May 16, 1998
NORWICH, Conn. - The #2-seeded Notre Dame baseball team fought off elimination with a 9-7 victory over Providence College before falling to #1-seeded Rutgers, 12-0, Saturday in the championship game of the BIG EAST tournament.
Notre Dame (41-17) now awaits a possible at-large bid in the NCAA tournament (to be announced Monday afternoon on ESPN). Rutgers (32-14) earns the BIG EAST automatic bid to the NCAAs.
Sophomore righthander Scott Cavey (2-0) beat PC in relief of junior lefthander Chris McKeown. Cavey allowed three runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings, with three strikeouts. Freshman righthander Aaron Heilman allowed one hit while recording the final five outs for his ninth save of the season. Heilman, appearing in his sixth straight game for the Irish, had two strikeouts while lowering his season ERA to 1.61.
PC freshman righthander Mike Stuart (3-5) took the loss, allowing five runs on six hits and two walks over the first four innings.
Providence (31-22-1) scored four runs in the third before the Irish rallied for their 18th comeback win of the season. Sophomore designated hitter Larry Zimont stroked his third homerun of the season in the fourth, a 2-out, 3-run shot to the opposite rightfield.
The Irish surged ahead with four runs in the fifth inning, highlighted by senior shortstop J.J. Brock's 13th homerun of the season (a 2-run blast to dead-centerfield) and Alec Porzel's RBI single.
The Irish tacked on two crucial runs in the seventh, as PC would rally for three runs in the eighth. Jeff Wagner's single off Mike Galligan scored Allen Greene before Porzel greeted senior righthander Marc DesRoches with a single to center, scoring Brant Ust.
Rutgers senior righthander Mike Mundy--who pitched 4 2/3 innings as the starter in Wednesday's 17-inning win over Seton Hall--answered the call on just 2 days rest. Mundy's 125-pitch shutout effort included seven strikeouts, just six hits allowed and three walks.
Irish junior righthander Alex Shilliday (9-5) who also was working on two days rest after an 8.2 inning outing in Wednesday's win over West Virginia--took the loss allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits, with six K's.
The Irish stranded ten runners on base while seeing the #3-#6 hitters go a combined 0-13.
Rutgers totaled sixteen hits while stranding twelve runners. Junior second baseman Dave Marciniak, who was named the tournament MVP, was one of three RU players with three hits, in addition to 3 RBI. Marciniak's leadoff homerun in the fifth was followed by a solo shot by Pete Zoccolillo, igniting a 7-run inning that produced an 11-0 lead.
Rutgers (32-14) 201 170 100- 12 16 1 Notre Dame (41-17) 000 000 000- 0 6 1 Mundy and Dorsett, Waleck (9). Shilliday, OiHagan (5), Szczepanski (5), Carlin (8) and Knecht. Notre Dame (41-16) 000 340 200- 9 14 3 Providence (31-22-1) 004 000 030- 7 15 0 McKeown, Cavey (4), Heilman (8) and Wagner. Stuart, Galligan (5), DesRoches (7) and Friedholm.