April 28, 1998
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Michigan State junior
lefthander/designated hitter Mike Mulder-who is considered one of
the nation's top professional pitching prospects--tossed four
no-hit innings while providing himself some insurance runs with a
two-run, fifth-inning single as visiting Michigan State held on
to defeat Notre Dame, 4-1, in non-conference baseball action
Tuesday night at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (35-12)--which entered the game having won 51 of its
previous 56 home games-put runners on base in each of the final
three innings but failed to string together the winning rally.
The Irish-who stranded eight baserunners vs. the Spartans-had
pieced together a 23-1 run heading into last weekend but have
since lost two of their last four games.
Irish junior lefthander Chris McKeown (4-2) pitched the first
four and two-thirds innings, allowing four earned runs on nine
hits and two walks, with four strikeouts. Freshman righthander
Aaron Heilman extended his shutout streak to 33 and one-third
innings over his past 18 appearances, notching eight strikeouts
while allowing three hits and one walk over four innings.
Heilman dropped his season ERA to 0.95, which ranks second in
Irish history behind Jack Mitchell's long-standing record mark of
0.71 in 1960. Heilman would be leading the nation in ERA--a
distinction currently held by Florida junior Josh Fogg
(1.29)--but the BIG EAST Conference rookie-of-the-year candidate
is two-thirds of an inning shy of the NCAA required minimum of
one inning pitched per team game (he has logged 46 and one-thirds
Heilman has totaled 62 K's and just 10 walks this season while
leading the squad in low opponent batting average (.182), K's per
nine innings (12.04) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.20).
Michigan State (24-20) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead behind
Mulder's strong pitching before four relievers combined to hold
the Irish to four hits the rest of the way. Mulder (6-4) tossed
four shutout, no-hit innings in a planned rotation, allowing one
walk while striking out five Irish batters.
Sophomore righthander Chris Yens came on to record his sixth save
of the season in the ninth, facing five batters while allowing
two baserunners (one on a hit-by-pitch, the other on an infield
MSU's two-run first inning began when Mike Wagner's single to
right plated Carlos Fernandez, followed by a Joe Kalczynski
sacrifice fly that scored Tom Grigg. The Spartans stretched to a
4-0 lead in the fifth, when Mulder sent a first-pitch offering
from McKeown into center field to score Grigg and Wagner.
The Irish entered the game ranked 10th in the nation with a 3.90
team ERA, thanks to a 2.30 ERA during the previous 16 games (a
15-1 run). The team ERA now stands at 3.91 while Tuesday's
errorless game pushed the team's season fielding pct. to .962--a
full 20 points above last season's mark and the third-best
fielding pct. by an Irish squad since the stat first was recorded
Notre Dame pushed across a run in the sixth, when sophomore Jeff
Felker's one-out single to center field plated junior Allen
Heilman worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the seventh,
blowing a third strike by Mulder before forcing Mike Pisani into
an inning-ending groundout to second baseman Todd Frye.
Notre Dame squandered a two-out rally chance with runners on
first and second base in the bottom of the seventh, when catcher
Joe Kalczynski picked Todd Frye off second base. Then, in the
eighth, Felker battled through an 11-pitch walk to put runners on
first and second with one out but Jeff Wagner grounded into a
4-6-3 double play.
The Irish had runners on first and second in the ninth but Yens
induced Mike Knecht into a game-ending flyout to left field.
Notre Dame has gone without a home run in consecutive games for
just the fourth time this season. Tuesday's four-hit effort
equaled Notre Dame's second-fewest hits in a game this season, as
the Irish had four hits vs. Cincinnati on March 24 and three hits
in the second game of a seven-inning doubleheader vs. Valparaiso
on April 22). Notre Dame has not been shut out this season while
previously being held to one run by only Cincinnati and
Valparaiso (in the first seven-inning game on the 22nd).
MICHIGAN STATE (24-20) 2-0-0 0-2-0 0-0-0 4 12 2
NOTRE DAME (35-12) 0-0-0 0-0-1 0-0-0 1 4 0
Mulder, Murphy (5), Brandell (6), Axelson (8), Yens(9) and Kalczynski.
McKeown, Szczepanski (5), Heilman (6) and Knecht.