouts, three walks and a costly wild pitch that ultimately led to a pair of runs. Freshman righthanders Eric Maust and Steven Mazur then closed out the win while an 8th-inning home run from senior DH Mike Dury gave the Irish their second-most runs in an opener since the early 1960s.
Pollock and the Texas native Wright both homered in their first official college at-bats, with Pollock's three-run blast putting the first runs on the board. They are believed to be the only Notre Dame freshmen ever to hit home runs in a season opener. Dury's blast then marked the first time since 1993 that the Irish have totaled three-plus home runs in a season opener.
The second game featured plenty of baserunners but only three of them cross home plate, with the Irish leaving 10 on base while the Bobcats stranded 11.
Sophomore righthander David Phelps - who pitched out of some jams while matching his career-high strikeout total (7) - was in position for the game-two win before giving up a solo home run to David Wood, tying the game in the fifth. Junior righthander Joey Williamson then was the hard-luck loser, as Texas State (7-2) cashed in a catchers-interference play for an unearned run in the 8th (the decisive score came on a foul-ball sacrifice fly).
The switch-hitting Dury nearly smacked the first home run of the day in the 2nd inning, instead pulling the ball just foul of the rightfield poll before coaxing the full-count walk. Brezovsky then followed a one-out wild pitch with his own full-count walk and Pollock cleared the bases by driving a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left-center. Two batters later, the 9-hole batter Wright fell into a 1-2 hole before pulling his solo shot over the rightfield fence, capitalizing on the brisk wind for the early 4-0 cushion.
Dury walked again with 1-out in the 5th, moving up on a stolen base before scoring on Brezovsky's first-pitch, 2-out single into right-center. Pollock kept thins going with an opposite-field single to the right-center gap (on a 1-2 pitch) and Brezovsky scored with the centerfield bobbled the ball.
The Irish answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the 4th - as Jeremy Barnes went the other way with a single through the right side (playing Wright and Brett Lilley) - but Prairie View scored twice more in the 6th, using a pair of doubles to cut the deficit to 8-6.
Notre Dame broke open the opener with six runs in the 6th, with the big inning including a walk by Lilley, Danny Dressman's bunt single, an opposite-field single to right by Barnes (RBI) and Boockford's two-run triple to deep center.
Dury has just five career home runs with the Irish but two of them have come in opening-week games (also in 2006, vs. Oklahoma).
Notre Dame made several impressive defensive plays in the second game, most notably a 1-6-3 double play from Barnes to Lilley to Phelps. Pollock and Lilley added some strong plays on the left side of the infield and the centerfielder Dressman hauled in Wood's deep flyout late in the game.
The Irish claimed the early lead in the nightcap, sparked by Wright's leadoff walk in the 3rd. Lilley then executed a perfect hit-and-run single through the right side - moving the runner to third - and Dressman followed with a sac. fly for the 1-0 lead.
Prairie View A&M (8-5) 0-0-0 4-0-2 0-0-2 - 8 9 3
Home Runs: A.J. Pollock (ND; 2 on in 6th), Michael Wright (ND; solo in 6th), Mike Dury (ND; solo in 7th; 5th of career).
Texas State (7-2) 0-0-0 0-1-0 0-1-0 - 2 9 1
Home Run: David Wood (TXST; solo in 5th; 3rd of season).