Feb. 18, 2005
ORLANDO, Fla. - Steve Andres and Matt Edwards both homered and the Notre Dame offense nearly tied an NCAA record by totaling nine times hit-by-pitch, as the 20th-ranked Irish baseball team pushed across the program's most runs in a season opener since 1963 en route to an 18-3 victory over Florida A&M, in neutral-site action at Central Florida's Bergman Field.
Notre Dame - now 7-1 in its past eight season openers - enjoyed an efficient day in run production, bringing home more than half of its 33 baserunners. Only 13 of those runners reached on hits, plus nine on walks and nine via the hit-by-pitch (one shy of the NCAA record, set by Washington in a 1998 game vs. Rice). Notre Dame batters delivered an RBI in 9-of-11 chances with a runner on third base and fewer than two outs in Friday's game.
Sophomore righthander Jeff Samardzija - a two-sports athlete who did not have the benefit of summer and fall baseball due to his football commitments - was a bit rusty but turned in five solid innings to pick up the victory, yielding a run in the third inning while allowing four total hits and three walks (he also hit two batters and struck out one).
Notre Dame enjoyed its high-powered offensive day despite an 0-for-3 game from the team's top returning hitter - junior centerfielder and leadoff man Craig Cooper (who reached on a HBP but had no RBI or runs scored) - and just one plate appearance from the 2004 team's RBI leader, junior DH Matt Bransfield (whose status is TBA after leaving due to a hand injury). Sophomore Danny Dressman replaced Bransfield in the third inning and went on to lead the Irish with a 3-for-4 effort, adding a team-best three runs and one of the team's three bases-loaded walks.
The Irish capped five straight scoring innings by pushing across eight runs in the bottom of the sixth, yielding an 11-3 lead.
Seven different Notre Dame players were plunked by pitches but junior rightfielder Cody Rizzo - already the program's career leader with 49 HBPs - was not one of them. Andres hit 1-for-2 from the 5-hole but the junior leftfielder reached base four other times and scored four runs, thanks to a walk and three HBPs. Edwards also crossed home plate four times, with the senior first baseman batting 2-for-4 with a walk and one hit-by-pitch.
Freshman lefthander David Gruener qualified for the save by throwing the final four innings, allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits, one walk and a balk. Gruener struck out three FAMU batters and located 72 of his pitches for strikes (42 of 58).
The long balls from Andres and Edwards marked the first time in the 11-year tenure of head coach Paul Mainieri that the Irish have launched multiple home runs in a season opener. Edwards also became the first Mainieri-era player ever to collect multiple home runs in season-opening games (he homered in his first at-bat of the '04 season, vs. San Diego State) - with the first nine seasons of the Mainieri era featuring just five opening-day home runs.
(See additional game notes and gameday photos below the linescore.)
Florida A&M (0-11) 0-0-1 0-0-2 0-0-0 - 3 9 2
WEEKEND ROTATION - ND's probable starting pitchers for the upcoming games include junior LHP Tom Thornton (Sat. vs. UCF, 1:00 p.m.), freshman LHP Wade Korpi (Sat. vs. FAMU, 5:00) and sophomore RHP Jess Stewart (Sun. vs. UCF, 1:00).
HBP HIGHWAY - Notre Dame players were hit-by-pitch 106 times in the 2004 season (good for 5th in NCAA history) but the Irish already are nearly 10% of the way to that total after 9 HBPs in the opener vs. FAMU ... in addition to Andres (3), others who were plunked on Friday included Cooper, Edwards, Bransfield, junior SS Greg Lopez, junior IF Eddie Smith and freshman 3B Ross Brezovsky ... in addition to coming one shy of the NCAA record for HBPs in a game by one team, ND and FAMU (2) also combined for 11 HBPs (one shy of that NCAA record of 12) ... the NCAA record for most HBPs in a game by one player is five.
TRIPLE DOUBLES - Notre Dame turned three different types of double plays in the win over FAMU: a 6-4-3 (from Lopez to freshman 2B Brett Lilley to Edwards) in the 2nd inning, then a hit-and-run popup that Edwards converted into a 3-U double-play in the 3rd, and finally a lineout to Gruener in the 6th for a 1-3 DP.
