Oct. 18, 2007
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - A six-run bottom of the first proved to be the difference, as the Gold team held on to defeat the Blue, 7-5, in the third and final game of the Notre Dame baseball team's annual Blue-Gold intrasquad series. The Gold had lost the first game of the series on Tuesday (8-1) but battled back to win Wednesday's game-2 (3-1) before claiming game-3. It marks the first time in recorded Blue-Gold Series history (since 2001) that a team has lost the first game and come back to win the series. The young Gold squad featured four freshmen and six sophomores (two of them newcomers) among its 13 position players.
Seven different Gold batters combined on a 10-hit attack in the series finale, as the Gold took the series despite having only one veteran starter among its position players. The unlikely heroes included sophomore centerfielder David Mills - who hit 2-for-4, scored twice and stole a base from the leadoff spot (in addition to logging a shutout inning on the mound) - and his classmate Will Harford, the third baseman and 8-hole hitter who went 2-for-3 with an RBI double and run scored in the high-scoring inning.
For the second straight day, a pair of freshman righthanders took the mound. Ryan Sharpley had to work out of some jams but picked up the win, after allowing four runs on four hits, a pair of walks and two hit batters (he also struck out three in a 63-pitch outing that included 37 strikes). Junior righthander Kyle Weiland allowed a two-out double but picked up his third career save in Blue-Gold Series action, after closing things out in the seventh.
Evan Danieli - who pitched well after the rocky first inning - took the loss, charged with the six runs on seven hits and two walks while uncorking a pair of wild pitches. Danieli struck out two of the Gold batters but managed to locate only 55% of his pitches for strikes (39 of 71).
Clutch hitting played a key role in the decisive third game, as the Blue went 0-for-4 with the bases loaded, 3-for-16 with runners on base and only 2-for-14 with men in scoring position (plus just a pair of 2-out hits). The Gold countered by totaling four different 2-out hits while batting 8-for-17 with men on base and 5-for-12 with them in scoring position.
The Blue actually opened the game with a run, despite a double-play ball rolled up by Sharpley. Leadoff batter and senior shorstop Brett Lilley was hit by a pitch (one of his four HBPs in the series) before scooting to third on fifth-year DH Sean Gaston's opposite-field single to left field and scoring on A.J. Pollock's leftside groundball (6-4-3 DP).
The Gold quickly responded, as Mills sent a 1-1 pitch up the middle and sophomore newcomer Matt Grosso deposited a 1-0 pitch into left-center field for the RBI double from the lefthanded-hitting DH. Sophomore rightfielder Billy Boockford later worked ahead in the count (2-0) before singling to center to plate Grosso with the go-ahead run. Freshman catcher Mike Scioscia then coaxed a full-count walk and yet another newcomer, shortstop Mick Doyle, followed with an opposite-field, RBI double to right field (1-0 pitch).
With runners on the corners, frshman first baseman David Casey plated the fourth run on a groundout to the right side and Harford then jumped on a 2-0 pitch, driving the left-center gap for a 5-1 lead. Yet another youngster, sophomore second baseman Herman Petzold, capped the big inning by going the other way on an 0-1 pitch for a run-scoring single into right field.
Senior leftfielder Ross Brezovsky - the Gold's only position player with any extensive playing experience on the college level - became a rare three-time champion in the Blue-Gold Series, after playing on earlier winning teams in 2004 (Gold) and 2005 (Blue).
The Blue chipped away with two runs in the third and single runs in both the fourth and fifth. Lilley's four-pitch walk sparked things in the third, with the sophomore centefielder Pollock later adding an RBI single through the left side while freshman first baseman Ty Adams placed an opposite-field single down the rightfield line. The bases were loaded with no outs but the Blue managed only one more run - when the home-plate umpire ruled that Scioscia had not touched the plate as part of an attempted 5-2-3 double play (the run scored and no outs were recorded).
Sharpley then minimized the damage by rolling up the same groundball (to force out Pollock at the plate) before striking out Eddy Mendiola and inducing Cameron McConnell's groundball up the middle - with Petzold ranging far to his right and making the throw to first, maintaining the 6-3 cushion.
