April 30, 2006
STORRS, Conn. - Notre Dame and Connecticut both narrowly scored runs in the 5th inning but the pitching staffs then combined for eight shutout innings, as Sunday's matchup of the BIG EAST baseball leaders ultimately was halted in the 13th inning due to a pre-arranged stoppage time (per league policy, to accommodate travel schedules). The game officially is recorded as a 1-1 tie and ends Notre Dame's BIG EAST winning streak at 16 games, two shy of tying the league record set by the 2001 Irish squad.
The game featured a showdown between two of the BIG EAST's leaders in ERA, a rarity for a third game of a series. Notre Dame sophomore lefthander Wade Korpi entered the day with the league's top ERA (1.56) and he lowered that number to 1.53 while seeing his first BIG EAST action of the season, in place of injured senior Tom Thornton. Korpi allowed the single run on six hits and two walks over 7.0 full innings, striking out five of the 28 batters he faced. Junior lefthander Mike Dury then pitched in the 8th while freshman righthander Kyle Weiland closed out the game for his longest outing of the season, striking out seven batters in 5.0 innings with two hits and two walks allowed.
UConn senior righthander Nick Tucci came into the game with a 7-0 record and 2.15 ERA, lowering that number after surrendering an unearned run in 7.2 innings. Tucci allowed five hits and three walks but also hit three Irish batters while striking out two.
The teams combined for 30 baserunners (17 for the Irish) but only two of them came around to score. Notre Dame left the bases loaded in the 5th, 9th and 12th innings.
Notre Dame (35-9-1, 16-1-1 BIG EAST) - which already had clinched a spot in the eight-team BIG EAST Tournament, following Saturday's doubleheader sweep of the Huskies - still has lost just once in its past 25 games versus BIG EAST opponents (23-1-1). Connecticut (28-15-1, 13-5-1) remained second in the BIG EAST standings and next will have a bye-week from league play before looking to join the Irish as teams that have clinched a BIG EAST Tournament spot.
Tucci hit senior centerfielder Cody Rizzo with a 1-out pitch in the fifth and Rizzo swiped second before Tucci plunked leadoff batter Craig Cooper. Brett Lilley then hit a sharp grounder to the right side and Tucci was slow covering the bag, as first baseman Matt Untiet was left without a play on the infield single. The Huskies nearly wriggled out of the bases-loaded situation, after a strikeout and a groundball up the middle - but the shortstop Dennis Donovan bobbled the ball as Jeremy Barnes reached safely and Rizzo came home for the 1-0 lead.
Controversy and a close play at the plate followed in the bottom of the fifth, as the Huskies scored what would be the final run of the game. Donovan reached on a leadoff single to right field and Josh Farkes then was called out after his bunt attempt appeared to nick off the bat and be caught by catcher Sean Gaston. The UConn coaches and Farkes preceded to argue that the batter in fact was hit by the pitch and the umpires ultimately awarded Farkes first base.
That decision ended up being one of several key moments in the game, as Korpi retired the next two batters and could have been out of the inning with a 1-0 lead. Instead, the UConn batting order turned over and leadoff hitter Austin Wasserman sent a single up the middle, with Donovan trying to score from second as Rizzo showcased his strong arm on a throw to the plate. The ball sailed a bit high and to the first-base side, with Gaston's sweep tag narrowly missing the runner as the Huskies tied the game.
The Irish played error-free for the 12th time this season and now have logged four full series versus UConn without a loss (11-0-1). Notre Dame still has lost just once in the past six weeks, going 25-1-1 during that span.
#8 Notre Dame (35-9-1, 16-1-1 BIG EAST) 0-0-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0 - 1 7 0
Connecticut (28-15-1, 13-5-1 BIG EAST) 0-0-0 0-1-0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0 - 1 9 2
Double: Pat Mahoney (UConn).