Feb. 19, 2005
ORLANDO, Fla. - Alex Nettey drove a double over the centerfielder's head and scored the winning run moments later on a ground-rule double off the bat of freshman Ross Brezovsky, as the 20th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team completed its rally to avert Florida A&M's upset bid, 4-3, at Bergman Stadium. The Irish lost a low-scoring game earlier in the day to host Central Florida, 2-1.
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Notre Dame (2-1) coped for the third straight game with the absence of its 2004 RBI leader, junior DH Matt Bransfield, who suffered a hand injury early in Friday's season opener.
The Irish scored twice in the 7th inning to forge a 3-3 tie before edging past Florida A&M in the bottom of the 9th. Nettey, who hit 2-for-3 as the starting centerfielder, launched a 1-out, 0-1 pitch that kicked off the centerfield fence for a double. That ended the 120-pitch night for freshman Mike Tavernier and brought on fellow righthander Josh Dean.
The lefthanded-hitting Brezovsky - who earlier had the game-tying RBI vs. UCF and currently leads the Irish regulars in batting average (.500, 6-for-12) and RBI (5) - looked at a fastball away from Dean before turning on an inside fastball and pulling the ball deep into right field for the game-ending double.
Notre Dame and Central Florida (7-1) both squandered several quality scoring chances in the earlier game but the Golden Knights were able to cash in nine hits and seven stolen bases for the decisive 2-1 margin.
Sophomore righthanded reliever Derik Olvey suffered the hard-luck loss while making his first appearance since March 23, 2004 (he missed most of his freshman season due to tendonitis). Olvey, who allowed the game's final run in the bottom of the 7th, was touched for four hits and one walk in three innings (with one strikeout).
Junior lefthander Tom Thornton had no-decision after allowing a single run in his five-inning start. The veteran member of the Irish starting rotation yielded five hits and three walks while striking out three UCF batter in his 71-pitch stint.
Former Santaluces High School teammates Wade Korpi and Joey Williamson - who combine with Brezovsky as Notre Dame's three freshmen from the state of Florida - combined to record all but two of the outs in the win over the Rattlers. The lefthander Korpi drew the start and was responsible for all three runs (two earned), with three strikeouts, five walks and seven hits allowed in his 5.1 innings (82 pitches). Williamson registered the next nine outs - allowing a pair of hits, two walks and a wild pitch that gave FAMU its 3-1 lead (he also had two strikeouts).
Junior All-America closer Ryan Doherty notched the victory after taking the mound with runners on first and second in the top of 9th. Doherty alertly caught the lead man in a rundown and then popped up the next batter to end the threat.
Notre Dame's tying rally in the bottom of the 7th included a one-out single through the left side from junior shortstop Greg Lopez, Nettey's sacrifice bunt and then a pair of first-pitch RBI hits from Brezovsky (on a double to the left-center gap) and fellow freshman infielder Brett Lilley (single up the middle).
Notre Dame put just two leadoff batters on base in the loss to UCF while batting 1-for-9 with runners on base (1-for-7 in scoring position) and 2-for-10 with 2 outs.
UCF junior righthander Mike Billek had no decision despite 6.1 solid innings (4 H, R, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 112 pitches). Sophomore lefthander Brian Brooks (2-1) allowed an inherited runner to score but picked up the win after facing the minimum eight batters over the final 2.2 innings (1 H).
(Note: additional gamenotes and gameday photos follow below the linescores)
#20 Notre Dame (1-1) 0-0-0 0-0-0 1-0-0 - 1 5 2
Doubles (all UCF): Ryan Bono, Butera, John-Michael Howell.
Florida A&M (0-13) 1-0-0 0-1-1 0-0-0 - 3 9 1
TALL TOM TAKES ON TROUBLE - Thornton made several scrambles out of trouble to keep the UCF game tight heading into the middle innings ... in the 2nd, UCF had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs but Thornton set down Marshall Bernhard swinging at an 0-2 pitch before rolling up a 6-4-3 double play ... the Knights again had two in scoring position in the 3rd (2 outs) but Thornton induced a leftside groundout ... runners were at 2nd and 3rd again in the 4th (with no outs) but Bernhard lined out to 2B Brett Lilley before Thornton struck out Chandler Rose (0-2 pitch) and Justin Mahon (3-2), both swinging ... UCF finally scored in the 5th, sparked by Courtney Probst's leadoff single to center field and pair of stolen bases (he scored on Matt Horwath's 1-out single up the middle, on a 2-2 pitch).
