April 18, 1999
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Junior shortstop Brant Ust's bases-loaded, eighth-inning double completed a long Notre Dame comeback while junior righthander John Corbin worked out of jam in the ninth as the Irish outlasted visiting Boston College, 11-8, in a soggy BIG EAST Conference series finale Sunday at Eck Stadium that featured three hours and six minutes of rain delays.
Notre Dame (28-9, 14-2 BIG EAST) posted its 14th from-from-behind victory of the season-including eight in the last 15 outings-while winning in its last at-bat for the 12th time in 1999. The comeback helped the Irish retain their cushion atop the BIG EAST standings over second-place Rutgers (12-4), which posted a 9-3 home win over Villanova.
Boston College (14-15, 4-9) claimed an early lead for the third straight game, with five runs in the first and four in the second, but the Eagles went on to commit six errors that led to four costly unearned runs.
The game's first delay came in the top of the fifth and lasted 36 minutes, with BC holding a 7-1 lead. The game was halted again with one out in the top of the seventh, as BC was looking to build on its 8-5 lead with a pair of runners on base. The teams resumed play at 5:20 p.m., following a delay of two hours and 30 minutes.
The game fittingly showcased two of the BIG EAST's top players in bases-loaded situations with the game on the line. Ust delivered with his game-tying double that nearly cleared the fence in right-center field while BC senior first baseman Sean McGowan provided the game's final out on a ball that sent leftfielder Matt Nussbaum to the fence.
Notre Dame's decisive rally came in the five-run eighth, with Steve Stanley, Paul O'Toole and Alec Porzel each drawing one-out, full-count walks versus sophomore righthander Erik Olson (0-3). BC then elected to bring on junior lefty Brendan Nolan to face the All-American Ust, who worked to a full count of his own before launching a two-run double off the fence in right-center. Nussbaum's groundout to the drawn-in shortstop plated O'Toole with the go-ahead run and Jeff Wagner then was walked intentionally to re-load the bases.
The Irish added two unearned runs, after McGowan stunningly bobbled Jeff Felker's slow roller, with second baseman Mike Gambino throwing the ball away for a double error that allowed Ust to score. Ben Cooke then drilled an RBI single up the middle, with Gambino ranging far to his right but unable to make a play.
Corbin (6-1)-who also has seven saves this season-caught a break in the ninth when Nussbaum threw out Eric Olsen trying to stretch a single into a double. Pinch-hitter Chris Rosado then struck out swinging but Ust bobbled a routine groundball from Mike Hubbard. Walks by Mike Quirk and Steve Langone loaded the bases for McGowan, who entered the day with a .450 batting average and 19 home runs in 28 games. Corbin fell behind 3-0 but bravely came back with a strike down the middle, followed by a strike on the inside corner. McGowan sent the next pitch into the humid air, with a slight breeze helping keep the ball in the park before it landed in Nussbaum's glove.
Irish senior righthander Alex Shilliday allowed seven runs (six earned) on five hits and five walks over three and two-thirds innings. Shilliday's four strikeouts give him 239 for his career, moving past Al Walania (236, 1990-93) into fourth place on the Irish all-time strikeouts list. Langone allowed five runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks over six innings, with three Ks. The senior righthander also drew a walk and scored a run as the DH.
BC's first-run explosion began when Quirk sent a one-out double to right-center. Langone then walked and McGowan singled to center before a wild pitch allowed a run to score. Jeff Waldron was walked intentionally, again loading the bases, and Joe Kealty followed with a groundball to the right side. But the second baseman Porzel bobbled the ball in anticipation of the double play, allowing a run to score on just his seventh error of the season. Jarrett Mendoza sent a two-run single through the right side, and Gambino plated Kealty with a two-out single up the middle. BC tacked on two more in the fourth, when Quirk scored Olsen and Hubbard with a one-out double to left.
The Irish pushed across a run in the fourth, after O'Toole's leadoff single to right-center, Ust's one-out walk, an errant pickoff throw by Langone, Wagner's two-out intentional walk and a throwing error from the third baseman Olson on a groundball from Felker.
Notre Dame added two in the fifth, sparked by Ed Golom's leadoff single through to left-center and Stanley's drag bunt that pulled McGowan well off first base. McGowan then couldn't come up with a backhander on O'Toole's slow roller and Porzel lifted a sacrifice fly to center before Ust's RBI double down the leftfield line. But Langone forced Nussbaum into a chopper back to the mound (with O'Toole out on the play) and the centerfielder Mendoza made a sliding catch on Wagner's blast to the warning track in right-center.
The Eagles added a run in the sixth-versus sophomore lefty Mike Naumann and freshman righthander Drew Duff-after a double by McGowan and Kealty's RBI single up the middle. The Irish then plated two in the bottom of the inning, behind Cooke's one-out single up the middle, Olson's fielding error on Golom's sacrifice bunt, Stanley's RBI single through the right side and O'Toole's sacrifice fly into rightfield foul territory.
The Irish tacked on a run in the seventh, when Nussbaum hit a one-out single up the middle and moved up on Wagner's groundout. The lefthanded-hitting Felker then made BC pay for its major right-side shift by slicing an opposite-field double into left field.
NOTES: Ust's 2-for-4 day pushed his career average in BIG EAST regular-season games to .435 (91-for-209), ahead of the BIG EAST record (.432) set by Seton Hall's Marteese Robinson from 1985-87 Ust extended his hitting streak to 15 games, equaling his career best (he had a 15-game game streak in April of 1997) ... Ust's pair of doubles give him 47 in his career, seventh all-time at Notre Dame and just behind Joe Binkiewicz (48, 1989-92), Wagner (50) and Craig Counsell (50, 1989-92) Notre Dame has plated the winning run in the final inning six times this season and in the second-to-last inning six times (all at home) the 28 Irish wins include just two by five-plus runs (seven by one run, five by two, nine by three and five by four) in other BIG EAST action: Seton Hall (8-7) dropped from third to fifth place after losing a 10-8 game at home to fourth-place Providence (9-7), St. John's (9-7) edged up to third place with a 14-5 home win that dropped Pittsburgh (8-8) to sixth, and Connecticut (7-9) moved into a tie with Villanova for seventh place after a 7-5 home win over last-place Georgetown (2-14) ... the Irish have outscored the opposition 36-9 in the fifth inning this season.
BOSTON COLLEGE 500 201 000 8 11 6
NOTRE DAME 000 122 150 11 11 3
Shilliday, Naumann (4), Duff (6), Corbin (7) and O'Toole.
Langone, Olson (7), Nolan (8) and Waldron.