April 26, 2006
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Bowling Green jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the second inning and added some key runs later in the game to offset Notre Dame's rally, as the Falcons defeated the Irish 11-8 to end Division I baseball's longest winning streak of the 2006 season at 23 games. The loss also halts one of the longest winning streaks in the history of the Notre Dame varsity athletics, with the 23-game run by the Irish baseball team taking its place alongside a 33-game win streak in softball (in 2001), the top-ranked women's soccer team's 24-game run in 2000, the women's basketball team's 23 consecutive wins during its 2001 national championship season, and the Irish football program's 23 straight wins spanning the 1988 (national champs) and '89 seasons.
(Note: see a full listing of top win streaks in ND athletics history, included below.)
Notre Dame (33-9) - which nearly completed an unbeaten 12-game homestand while losing for the first time in the month of April - had closed the gap to 9-7 in the seventh inning but Bowling Green (22-17) pushed across a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth before ultimately leaving the tying run on deck to end the game for the 8th-ranked Irish.
To put Notre Dame's 23-game winning streak in further perspctive, last week's results alone included 22 of the teams in the baseball writers top-30 national poll losing at least one game. Of those teams, 18 lost at least once to an unranked or lower-ranked team. Teams in the NCBWA top-30 combined for 49 losses last week (35 of them coming vs. unranked/lower-ranked teams) while six top-30 teams already have joined the Irish with losses this week to lower-ranked teams. Also of note is that the fact that Irish continue to play five games a week at this time of the season while most of the other ranked teams are playing four (and sometimes only the three weekend games).
The Irish had 26 total baserunners in the game but managed to bring home fewer than one-third of those runners, with 14 stranded on base. Notre Dame also made three errors (all in the second inning), marking just the sixth time all season that the Irish have totaled more than two errors all season.
Bowling Green made three key defensive plays - a diving outfield catch, a runner thrown out at the plate and a groundball headed for center field that ended up being a forceout at second - to help provide the final margin of victory while keeping the Irish offense from staging a big inning.
Four Notre Dame batters each had two hits, including surging senior catcher Cody Rizzo (3 RBI, 2 R). The Irish finished with 13 hits but fell to 24-3 this season when totaling double-digit hits, as Bowling Green became just the fourth team to score 10-plus runs versus Notre Dame this season.
Bowling Green claimed its 7-0 lead in the second inning, thanks to six hits and the three Irish errors that made two of the runs versus sophomore lefthander David Gruener (1-1) be unearned. Chris Gacom's two-run single and a two-run double off the bat of Kurt Wells represented the big hits in the big inning for the Falcons.
Unearned runs now have played a key part in more than half of Notre Dame's nine losses this season, including the opening-week defeats versus Memphis (6-7; 3 UERs) and Oklahoma (3-4; 2 UERs), the 10-8 loss to Iowa near the end of the Spring Break trip (3 UERs), the 4-2 loss to Wright State in the home opener (1 UER) and Wednesday's loss to Bowling Green.
The Irish never trailed in the win streak for more than four-and-a-half innings and did not face a deficit of more than three runs during the 23-game streak.
Notre Dame began to chip away with three runs in the fourth, with Matt Bransfield reaching on an infield single and lefthander Dan Horvath plunking Ross Brezovsky before Alex Nettey's walk loaded the bases. Rizzo's RBI groundout then plated the first run and Craig Cooper coaxed a full-count walk before Brett Lilley brought home another run on his own RBI groundout. Danny Dressman capped the three-run burst by pulling the first pitch he saw through the right side of the infield for a 7-3 game. Righthander Garret Klotts then took the mound and lost Jeremy Barnes to a walk but Sean Gaston's groundout left three runners stranded.
Gacom's two-out single plated one of two runs for the visitors in the fifth (pushing the lead to 9-3), with the Irish adding a run of their own in the bottom of the inning. Ross Brezovsky hit a one-out double and scored on Rizzo's two-out single to right field, with Rizzo taking second base on the throw. Cooper then sent a sinking linedrive to right field but Andrew Foster made the lunging catch to keep the damage at one run.
The Irish had several missed chances in the sixth, after Lilley's leadoff single and Dressman's walk had the home team poised to make a move - but Nick Cantrell rolled up a double-play ball and threw out Gaston at the plate (he had hit an RBI single and tried to score on Matt Bransfield's RBI double to left field).
Notre Dame scored for the fourth straight inning in the seventh, plating two runs for the 9-7 score. Brezovsky drew a leadoff walk and Alex Nettey sent a 1-2 pitch into center field before both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Rizzo and Cooper then followed with RBI groundouts, cutting the lead to 9-7.
The Irish were poised to creep closer in the eighth versus lefthander Brett Browning, after a one-out single from Jeremy Barnes and Bransfield's two-out walk. Brezovsky then hit an apparent RBI single up the middle, but the shortstop Ryan Shay made a diving stop behind the bag and shoveled to the second baseman to halt the rally.
The Falcons added some breathing room thanks to a pair of two-out RBI hits in the ninth, with the Irish staging one final rally versus righthander Tyler Johnson when Rizzo singled and scored on Cooper's double to the right-center gap. Dressman walked to bring the tying run to the plate but Johnson ended the game with a strikeout for the 11-8 win.
Freshman righthader Dusty Hawk (1-0; 3 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 Ks) picked up the victory in a planned rotation.