EIGHT-SPOT - Notre Dame's impressive 2004 offense included several big-scoring innings and the 2005 Irish already have one of those big innings in the books, after putting eight runs on the board in the 6ths. FAMU ... the inning included 5 hits, 3 walks, 2 HBPs and a costly error ... Edwards led off by going the other way, sending his 21st career home run with the Irish down the rightfield line and over the fence ... Andres then walked on 4 pitches, ending the day for RHP Jamil Knight (5-plus IP, 7 H, 11 R, 5 BB, 3 Ks) ... Dresssman greeted RHP Ciril Mandego by driving an 0-2 pitch through the right side before Rizzo and sophomore C Sean Gaston coaxed full-count walks ... Smith pinch-hit single into the right-center gap played another run and Mandego hit Brezovsky with a 1-out pitch before junior OF Alex Nettey sent a 2-2 pitch into left field for the fourth run of the inning ... Nick Snyder then took the mound and served up a flyout but 3B Michael Sweatt let a groundball go through his legs as two unearned runs came home (Dressman made the error hurt more with a 2-run single into right-center).
WORKING THROUGH THE RUST - Samardzija's 78-pitch outing included just 42 strikes and only one strikeout but he -picked up 10 groundball outs and stranded three runners at 3rd base (plus two more at 2nd) ... with runners on 2nd and 3rd in the 1st, he caught Dan Flaherty looking at full-count pitch for a clutch K ... then, facing the same scenario in the 2nd, the two-sport star rolled up a rightside groundball off the bat of Kevin Cleathen ... Flaherty stroked an RBI triple in the 3rd but Samardzija rolled up another groundball to Lilley, preserving the 3-1 lead (he went on to record his only 1-2-3 inning in the 5th).
FIRST-TIME FOES - Florida A&M became the 284th different opponent faced by the Irish in 113 seasons of college baseball ... the Irish now are 17-1 in their past 18 games vs. a first-time opponent (seven straight wins), dating back to a win over Sam Houston State at the 2001 Alamo Invitational.
BIG OPENINGS - Notre Dame's 7-4 record in season openers during the Mainieri era included three straight one-run wins from 2001-03 but the Irish now have won the past two season openers by a combined score of 25-4.
OTHER ND SCORING INNINGS - The Irish opened the scoring with 3 runs in the 2nd, after Bransfield's leadoff HBP, Rizzo's infield single that sent the SS deep into the hole, Lopez's first-pitch single to left-center (RBI) and Brezovsky's hit through the right side that led to a pair of runs (one unearned, after the RF fumbled the ball) ... the 3-run bottom of the 3rd included Lilley's bases-loaded walk, Edwards pulling a 1-0 pitch that bounced off the leftfield wall and Andres getting hit with a full-count pitch to lead the bases (Dressman then drew a bases-loaded walk before Rizzo and Gaston lifted sac. flies for the 6-1 lead) ... Edwards drew a 2-out walk in the 5th and Andres pulled a 2-1 pitch down the rightfield line for his 13th career HR with the Irish (8-1) ... the lead grew to 9-1 in the 5th, as Rizzo drew a leadoff walk and ultimately scored when Brezovsky sent an opposite-field double down the leftfield line ... the game's final run came in the 8th (Andres hit by first pitch, Dressman single to center, LHP/RF Matt Whittington single up the middle and junior C Nick Mainieri bases-loaded walk).
NEW STARTERS - ND's new starters in the field included Brezovsky turning in an impressive day from the 9-hole (2-for-5, 2 RBI, R) while Lilley walked and scored a run (0-for-4) and Gaston had a hand in four runs (0-for-2, BB, 2 RBI, 2 R).
OPENING-DAY LINEUP - The game-one batting order included Cooper in the leadoff spot, followed by (2) Lilley, (3) Edwards, (4) Andres, (5) Bransfield, (6) Rizzo, (7) Gaston, (8) Lopez and (9) Brezovsky.
FUNGOS - Lopez picked up his 100th career hit with the Irish ... Rizzo has hit 9-for-17 during opening-week games in his ND career (6 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 HBP) ... ND put 5-of-8 leadoff batters on base vs. FAMU and hit 7-for-18 (.389) with runners in scoring position ... ND now is 13-2 in its past 15 games played in the state of Florida (24-5 in the past six years) ... the Irish had averaged just 7.0 runs per game in the 10 previous season openers during the Mainieri era ... the Irish extended the program's second-longest scoring streak to 150 games ... in addition to Edwards (2) and Andres, other ND players who have homered in a Mainieri-era season opener include: Bob Lisanti (Sr., C, '96; at Georgia Tech, 4-12), Dan Leatherman (Jr., 1B, '98; vs. Florida State, in Orlando, 10-1) , Brant Ust (Jr., SS, '99; vs. James Madison, at FIU, 8-4), Matt Bok (Sr., DH, '02; vs. Missouri, @UNO, 7-6) and Kris Billmaier (Sr., RF, '03; vs. Dayton, @ASU, 10-9).