Irish split doubleheader, take rubber match
By NOAH AMSTADTER
Led by two strong pitching performances and a stellar weekend by shortstop Alec Porzel, the Irish improved their season record to an impressive 18-6 as they won two of three games last weekend against Connecticut in Storrs, Conn.
After splitting a double-header on Saturday afternoon, the Irish proved their resilience by coming back to in a dominating 9-2 victory in the third game against the Huskies. Freshman righthander J.P. Gagne, coming off a short stint in Notre Dame's loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee on March 29, scattered seven hits over seven innings, staying out of trouble and only allowing two Connecticut runners to cross the plate.
"I really hadn't started a game this year where we went out and did that well," Gagne said. "It was nice to go out there and have the offense do so well."
The offense was led by junior shortstop Alec Porzel, who collected four hits, including his third home run of the season, to lead the Irish offense.
"A lot of the guys seemed really comfortable this weekend," Porzel, said. "We were able to concentrate more than we usually do for a weekend series."
Sophomore designated hitter Ken Meyer, who has recently been moved up to the leadoff spot in the lineup, added three hits.
"Kenny hasn't played much. I put him in and he really sparked our team with three base hits," head coach Paul Mainieri said.
Senior John Corbin recorded the final five outs of the game to earn his 14th career save — a Notre Dame record.
The Irish also received a gutsy performance from junior co-captain Aaron Heilman Saturday. Heilman recorded his fifth win of the season in the first game, pitching his fourth complete game while allowing just two runs to go along with his six strikeouts as the Irish won 8-3.
Heilman allowed two runs in the third, as the Irish fell behind 3-2. Heilman, however, buckled down to shut out the Huskies over the last four innings.
"It was a very courageous performance by Heilman," said Mainieri, "He didn't lose poise after falling behind and ended up taking control of the game again after we rallied to score some runs for him."
In the second game, the Irish struggled as their predominantly left-handed line-up was only able to push one run across the plate against Connecticut freshman left-hander Jesse Carlson. The Huskies won by a final score of 8-1.
Senior Scott Cavey lost his first game of the season, allowing seven earned runs on eight hits in four-plus innings.
On a brighter note, sophomore righthander Matt Buchmeier, who struggled against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, recorded the final 12 outs, allowing no runs while striking out three batters.
The Irish scored their only run in the fourth inning, as Porzel scored on a sacrifice fly by catcher Paul O'Toole.
Notre Dame begins a stretch of nine straight home games this week.
The team takes on Ball State today, Valparaiso on Wednesday and IUPUI on Thursday before Big East opponent Boston College visits Frank Eck stadium for three games this weekend.
Freshman Matt Laird starts today against the Cardinals, while Mainieri will use a variety of pitchers on Wednesday before starting righthander Drew Duff on Thursday.
"We're 18-6 yet we've played all but three games away from home. That's pretty remarkable," said Mainieri. "Now we have a streak of nine straight home games. Hopefully we can take advantage of being able to play in the friendly confines of Frank Eck Stadium."
All three games will be broadcast on the Internet at www.und.com as well as on WJVA 1580 AM.
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, April 4, 2000