April 5, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Matt Edwards hit his 10th home run of the season and Steve Andres added his fourth, as the long ball accounted for all but one of Notre Dame's runs in Tuesday's 6-2 win over Toledo at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (14-12) improved to 7-1 at home this season while quickly getting back on the winning track after Monday's pair of tough losses at Rutgers, just the seventh time that the Irish have been swept in a BIG EAST doubleheader (spanning 10 seasons).
With two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the 3rd, Edwards connected on a 3-0 pitch and drove it over the fence in right-center for an opposite-field home run. It marked the 200th hit and 30th home run of his Notre Dame career while pushing his RBI total to 166, placing the senior corner infielder in 10th place on the Irish career RBI list (he could return for a fifth year in 2006 and currently is 55 RBI shy of tying the record, held by '93 graduate and All-America centerfielder Eric Danapilis). Edwards now stands alone in 10th place on the Irish career home runs list, edging ahead of Danapilis, while his 10 home runs this season are halfway to matching the Irish record (20) set by Frank Jacobs in 1991.
Edwards - who went on to match his career-high for hits in a game (4-for-4) - now has totaled 39 RBI in 25 games this season, putting him on pace for 87 RBI in the 56-game regular season. Another former ND All-America centerfielder, Dan Peltier, holds the team record for RBI in a season after driving in 93 runs in 1989.
Toledo (7-18) - coached by former Notre Dame player and assistant Cory Mee, whose '05 staff includes another past Notre Dame great in J.J. Brock - plated two runs in the top of the 5th to forge a 3-2 game but Andres reclaimed those runs moments later, driving a 1-2 pitch over the fence in dead-center field. Centerfielder Drew Hoistington made a leaping stab for the ball but could not make the catch, with his glove falling over the fence after the strong attempt to steal the home run.
Andres has struggled with his offensive consistency this season, entering the game with just a .208 season batting average, but his 11 hits now include four home runs and a pair of doubles (plus five singles). The junior leftfielder actually owns a solid .860 season "OPS" (.379 on-base pct. plus .481 slugging pct.), thanks to his extra-base hits, nine walks and five times hit-by-pitch.
Freshman lefthander Wade Korpi (3-0) picked up the win after allowing one earned run and an unearned run in six innings. Korpi was touched for six hits and also hit three batters but he did not issue a walk while striking out three in his 91-pitch outing,
Sophomore righthander Joe Roberts (0-2) took the loss as the first of two Toledo relievers. Roberts was charged with all six runs after allowing seven hits and no walks (but two hit batters), with two strikeouts.
The next few games could see Edwards climb past several ND greats on the run-producing and power charts. He needs just 11 RBI to jump past a group of four players - former teammate Brian Stavisky (168; '00-'02), Brant Ust (170; '97-'99), Brock (174; '94-`97) and Joe Binkiewicz (176; '89-'92) - into 6th place on that list, while Paul O'Toole (31; '99-'02) is next on the home run list, just two behind Binkiewicz and Stavisky (33).
Junior centerfielder Alex Nettey hit safely leading off the 7th to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, equaling the longest by a Notre Dame player since Steve Stanley's 16-game hitting streak in 2000 (Steve Sollmann also had a 15-game hit streak, in the '03 season).
Freshman rightfielder Tony Langford entered the game with a team-best .378 season batting average and raised that number to .396 (now second behind Edwards' .398) after batting 2-for-3 vs. the Rockets.
Roberts hit Nettey with the first pitch he threw in the 3rd before freshman second baseman Brett Lilley reached on a first-pitch bunt single to the third-base side. Edwards then took three pitches outside the zone before launching his fifth home run at Eck Stadium this season (14 of his career HRs now have come at home, with 16 on the road).
Jake Swint's one-out infield single started Toledo's scoring sequence in the 5th. Hoisington then sent a slow roller to the left side and the first baseman Edwards failed to hold shortstop Ross Brezovsky's one-bounce throw. Joel Visser followed with an RBI single to center field and Nettey's misplay allowed the runners to take an extra base. Ryan Laude's sacrifice fly later scored Hoisington for an unearned run and a 3-2 game.
In the bottom of the frame, Edwards sent a first-pitch single through the left side to extend the inning. Andres watched Edwards steal second and was behind in the count (1-2) before driving the 16th home run of his Irish career over the centerfield wall for a clutch two-out hit.
Notre Dame tacked on a run in the 7th and could have pushed home more insurance, instead leaving the bases loaded. Nettey led off with his single to left-center and Lilley was hit with the next pitch, ending the night for Roberts. Edwards then greeted righthander Ben Lovell by driving another single through the left side and Toledo held the fort when Andres pulled the ball to the right side (Nettey was forced out at home) - but Matt Bransfield grounded the next pitch to the third baseman and beat out the potential double play to score Lilley for the 6-2 lead.
Senior righthander John Axford - who missed all of the 2004 season while rehabbing from elbow surgery - is slated to make his first start in nearly two years, when Notre Dame plays host to Ball State in a makeup game on Wed., April 6 (5:05 p.m. EST) that will feature free admission. Ball State traditionally has played Notre Dame tough during midweek action and already owns three wins over the Irish at Eck Stadium, plus a memorable 15-inning game last season that saw the Irish rally from a 6-3 deficit for a 7-6 win (Chris Niesel pitched 8.1 innings out of the bullpen to spark the comeback).