WIN STREAK OVERVIEW - The Irish hit .353 during the 23-game win streak, averaging 8.6 runs per game with a .499 team slugging pct. (20 HR, 6 3B, 44 2B), a .442 on-base pct. (106 BB, 31 HBP, 88 Ks), 30 stolen bases and 32 sac. bunts ... the ND pitchers owned a 2.81 staff ERA during the win streak (79 total runs allowed/3.43 per game), with a .227 opp. batting avg., a 3-to-1 K-to-walk ratio (192/62) and 36 more innings pitched (208) than hits allowed (172, with just 5 HR) ... ND had a .972 fielding pct. in the win streak (24 Es) ... top hitters in the win streak included: Craig Cooper (.476, 40-for-84, 27 RBI, 9 HR, 3B, 8 2B, 32 R, 12 BB, 3HBP, 5 Ks, 6 S, Greg Lopez (.440, 33-for-75, 20 RBI, 17 R, 3B, 4 2B, 4 BB, 3 HBP, 4 K, 2 SAC, 2 SB) and Brett Lilley (.418, 28-for-67, 12 RBI, 15 R, 2 2B, 15 HR, 3 3B, 6 2B, 5 SAC, 2 SB) ... top pitchers in the win streak included: Wade Korpi (0.26 ERA, 4-0, 5 GS, 34.2 IP, 44 Ks, 10 BB, 14 H/.125 opp. avg.), Jess Stewart (1.12, 3-0, 8 GP, 16 IP, 9 Ks, 3 BB 16 H/.262), Kyle Weiland (1.93, 2-0, 10 GP, 6 SV, 14 IP, 13 H/.245, 10 Ks, 5 BB) and Jeff Manship (2.17, 3-0, 4 GS, 29 IP, 28 Ks, 8 BB, 20 H/.190) ... the streak included 12 blowout wins (by 5-plus runs) and the Irish scored 14 times in the first inning ... ND totaled 0-1 errors in 18 of the games during the win streak ... the Irish outhit the opponents in 20 of the 23 games during the streak, reached on 48% of the time when leading off the inning and batted .366 with runners in scoring position ... ND dominated the middle innings during the win streak, with a 104-12 scoring edge from the 4th to the 6th innings (37-3, 37-2, 30-7) .. the win streak spanned 31 days and included and was part of 19 straight wins at Eck Stadium (18).
Longest Winning Streaks in Notre Dame Athletics History (for sports with team-based competition)
33 - Softball (March 28-May 10, 2001), ranked #8, ended with 2-1 loss to Seton Hall in BIG EAST Tournament opener
26 - Men's Soccer (Sept. 20, 1977 - Oct. 3, 1978) ... first two seasons, several games vs. non-Div. I teams
24 - Women's Soccer (Aug. 27-Nov. 24, 2000), earned #1 rank early in season, lost 2-1 to UNC in NCAA semifinals
23 - Baseball (March 25-April 26, 2006), ranked as high as #8, ended with 11-8 loss to Bowling Green
23 - Women's Basketball (Nov. 11, 2000-Feb. 17, 2001), ranked #1, ended with 54-53 loss at #11 Rutgers
23 - Football (Sept. 10, 1988 - Nov. 25, 1989), ranked #1, lost 27-10 at #7 Miami in final game of regular season
22 - Men's Basketball (final 11 games in 1932-33, first 11 in 1933-34)
22 - Men's Basketball (1908-09)
21 - Football (Nov. 16, 1946 - Dec. 4, 1948)
20 - Softball (April 1-27, 2003)
20 - Women's Basketball (Dec. 11, 1999-Feb. 26, 2000)
20 - Football (Oct. 5, 1929 - Oct. 10, 1931)
20 - Football (Oct. 4, 1919 - Oct. 8, 1921)
Other ND team-based sports top winning streaks (varsity seasons)
Volleyball - 17 (Oct. 24-Nov. 22, 1986)
Hockey - 14 (Dec. 11, 1987 - Feb. 13, 1988)
Women's Lacrosse - 14 (April 22, 2003 - April 17, 2004)
Men's Lacrosse - 9 (April 1-May 26, 2001 and March 18-May 1, 1992 and
Top Winning streaks for ND sports with individual-based competition
* Men's Fencing has totaled 15 all-time win streaks of 20-plus dual matches (10 of 24 or better): 122 ('75-'80), 98 ('84-'88), 90 ('00-'04), 50 ('90-'93), 46 ('89-'90), 37 ('97-'98), 37 ('93-'95), 31 ('67-'68), 26 ('73-'74), 25 (`57'-'59), 23 ('99-'00), 23 ('81-'82), 22 ('83-'84), 22 ('04-'05) and 21 ('81).
* Women's Fencing has seven all-time win streaks of 20-plus (five above 23): 75 ('93-'96), 42 ('86-'88), 41 ('03-'04), 38 ('97-'98), 35 ('90-'92), 26 ('05-'06) and 21 ('89-'90).
* Men's Tennis had a 29-match win streak (May 5, 1965 - April 29, 1967) and a 23-match streak from March 28, 1971 - April 9, 1972.
* Women's Swimming had a 16-match win streak from Nov. 4, 2000 - Oct. 30, 2002.
* Women's Tennis: 20 (Sept. 9, 1979 - Oct. 4, 1980)
* Men's Swimming: 11 Feb. 23, 1974 - Feb. 15, 1975
Note: no winning streak data for teams that don't typically compete head-to-head (cross country, track and field, golf, rowing)
Bowling Green (22-17) 0-7-0 0-2-0 0-0-2 - 11 16 1
Dusty Hawk (W, 1-0), Dan Horvath (4), Garret Kloots (4), Nick Cantrell (6), Brett Browning (6), Tyler Johnson (8) and Josh Stewart, Mike Barnard.