April 26, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Wade Korpi has been Notre Dame's midweek master all season long and he did nothing to change that on Tuesday night at Eck Stadium, as the sophomore lefthander matched his career-high of 11 strikeouts, at one point retired 17 straight and ultimately limited Purdue to one hit and an unearned run in an impressive seven-inning performance that helped deliver a 2-1 victory for an Irish squad ranked as high as 8th in the national polls. Notre Dame (33-8) improved to 19-1 at home this season while extending the longest winning streak in the program's history to 23 games.
Purdue (21-15) scored its unearned run in the first inning - forcing Notre Dame to play from behind for the ninth straight game - but the Irish quickly took the lead on Greg Lopez's two-run double in the bottom of the second. Notre Dame has trailed 15 different times during the win streak but those deficits have spanned a total of just 24 and a half innings, with 11 of the deficits being erased in quick fashion (1.5 innings or quicker).
Senior first baseman Craig Cooper saw his hitting streak end at 21 games, after going 0-for-4 with a flyout and three groundouts. Cooper already had owned a share of the longest hitting streak in the 12-year Paul Mainieri era at Notre Dame and recent research has indicated that the 21-game hitting streaks of Cooper and Mike Amrhein (in '97) appear to be the longest in the program's 114 seasons of varsity competition.
Purdue manufactured their run thanks to an error, a hit batter and a hit that squeezed through the infield. Mitch Hilligross reached to open the game after third baseman Brett Lilley bounced the throw to first. Spencer Ingaldson then showed bunt on a 1-2 offering and was hit by the pitch. Korpi struck out Eric Wolfe but the cleanup hitter John Hunter delivered the RBI single on a ball that skipped past between Lilley and the shortstop Lopez for what would be the only run of the night for the visitors.
The Boilermakers lead was shortlived, as the Irish put two runs on the board in the second inning versus senior righthander Trae Dauby (2-4; 6 IP, 2 R, BB, 6 Ks). Junior catcher Sean Gaston started things by pulling a 2-2 pitch through the right side for a one-out single. Matt Bransfield then dropped a 2-2 pitch into his defensive area of left field and Alex Nettey's groundout put both runners in scoring position before Lopez connected on a 1-2 pitch, slicing an opposite-field double that carried away from the centerfielder.
Korpi retired 17 straight after Purdue's early run, including five straight 1-2-3 innings. The 17 consecutive outs included 10 strikeouts, five groundouts, a flyout and an infield lineout. Hunter then walked to start the seventh but Korpi responded with three straight strikeouts to cap a 99-pitch outing that included 66 strikes.
Junior lefthander Mike Dury retired all three batters he faced in the eighth and freshman righthander Kyle Weiland closed things out in the ninth for his 11th save in 12 chances this season, leaving him two shy of J.P. Gagne's record for saves in a season by a Notre Dame pitcher. Hunter's two-out single prevented the staff from posting the first one-hitter by an Irish staff since Chris Niesel's 1-0 win over West Virginia in a seven-inning game at Eck Stadium on May 3, 2003.
Notes - Korpi struck out seven different Purdue batters and totaled three of his Ks looking ... he entered the week ranked 15th in the nation with 11.60 Ks per 9 IP (now 11.94) and 28th in ERA (1.80, now 1.56) ... his other season stats also now include a .187 opponent batting avg., a 4.3 K-to-walk ratio (69/16) and 18 more innings pitched (52) than hits allowed (34) ... Korpi also had 11 Ks earlier this season in his three-hit solo shutout of Western Michigan ... he is the 11th ND pitcher ever to post multiple double-digit K games in his career and the seventh to do so in the same season (the first since Danny Tamayo had five games with 10-plus games and Aaron Heilman had two in the 2001 season) ... Cooper entered the week ranked 8th in the nation with a .441 batting avg. (now .429) and 26th in runs (50) ... Weiland was 10th on the NCAA saves charts heading into this week's action while junior RHP Jeff Manship is 33rd in Ks per 9 IP (10.35) ... the Irish entered the week ranked 4th in the nation for win pct. (.800, now .805; 33-8) while ranking 14th in both batting avg. (.339) and staff ERA (3.33), plus 16th in fielding pct. ... ND and Nebraska remain the only teams ranked in the top-20 of the batting, ERA and fielding charts.
Purdue (21-15) 1-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 - 1 2 0
#8 Notre Dame (33-8) 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-X - 2 6 1