March 28, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame matched its highest-scoring inning of the season with seven runs in the 2nd while limiting Valparaiso to three hits in nine shutout innings, as the Irish topped the Crusaders, 12-0, in Tuesday-night baseball action at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (13-8) - which posted its third shutout of the season - sent 11 batters to the plate in the 2nd inning, with senior centerfielder Alex Nettey accounting for two of the seven Irish hits during the big output. Eight of the Irish starters and three reserves combined for 13 hits, with the team's 24 total baserunners including three walks and two hit batters.
Sophomore lefthander David Gruener (1-0) picked up the victory as the starter in a planned rotation, facing 11 batters in the first three innings with one hit and one walk allowed to go along with three strikeouts. Three freshmen - righthanders Brett Graffy and David Phelps and lefthander Sam Elam - combined with junior lefthander Mike Dury to complete the three-hitter. The five combined to face only 32 batters (five over the minimum), with nine strikeouts and just three walks.
Tuesday's game marks the fewest hits allowed by a Notre Dame staff since Jeff Samardzija combined with Joey Williamson and Dury in a two-hit effort at Pittsburgh on May 16, 2005. That 21-1 win, played on a Monday due to an earlier rainout, proved to be a key turning point that launched the Irish on their 2005 lateseason push that included beating USC the next day and winning a fourth straight BIG EAST Tournament title.
Valparaiso sophomore righthander Dallas Cawiezell (1-4) - who also started versus the Irish in 2005 - took the loss, after allowing eight runs (six earned) on eight hits, with one strikeout in two innings of work.
Notre Dame scored in the 1st inning for the sixth straight game and now owns a 22-5 scoring edge in the opening frame. Brett Lilley reached on a one-out fielding error by the shortstop and the Irish then hit a pair of groundouts before Jeremy Barnes stole second and scored on Matt Bransfield's full-count single into the right-center gap.
Nettey surprised the Crusaders with a bunt single to the left side that sparked the outburst in the bottom of the 2nd. The switch-hitting Mike Dury then supplied the second of seven hits in the rally by looping a double into shallow right field. Greg Lopez's 32nd career sacrifice bunt (second-most in ND history) then squeezed home the runner, as Cawiezell's throw was too late to stop the sliding Nettey). Lopez moved into a tie with classmate Cody Rizzo for the team RBI lead (19).
Lilley later pulled a first-pitch single down the rightfield line for a one-out RBI and Danny Dressman then went the other way for a run-scoring single down the leftfield line. Barnes parked an RBI double into the left-center gap, Bransfield lifted a sacrifice fly to left field and Ross Brezovsky reached on a single to the left side - with the shortstop's errant throw allowing Barnes to score for the 7-0 lead. Nettey capped the inning with a single to left field, plating Brezovsky as an unearned run.
Nettey's pair of singles gave him 100 hits in his Notre Dame career while Bransfield's single and sacrifice fly pushed his career RBI total to 100.
Valparaiso issued just five free passes in the game (three walks, two hit-by-pitch) but three of them came with the bases loaded in the 8th, as the Irish scored three runs for the final margin.
NOTES - The Irish have posted a seven-run inning in each of their past two home games, also doing so in the 11-9 win over Central Michigan ... other top-scoring innings for ND this season include six vs. Air Force (8th inning) and five in both the second game vs. Iowa (3rd inning) and the first game vs. SIU (8th inning) ... the Irish pitchers have not allowed a home run in the past 16 games while allowing just 3 HRs all season (0.14 per game), ahead of the ND record set in 1975 (0.16; 5 HRs in 31 games) ... the HRs came in three consecutive games, vs. Memphis, Oklahoma and Nebraska ... Dury (0.00, 7.2 IP, 1-0, 7 GP, 4 Ks, 2 BB, 5 H/.208 opp. avg.), Elam (0.00, 7 IP, 6 GP, 10 Ks, 3 BB, 2 H/.087), Graffy (0.00, 4 IP, 3 GP, K, BB, 4 H/.267) and Gruener (1.80, 1-0, 7 GP, 10 IP, 8 Ks, 4 BB, 6 H/.167) own the top ERAs on the 2006 staff ... their combined stats include a 0.63 ERA, a .167 opp. batting avg., a 3.3 K-to-walk ratio (23/7) and 11 more innings pitched (28.2) than hits allowed (17).
Valparaiso (2-13) 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 - 0 3 3
Dallas Cawiezell (L, 1-4), Derek Smith (3), Tony McCombs (7), Aaron Rank (8) and Tyler Lowell, Josh Piazza (6).
Doubles: Dury (ND), Jeremy Barnes (ND), Rizzo (ND).