Baseball Loses Extra-Inning Game to Rutgers 7-6

Irish to face Providence Saturday.

May 15, 1998

NORWICH, Conn. - David DeJesus completed a six-run comeback with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth and Adam Neubart won the game with a 10th-inning single to left field as #1-seeded Rutgers staved off elimination Friday night at Dodd Stadium with a 7-6 victory over #2 seed Notre Dame, handing the Irish their first loss in the double-elimination BIG EAST Baseball Tournament.

Notre Dame (40-16) next faces #4 seed Providence (31-21-1) in an elimination game Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The winner of that game will play Rutgers at 7:00 p.m. for the tournament title and an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Friday's game was eerily similar to Notre Dame's 5-4, third-day elimination game loss to Villanova in 11 innings at the 1997 BIG EAST Tournament (also at Dodd Stadium). That game saw the Irish squander a 4-0 lead with several defensive and execution miscues before losing on Brian Fili's single to left.

Rutgers (31-14)--which beat St. John's 14-10 in an elimination game earlier Friday--saw the Irish jump out to a 6-0 lead with two runs in the second, third and fifth innings, but the Scarlet Knights pieced together a five-run effort in the fifth to set up an exciting finish.

The first nine games of the tournament have featured four one-run games, in addition to RU's opening 17-inning win over Seton Hall (9-6). Notre Dame was on the winning side of two of the earlier one-run games (5-4 vs. West Virginia, 3-2 vs. St. John's) while PC stayed alive Thursday with a 3-2 win over RU.

Irish sophomore lefthander Tim Kalita recovered from the rocky fifth, notching eight strikeouts while allowing five runs on six hits and three walks over his 126-pitch, seven-inning outing. Freshman righthander Aaron Heilman (7-3) took the loss, allowing two runs on three hits and one walk over the final two and two-thirds innings.

RU's Rich Kennedy allowed six runs on eight hits and four walks over the first six innings, with three K's. Fellow senior righthander Keith Connolly faced just 14 batters over his final four shutout innings, recording seven strikeouts while allowing only two baserunners (on a strikeout/wild pitch and an error).

Heilman drilled leadoff hitter Jason Jaworski with a 2-2 fastball in the 10th and RU moved the runner up on Darren Fenster's sacrifice bunt and Brian Ciemniecki's right-side groundout. The right-handed hitting Neubart then reached for the first pitch from Heilman, sending a low linedrive into left field to end the game.

In the bottom of the ninth, Neubart drew a leadoff walk, stole second and took third when the throw from catcher Mike Knecht skipped into center field. DeJesus then delivered his sacrifice fly to deep center field, forcing extra innings.

RU began its comeback in the fifth, loading the bases on a weak leadoff single by Darren Fenster that skipped to the right of diving second baseman Todd Frye and one-out walks by Neubart and DeJesus. Dave Marciniak then hit a sacrifice fly to right and Kalita hit Pete Zoccolillo with a pitch to re-load the bases.

Jake Daubert then worked to a 1-2 count, fouled back the next three pitches and took ball two before sending a weak hit to the right side. First baseman Dan Leatherman fielded the ball and sent an underhand toss to Kalita. But the lefthanded-hitting Daubert slid head-first to barely beat the throw. Chris Dorsett then brought home the third run with a full-count walk before Jaworski sent a two-strike, slow roller past the second base bag to score two more runners for a 6-5 game.

Notre Dame's two-run second inning included Alec Porzel's leadoff walk, Jeff Felker's opposite-field single to left, Frye's first-pitch RBI single through the right side of the infield and Knecht's sacrifice fly to center.

The Irish tacked on two runs in the third, behind J.J. Brock's leadoff bunt, Allen Greene's double down the rightfield line, Brant Ust's sacrifice fly to center and Jeff Wagner's RBI single to left field.

Notre Dame loaded the bases in the fifth, after a leadoff walk by Brock, Greene's double down the rightfield line and an intentional two-out walk by Wagner. Porzel then delivered a two-strike, linedrive single into left field, plating Brock and Green for the 6-0 lead.

NOTRE DAME (40-16)      0-2-2   0-2-0   0-0-0   0   -   6   8   4
RUTGERS (31-14)         0-0-0   0-5-0   0-0-1   1   -   7   9   1
Kalita, Heilman (8) and Wagner.   Kennedy, Collins (7) and Dorsett


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