Lilley dashed around the bases for a first-pitch, leadoff triple in the fourth (to right-center) before scoring on Gaston's rightside groundout for a two-run game. The lead shrunk again in the fifth, when freshman lefthander Joe Spizzirri hit the leadoff batter Adams with a 1-0 pitch. Junior second baseman Jeremy Barnes then earned a five-pitch walk and Brayden Ashdown bunted the runners over before pinch-hitter Ryne Intlekofer executed the squeeze bunt to the left side (for a 6-5 game).
The Gold finally added an insurance run in the sixth, after a single by Mills, Bill Warrender's sac. bunt, a stolen base and Brezovsky's full-count single to right-center.
Intlekofer - the sophomore second baseman who also played left field in the series - kept the Blue alive with two outs in the seventh and final inning, after stroking a first-pitch double to left-center. But McConnell grounded out to the shortstop Doyle, ending the game.
Lilley scored half of the Blue's runs, in the losing effort.
Sharpley allowed three leadoff batters to reach base but did not allow a 2-out hit while also rolling up six groundouts in his four innings of work. Danieli let only one leadoff man reach but was hurt by three 2-out hits from the Gold. After facing 10 batters in the tough first inning, Danieli faced only 12 over the next three innings (when his nine outs included four groundouts, a foulout and a strikeout)
Second-year Notre Dame assistant coach Sherard Clinkscales saw his Gold squad come out on top, after his Gold group came up a little short in the 2006 BGS. Volunteer assistant coach Graham Sikes had an impressive debut as a manager in the BGS, with his team posting a blowout win and losing twice by two-run margins.
Colin Burns (Irish Eyes) and Vince Dadario (ESPN 1490) served as the media guest coaches, respectively with the Blue and Gold squads.
The Gold hit .286 in the series while scoring four runs, with the team's other three-game offensive stats including four doubles, 10 walks, 13 Ks and a pair of stolen bases. The Gold players combined to make five errors while their pitchers posted a 4.29 series ERA (12 Ks, 12 BB).
Grosso - in his first BGS action - totaled the most hits in the series (5-for-10, RBI, 2 R, 2B, 2 Ks) while Mills also hit .500 (3-for-6, 3 R, 2 BB, K, SB) and Doyle added a .333 effort in the series (3-for-9, RBI, 2 R, 2 K, SAC, 2 E).
The Blue actually outscored the Gold in the series (14-11) but hit only .253, with most of their damage coming via six extra-base hits (HR, 3B, 4 2B) and 19 free passes (12 BB, 7 HBP). The Blue's other offensive stats included 12 Ks and four stolen bases - while the fielders made four errors and the Blue pitchers had a 4.50 staff ERA (13 Ks, 10 BB).
Intlekofer's .444 average led the Blue hitters (4-for-9, 2 RBI, R, 2 2B, 2 Ks, 2 SAC) while three others each hit 3-for-8: Adams (RBI, R, 2 BB, HBP, 3 Ks), Pollock (2 RBI, 4 R, 2B, 3 BB, 2 SB) and Lilley (RBI, 4 R, 3B, BB, 4 HBP).
Gaston ended his BGS career as a .310 career hitter in the series (13-for-42, 7 RBI, 10 R, 3B, 3 2B, 4 BB, K, SB). Pollock has combined to hit just shy of .500 in two BGS appearances (.471, 8-for-17) while factoring into 13 different runs in those six games (7 RBI, 7 R, HR, 2 2B, 3 BB, 4 SB, SAC, K).
Other career BGS stats of note belong to Mills (.500, 6-for-12, RBI, 6 R, 4 BB, 3 SB, 4 Ks, 2 E), Barnes (.313, 5-for-16, 7 RBI, 4 R, 3 2B, 7 BB, 2 HBP) and Intlekofer (.333, 6-for-18, 2 RBI, 4 R, 2 2B, 2 SAC, 4 K, 2 E).
In addition to his three saves, Weiland now owns a 3.49 career ERA in the Blue-Gold Series. His five BGS appearances (one start) have featured 12 Ks and only a pair of walks, plus 11 hits allowed, three hit batters and a wild pitch in 10.1 innings.
ND Blue (1-2) 1-0-2 1-1-0 0 - 5 6 1