IRISH NEAR-MISSES - Notre Dame also had its chances at some big innings ... in the 2nd, junior CF Craig Cooper stroked a first-pitch single to left and moved up on a 2out field error but Billek rolled up a rightside groundout ... Cooper later sent a first-pitch single up the middle in the 5th and advanced on a stolen base and groundout, but Billek struck out the next two batters ... the Irish then loaded the bases in the 6th - after Lilley's 1-out, full-count single through the left side, a wild pitch, a full-count walk by senior 1B Matt Edwards and a 2-out walk by junior RF Cody Rizzo, but Cooper lined out sharply to left field ... the Irish tied the game in the 7th, as sophomore C Sean Gaston was hit by a 1-2 pitch to lead things off before moving up on a stolen base and Greg Lopez's sacrifice bunt ... UCF then brought on the LHP Brooks but Bresovsky worked ahead before slapping a 2-0 pitch through the right side ... UCF answered with the decisive run in the bottom of the 7th, after Matt Ray's leadoff single up the middle (2-2 pitch) and pair of stolen bases (he scored two batters later when Ryan Bono sent a 1-out double into right-center, on a 3-1 pitch).
FANTASTIC FANS - The many Notre Dame fans at Bergman Field this week have include many noteworthy faces, among them: former ND players Brad Lidge (Houston Astros closer), Javi Sanchez (Miami native preparing for spring training with Twins organization) and Jeff Perconte (local lawyer), Tampa Bay Devil Rays owner Vince Naimoli (one of several ND alums who are involved in the top levels of MLB administration) and namesake of ND's home stadium, Frank Eck.
BIG THREE - The freshman duo of Bresovsky (4-for-7, 3 RBI, R) and Lilley (3-for-8, RBI, R) supplied most of ND's offense on Saturday ... Nettey's 2-for-3 effort vs. FAMU combined with the two freshmen for a .500 batting day between the three (9-for-18) but the rest of the Irish veterans hit just .116 combined in the two games (5-for-43) ... Brezovsky had a hand in four of ND's five runs on Saturday.
ADDITIONAL GAME-2 NOTES - The Rattlers opened the game with an unusual run, after a leadoff single, Korpi's errant throw on the sac. bunt (moving the runner to 3rd) and a run-scoring double-play ball ... ND tied the game in the 4th, thanks to a fielding error, Cooper's 2-out walk and Rizzo's RBI single into left field (1-1 pitch) ... FAMU added single runs in the 5th (leadoff bunt single narrowly thrown out, runner scores on hit that falls down RF line) and then the 6th (leadoff walk, sac. bunt, stolen base, wild pitch).
THREE-GAME STATS - ND is batting .284 throught three games, with a 23-8 scoring edge and 7 extra-base hits (2 HRs) ... the .952 team fielding pct. includes 3 errors by the fielders and 3 by the pitchers ... the Irish staff owns a 2.08 ERA and .284 opponent batting avg. but uncharacteristically has totaled more walks (15) than strikeouts (13), in 26 innings.
FUNGOS - ND extended the program's second-longest scoring streak to 152 games ... the ND-UCF series is now tied (3-3) ... the Irish are 14-3 in their past 17 games played in Florida ... Thornton's three career opening-week appearances with the Irish include a 2.61 ERA and .231 opp. batting avg. (2 GS, 1-0, 10.1 IP, 7 Ks, 6 BB, 9-for-39, HB) ... ND's .284 team batting avg. and .952 fielding are nearly identical to the avg. numbers posted during opening week in the 10 previous years of the Paul Mainieri era (.289, .952) but the 2.08 staff ERA is well below the previous 10 team's avg. opening-week ERA of 6.36 (0.57 in '04).