May 18, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Baron Frost's leadoff home run in the top of the 6th ended a scoreless game and the #20 USC baseball team went on to a 9-3 win over Notre Dame, earning the Trojans a split of their midweek series with the Irish on Wednesday night at Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame (30-22-1) - which completed a rare stretch of playing five games in four days - next takes a well-deserved day off from competition before looking to secure a spot in the four-team BIG EAST Tournament during the three-game series vs. West Virginia at Eck Stadium (May 20-21).
Sean Gaston's single scored Craig Cooper from second base in the bottom of the 8th, extending the second-longest scoring streak in Notre Dame history to an even 200 games. An 11-0 loss to Rutgers on May 5, 2002, is all that stands between the Irish and what would rank as one of the longest scoring streaks in NCAA history (431 games), as the ND-record 230-game scoring streak ended in that Cinco de Mayo loss to the Scarlet Knights.
The Irish suffered from their first three-error game in the past 11 games, leading to six unearned runs for the Trojans.
Freshman second baseman Ross Brezovsky hit 2-for-4 to extend his recent surge at the plate, as the 9-hole hitter has batted 7-for-12 in the past three games (3 RBI, 5 R, BB, 3 Ks). Junior centerfielder Alex Nettey had a busy day on defense, showing his tremendous range to run down nine flyballs all over the field.
Freshman lefthander Wade Korpi (4-2) thwarted USC scoring chances throughout the first half of the game before suffering the hard-luck loss. Korpi allowed just one earned run (two un earned) on five hits, two walks and a hit batter in 5.0-plus innings, with a pair of timely strikeouts.
Junior righthander Josh Fogel (1-0) picked up the win as the third of five USC pitchers, striking out three and allowing just one hit in 3.0 shutout innings
Notre Dame put runners aboard in each of the first four innings but failed to score. Steve Andres pulled a 2-out single into right-center in the 1st and Matt Edwards followed with a walk, but senior RHP Brett Bannister induced a rally-ending popup. Bannister came back with a 2-out strikeout in the 2nd (after a Brezovsky single) while freshman RHP Anthony Encinas worked out of trouble in the 3rd, after issuing walks to Brett Lilley and Matt Edwards (the threat ended on another popup). Tony Langford reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the 4th and moved up on Nettey's bunt, but Encinas escaped by forcing a pair of foulouts to the catcher.
Korpi had similar success escaping jams through each of the first five innings. He negated a walk that started the game by inducing three straight flyouts before overcoming a pair of two-out singles in the 2nd by getting Roberto Lopez to go down looking at an 0-2 pitch. Korpi plunked a batter with one out in the 3rd and USC advanced the runner on a groundout, but Korpi served up another flyout to end the threat.
A leadoff walk and sac. bunt gave the Trojans another chance in the 4th but two more flyouts closed another opening. The visitors then added a leadoff single in the 5th but Korpi avoided further trouble with a groundout and two more flyouts.
Korpi was locked in a full-count battle to start the 6th but Frost sent the next pitch over the leftfield fence for his third home run of the season. Matt Cusick then reached on an error and Hector Estrella's single ended the night for Korpi. With sophomore lefthander Mike Dury on the mound, a passed ball moved Estrella into scoring position and Darin Vieira followed with a two-run single into the left-center gap for a 3-0 lead.
USC returned the error in the bottom of the 6th but Fogel rolled up a double-play ball to quickly end the inning.
The visitors cashed in four unearned runs to claim a 7-0 lead in the 7th, with Zach Kalter's pinch-hit double bringing home two runs while another scored on a bases-loaded balk. Lucas Duda's two-run double then extended the lead to 9-0 in the 8th.
Notre Dame averted the rare shutout by scoring in the 8th. Senior righthander Richard Aguilar hit Craig Cooper with a 2-2 pitch and Matt Bransfield delivered with two outs, reaching on a pinch-hit single off the glove of the diving third baseman Billy Hart. Gaston then sent an opposite-field single through the left side to keep the scoring streak alive.
The Irish closed the game with a pair of runs vs. sophomore RHP Paul Koss. Brezovsky pulled a one-out single into right field and pinch-hitter Eddie Smith drew a walk before Cooper plated both runners with a double into the left-center gap.
Senior righthander John Axford returned to the mound as the fourth and final Notre Dame reliever, after being slowed in recent weeks due to a shoulder injury. Axford recorded the final four outs for the Irish, with a walk and a strikeout.
USC (33-16) 0-0-0 0-0-3 4-2-0 - 9 12 2
Brett Bannister, Anthony Encinitas (3), Josh Fogel (5; W, 1-0), Richard Aguilar (8), Paul Koss (9) and Jeff Clement.
Home Run: Baron Frost, USC (solo in 6th, 3rd of season).