March 22, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first inning but Central Michigan closed to within 10-9 in the sixth, as the Irish ultimately held on for their eighth win in the past 10 games, 11-9, in Wednesday-night baseball action at Eck Stadium.
Junior righthander Jess Stewart (1-1) picked up the win as the first of four pitchers who came on in relief of David Phelps. Another freshman righthander, Kyle Weiland, recorded the final six outs for his fifth save of the season.
The middle-infield combination of sophomore second baseman Ross Brezovsky (3 RBI, run scored) and senior shortstop Greg Lopez (RBI, R) both went 3-for-5 from their respective 7th and 8th spots in the batting order, as part of five Irish players who totaled multiple hits on a night that saw both teams register 15 base hits.
Central Michigan (9-9) opened the night with a run after Cody Allen singled and came around to score on a groundout, balk and another groundout.
Notre Dame (10-7) then erupted for seven runs on six hits, an error, a walk, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly - with freshman lefthander Ben Rodewald (2-1) knocked from the game after facing just seven batters. Brezovsky provided the big hit with a two-run single while Jeremy Barnes, Sean Gaston, Lopez and Cody Rizzo also had run-scoring hits to help account for the seven runs.
The Irish had not scored more than two runs in the first inning of a game this season prior to Wednesday night's early outburst. Notre Dame now owns a decisive 16-3 scoring edge in the first inning of games this season, its largest scoring margin in any inning other than the eighth (21-6).
The visitors scored their second run in the third - with an untimely balk again helping move the runner around - but Notre Dame answered with three runs for a 10-2 lead. The inning included Rizzo reaching on a hit-by-pitch and stealing second while Craig Cooper walked, Brett Lilley hit an opposite-field single to left, Barnes drew a bases-loaded walk and Gaston pulled a two-run single into right field (ending the night for another freshman LHP, Dan Taylor).
The Chippewas came right back to score five times in the fourth, with a two-run double from James Teas and a two-run single off the bat of J.T. Jones serving as the big 2-out hits that produced a 10-7 game. Stewart came on with two outs and two runners aboard, allowing a run-scoring single from Trot Moratti but also inducing a groundout to leave two runners stranded on base.
CMU chipped away with a run in the fifth and an unearned run in the sixth, versus junior lefthander Mike Dury. With the tying run on second and the go-ahead runner on first, sophomore righthander Joey Williamson took the mound and caught Scott Szpryka looking at a curveball for the rally-ending strikeout.
Notre Dame plated an insurance run in the eighth, after Alex Nettey's two-out single up the middle, a stolen base and Brezovsky's opposite-field single into left-center.
Weiland faced just eight batters over the final two innings, allowing a pair of hits but striking out three in the 28-pitch outing.
Cooper saw his nine-game hit streak come to and end with just one official at-bat, adding three walks and a sacrifice fly from the top of the order. The senior first baseman has hit in the No. 1 spot for the past 10 games and has reached when leading off the inning 12-of-19 times (.632), with that sparkplug output including a pair of walks vs. CMU. Cooper's 10 starts as the leadoff batter also have seen him reach in the first inning 9-of-10 times, with three singles, three walks, a pair of doubles and one time hit-by-pitch.
Rizzo was hit-by-pitch twice in the game, giving him 73 HBPs for his career - still fourth in Division I history but just one behind former Texas first baseman Jeff Ontiveros (who ended his career at the 2002 College World Series, in the bracket opposite Notre Dame).
Nettey was hit-by-pitch for the ninth time this season and now ranks ninth in ND history with 28 career HBPs.
Gaston now is batting 4a-for-5 in the first inning this season, with a triple, double and a walk during that early-game production.
Central Michigan (9-9) 1-0-1 5-1-1 0-0-0 - 9 15 3
Ben Rodewald (L, 2-1), Dan Taylor (2), Andy Wingert (3), James Ricchio (7), Mike Kirschenheiter (8) and Brian Campbell.
Doubles: James Teas 2 (CMU), Scott Szpyrka (CMU), Troy Moratti (CMU).