Jan. 31, 1998

Irish Rallies Fall Short in 10-8 Loss to North Carolina State

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - North Carolina State scored seven runs in the bottom of the eighth while a grand slam by junior catcher Jeff Wagner in the top of the ninth proved to be too little, too late, as the Wolfpack held on for a 10-8 victory over the Irish in second-day action Saturday night at the ACC/Disney Baseball Blast, held at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex.

Notre Dame (1-1)--which beat #23 Florida State 10-1 on Friday--came back from an early 3-0 deficit to claim a 4-3 lead on a solo home run from sophomore third baseman Brant Ust in the top of the eighth. But NCSU (1-1)--which suffered a 23-6 opening loss to Tennessee--pushed across seven runs in the bottom of the inning, thanks to four walks, three hit batters, two doubles and a single.

Junior righthander Whitney Hughes (1-0)--the fourth of five Wolfpack pitchers--recorded the final two outs in the eighth and first two in the ninth to pick up the victory. Sophomore righthander Steve Szczepanski (0-1) was the hard-luck loser, allowing two earned runs on three hits over three-plus innings, with two strikeouts. Irish sophomore lefthander Tim Kalita scattered eight hits and no walks over the first four innings, allowing three runs (two earned) while totaling six strikeouts. Junior righthander Bubba Scarce threw six and one-third innings for the Wolfpack, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and no walks, with eight K's.

NCSU--playing its first ever game against Notre Dame--pushed across an unearned run in the second, when junior shortstop Todd DeMakes singled, stole second, took third on a passed ball and scored when Irish senior shortstop J.J. Brock misplayed a groundball off the bat of Craig Lee. The Wolfpack added a pair of runs in the third behind leadoff doubles from junior catcher Andy Ferguson and senior rightfielder Jake Weber and an RBI single from junior third baseman Brian Ward.

The Irish began their comeback in the fifth. Wagner reached on an error to open the inning and moved up on a single by junior centerfielder Allen Greene before scoring on a two-out single to right-center by sophomore DH Larry Zimont, who was making his first career start for the Irish. Notre Dame tacked on a run in the sixth, after senior second baseman Todd Frye singled, stole second and scored on Ust's single to left. The Irish tied the game in the seventh, when freshman leftfielder Alec Porzel stroked a leadoff triple to right-center--the first hit of his Notre Dame career--before trotting home on a sacrifice fly from Zimont, ending Scarce's day. Sophomore lefty Chris Carter and sophomore righthander Grant Dorn each recorded an out to get NCSU out of the eighth.

Ust--who set the Notre Dame freshman home run record last season (11)--greeted Dorn in the eighth with a leadoff shot that smacked off the scoreboard in left-center field for a 4-3 Irish lead. Wagner then singled, Greene walked and Jeff Felker hit an infield popup before Hughes took the mound and induced Porzel into an inning-ending double play.

Szczepanski yielded a leadoff double by Ward and a single by junior first baseman Luis Figuero to open the bottom of the eighth before giving way to senior righthander Dan Stavisky. But DeMakes delivered a game-tying single and the runners moved up on a wild pitch before Stavisky walked junior DH Chris Conrad. Lee then hit a grounder to Frye, who threw home to force out Figuero, but senior centerfielder Jimmy Slaughter delivered a two-run double down the rightfield line. Brad Piercy then drew an intentional walk and Weber drilled a sacrifice fly to center before NC State pulled off the double steal and Keith Walsh walked, ending Stavisky's day.

Sophomore righthander Scott Cavey had a rough 1998 debut, hitting Ward with a bases-loaded pitch before walking Figuero and hitting DeMakes with a pitch, pushing home Walsh with the 10th Wolfpack run.

Zimont was hit by a pitch to open the ninth, Frye walked with two outs and Ust hit an infield single before Wagner smacked a grand slam to right-center, chasing Hughes. But the righthanded Konrad induced Greene into a game-ending groundout to first base.

NOTES: Wagner's home run was the 28th of his career, moving him into a tie for sixth in Irish history with Tim Hutson (1985-88) and Dan Peltier (1987-89), one behind Eric Danapilis ('93) ... Saturday's other scores: Duke 22, Tennessee 12 and FSU 6, Ohio State 4 (Duke beat OSU 8-7 on Friday).

NOTRE DAME (1-1)            000 011 114 -    8  11  1
NORTH CAROLINA STATE (1-1)  012 000 07X -   10  13  1

Kalita, Szczepanski (5), Stavisky (8), Cavey (8) and Wagner;
Scarce, Carter (7), Dorn (7), Hughes (8), Conrad (9) and Ferguson, Piercy.

W - Hughes (1-0).
L - Szczepanski (0-1).

HR - ND 2: Ust (solo, 7th, 1st of season), Wagner (3 on, 9th inn., 1st of season).
3B: ND 1 (Porzel).
2B: NCSU 4 (Weber, Ward, Slaughter, Ferguson).

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