Ball State is one of only eight teams ever to beat Notre Dame at Eck Stadium more than twice - and the Cardinals are one of three non-BIG EAST teams on that list that includes: West Virginia (5-5 vs. ND at Eck), St. John's (5-7), Univ. of Miami (4-1), Rutgers (4-8), Ball State (3-2), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (3-8), Pittsburgh (3-9) and Boston College (3-10). Of the eight teams listed above, only BSU and Miami own a winning record vs. the Irish at The Eck.
UPDATED TEAM NOTES: Lilley was hit by a pitch for the 16th time this season, already 3rd in the ND record book behind the 28 and 21 HBPs posted by current junior RF Cody Rizzo in the previous two seasons ... Nettey (his 8th, trailing only Lilley's 16 and Rizzo's 10) and Greg Lopez also reached via HBPs vs. Toledo, pushing ND's season total to 61, already 5th-most in ND history (106 in '04, 75 in '93, 74 in '03, 69 in '96) ... the Irish batters are averaging 2.4 HBPs per game and are on pace for 131 in the 56-game regular season, which would best the NCAA record (125) set by Nevada in 1997 ... Lilley (1-for-3, HBP) saw his season on-base pct. dip to .530, just below the ND season record held by Danapilis (.531, in '91) ... Edwards boosted his season slugging pct. to .767, which would rank 2nd in ND history behind Dan Peltier's .783 in '89 ... Edwards (13 BB, 5 HBP) has compiled a 1.247 season OPS that would rank 2nd in ND history behind Peltier's 1.296 in '89 (and just ahead of Ryan Topham's 1.239 in '94) ... ND has started 7-1 ('04, '05) or better (8-0, in '03) at home during each of the past three seasons and owns an .815 all-time win pct. in 11 seasons at Eck Stadium (273-62) ... the Irish also started 7-1 or better at home in '96, '97, '99 and '01 ... ND's best undefeated starts at The Eck include 12-0 in '99, 11-0 in '03 and 9-0 in '96 ... top 1-loss starts at Eck Stadium: 19-1 in '01, 17-1 in '97, 16-1 in '99, 12-1 in '96 and '03, 8-1 in '04, and 7-1 in '05 ... Edwards - who hit 3 HRs in a game vs. Western Michigan last week - was the batter in the hole when the Toledo game ended, denying his chance at a 5-hit game (he earlier had 4-hit games vs. St. John's and Creighton, both on the road, in '03) ... Jerry Sheehan (in 1906) and Ust (in '98) are the only ND players ever to have a 5-hit game and 3-HR game in the same season while Binkiewicz did it in different seasons (5 hits in '89, pair of 3-HR games in '91) ... Edwards - who played sparingly as a freshman due to an early-season broken leg (4 RBI in 9 GP) - now is tied with a pair of early-1990s teammates, Jacobs ('89-'91) and Craig Counsell ('89-'92), for 10th on the ND career RBI list ... Edwards essentially is a third-year player and his 166 RBI trail the three-year totals from only three previous ND players: Peltier (202), Ust (170) and Stavisky (168) ... others three-year RBI totals for the players on the career top-10 list are as follows: Jacobs (166), Jeff Wagner (163), Alec Porzel (152), Danapilis (136), Mike Amrhein (131), Brock (124), Binkiewicz (121) and Counsell (103) ... Edwards is averaging 1.05 RBI per game in his ND career (158 GP), with only Peltier (1.17) owning a better RBI per-game avg. among the 11 other elite run producers listed above ... other career RBI per-game averages among the above players are as follows: Danapilis (1.04), Stavisky (0.98), Wagner (0.96), Ust (0.95), Amrhein (0.95), Jacobs (0.89), Porzel (0.88), Binkiewicz (0.81), Brock (0.73) and Counsell (0.70) ... Edwards also has reached 30 home runs in essentially three seasons, something just five other ND players have done: Ust (46), Wagner (41), Jacobs (37), Topham (34) and Stavisky (33) ... each of those players, with the exception of Stavisky, had the benefit of hitting with the old bat standards ... Edwards is averaging a home run every 5.3 games of his ND career ... among the other top-11 home run hitters in ND history, Topham (5.1), Jacobs (5.1) and Stavisky (5.2) narrowly hit home runs at a greater clip than Edwards while Ust (3.9 games per HR) and Wagner (4.0) are the clear leaders in that area ... other games per HR averages: Amrhein (5.8), Binkiewicz (6.4), Porzel (6.5) and O'Toole (7.7) ... Edwards (203) remains 43 hits shy of that ND career top-10 list (he has 41 hits this season) while his .582 career slugging pct. now ranks 10th in ND history (his career OPS, on-base pct. plus slugging, has climbed to 1.015 and includes 73 walks) ... Edwards now is hitting at a .351 clip for his Irish career, just shy of the ND top 12 on that list (.355).
Toledo (7-18) 0-0-0 0-2-0 0-0-0 - 2 8 0
Notre Dame (14-12) 0-0-3 0-2-0 1-0-X - 6 10 3