April 27, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Matt Bransfield continued to swing a hot bat and seven Irish pitchers combined on the shutout as the Notre Dame baseball team extended its unbeaten streak to nine games with Wednesday's 5-0 win over Manchester College.
Notre Dame (25-15-1) - which has lost just once in its last 13 games - saw its batters hit-by-pitch six times, the most since nine Irish players were hit-by-pitch in the season opener vs. Florida A&M. Over the course of the 39 games in between, the Notre Dame offense has racked up 77 other HBPs for a season total of 92 that already ranks 14th in Division I baseball history.
The Irish are averaging 2.24 HBPs per game and now are on pace for 126 in the 56-game regular season, which would break the record (125) set by Nevada in 1997.
Notre Dame improved to 16-3-1 at home this season and concludes a 13-game homestand this weekend vs. Cleveland State, with games on Friday night (6:05) and Saturday afternoon (1:35).
Bransfield - who missed 18 games after breaking his hand in the season opener - doubled twice, including a two-run stroke to the right-center gap. The junior, who started at catcher vs. the Spartans, now has surged to third on the team with a .327 season batting average.
Sophomore lefthander Mike Dury (1-0) picked up the win as part of a planned rotation, after retiring every batter he faced in the 4th-6th innings.
Junior rightfielder Cody Rizzo was hit-by-pitch for the 61st time in his career, moving him into sixth place in NCAA Division I history. The Notte Dame batters also totaled seven HBPs two days earlier, in the doubleheader versus Villanova.
Freshman lefthander David Gruener drew his first start of the season and worked out of a 1st-inning jam, ultimately allowing two hits and two walks while adding a pair of strikeouts in 3.0 innings of work.
Sophomore righthander Jess Stewart - who has been slowed during the past month due to a minor knee injury - retired two of the three batters he faced in the 7th before four other relievers followed him to the mound. Notre Dame used most of its available pitchers (aside from those who threw on Monday or are being saved for the CSU series), with sophomore righthander Jeff Manship (finger) and senior righthander John Axford (shoulder) hoping to return to action in upcoming games (Manship remains day-to-day while Axford likely will be sidelined for two more weeks).
Freshman third baseman Brett Lilley added two HBPs to his team-leading total and now has been plunked 19 times this season, still third in Notre Dame history but just two behind Rizzo's 2004 total (Rizzo had 28 HBPs in '03).
Sophomore righthander Eric Teall (1-2) took the loss after allowing four runs on four hits and one walk in 5.0 innings (2 Ks).
The 2005 Notre Dame offense is the first in the program's history to feature four players with 12-plus HBPs - as Rizzo, Greg Lopez and Craig Cooper each have 12 (Alex Nettey is not far behind, with 11) to go along with Lilley's 19.
Notre Dame struck early for its 41st first-inning run of the season, after Nettey's four-pitch walk, Lilley's sac. bunt, a stolen base and an RBI groundout off the bat of Matt Edwards.
Lilley led off the bottom of the 4th by slapping an opposite-field single through the left side and motored to third when Edwards drove a 3-0 pitch into the left-center gap, for his 14th double of the season. Teall then hit Cooper with a full-count pitch (his fifth HBP in the past three games) and Bransfield delivered with one out, driving a 1-2 pitch deep to right-center for the two-run double. Rizzo added a sacrifice fly for the 4-0 lead.
Notre Dame's final run came in the 7th, after righthander Tyler Sluss hit Rizzo with the first pitch, Eddie Smith followed with a single through the left side and Lopez hit an RBI groundball.
Manchester (21-8) 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 - 0 4 0
Eric Teall (L, 1-2), Marcus Miller (6), Travis Sluss (7)m Tyler Wolfe (8) and Greg Hollenbaugh.
Doubles: Bransfield 2 (ND), Matt Edwards (ND).