April 2, 1998

Porzel, Leatherman Lead Notre Dame Baseball Past Western Michigan, 8-1

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Freshman leftfielder Alec Porzel and senior first baseman Dan Leatherman came up with the big hits while Notre Dame's top six hitters suffered through a combined 1-for-18 day as the Irish won for the sixth straight time, 8-1 over visiting Western Michigan, in non-conference baseball action Wednesday at Eck Stadium.

Notre Dame (16-9)--which is 33-4 at home over the past two seasons--scored three runs in the second before tacking on a run in the fourth and two each in the sixth and seventh. Junior righthander Alex Shilliday (4-2) picked up the win in a planned rotation, opening the game with two shutout innings and four strikeouts while allowing one hit and one walk.

Western Michigan (5-14) was only outhit 6-4 but the Broncos pitchers totaled nine walks and six wild pitches. The game was delayed 35 minutes due rain and played with a light sprinkling of rain throughout the final innings.

The Irish pitching staff combined for a season-high 14 strikeouts, pushing the staff's season average to 8.43 strikeouts per nine innings--fourth-best in Irish history and highest in 35 years, since the 1963 staff averaged 8.68. Sophomore lefthander Tim Kalita pitched two innings with three K's before junior lefthander Chris McKeown had one strikeout in two innings while allowing the only WMU run. Sophomore righthander Scott Cavey struck out four while shutting out the Broncos in the seventh and eighth and freshman righthander Aaron Heilman had two K's to close out the game.

Shilliday now has a BIG EAST Conference-leading 51 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 43 innings of work while Heilman has totaled 25 K's and just six walks in 21 and one-third innings. Shilliday (2.93) and Heilman (2.11) continue to post impressive season ERAs while the Irish team ERA (4.92) has dipped below five for the first time since Feb. 14. The Irish staff owns a 2.52 ERA during the six-game winning streak.

Sophomore righthander Chris Simon (0-1) took the loss, recording just one out while allowing three runs on two hits and two walks.

Porzel hit a leadoff single in the second and moved up on Todd Frye's sacrifice bunt before scoring on Leatherman's single to right field. Leatherman then stole second and took third on a wild pitch and Allen Greene walked before a second wild pitch from Simon allowed Leatherman to score and Greene to take third. J.J. Brock then walked, ending Simon's day, and Jeff Felker greeted senior righthander John Busch with an RBI single to left.

Leatherman hit a leadoff single in the fourth, moved up on wild pitch and groundout, and scored on Brock's groundout. Notre Dame's two-run sixth included walks by Frye, Ben Cooke and Greene, two wild pitches, a passed ball and Brock's sacrifice fly.

The Irish capped the scoring with two runs in the seventh, as Porzel brought home Jeff Perconte with his second home run of the season, sending a first-pitch offering from senior lefthander Eric Place over the fence in left-center field.

Porzel entered the game mired in a 2-for-18 slump, with a .226 overall batting average, six RBI and 11 runs scored in 20 games played. His 2-for-4 day boosted his average to .242. Leatherman is hitting a pleasantly surprising .328 as the team's #9 batter, with 11 RBI and 16 runs scored in his 20 games.

Greene saw his 11-game hitting streak come to an end, despite drawing three walks (he went 0-for-2). Greene has hits in 21 of Notre Dame's 25 games this season. Sophomore third baseman Brant Ust's seven-game hitting streak ended with an 0-for-4 game Wednesday.

WESTERN MICHIGAN (5-14)  0-0-0  0-0-1  0-0-0   1   4   0
NOTRE DAME  (16-9)       0-3-0  1-0-2  2-0-X   8   6   1

Block, Simon (2), Busch (2), Place (6), Palazeti (8) and Seestadt, Ramsdell (7). Shilliday, Kalita (3), McKeown (5), Cavey (6), Heilman (9) and Wagner.

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