Irish wins highlight young pitchers, sophomore talent
Backed by strong performances by young pitchers, the Notre Dame baseball team (24-8) won two of three non-conference home games this week, beating Toledo and Bowling Green, while falling to Purdue.
Sophomore right-hander Drew Duff (2-1) pitched six impressive innings and Andrew Bushey bashed his first home run of the year as the Irish defeated Toledo 6-3 Thursday.
After hitting an RBI double and scoring in the third, sophomore third baseman Bushey knocked an opposite field home run over the left field wall.
Bushey's home run was the third of his career, and his first at Eck Stadium. Fellow sophomore Ken Meyer also cashed in with a pair of RBI's and has seven hits in his last 11 at bats.
Freshman Brandon Viloria started for the Irish, setting down the first six batters before being relieved by Duff. Sophomore Duff allowed six hits and three runs over the next six innings while striking out two. Senior John Corbin pitched the ninth for his seventh save of the year and school record 16th of the year.
The Irish pitching staff, which entered the week ranked sixth in the nation in team ERA, lowered that number to 3.02 with Thursday's victory.
A two-run second inning was all the Irish needed Wednesday as they defeated Bowling Green 2-1 behind five strong relief innings by sophomore Matt Buchmeier.
The Irish scored their only two runs in the second despite having no hits in the inning. Bowling Green pitcher Aaron Nease (1-1) loaded the bases, hitting Bushey, walking sophomore Matt Strickroth, and hitting senior captain Jeff Perconte. Bushey then scored on a sacrifice fly by sophomore DH Ken Meyer.
Bowling Green second baseman Kenny Bundine then made an errant throw on Steve Stanley's ground ball, allowing Strickroth to score the winning run.
Buchmeier (3-1) earned the win for the Irish, throwing five scoreless innings of relief, and combined with three other Irish pitchers to limit the Falcons to four hits. Bowling Green's only run of the game came on a Sean Ryan home run off starter J.P. Gagne in the second.
Head coach Paul Mainieri described the performance of the young pitchers as one of the highlights of the week.
"We had several young guys who really pitched well," Mainieri said, "Matt Buchmeier pitched fantastic for five innings."
Senior righty John Corbin pitched the ninth for Notre Dame, collecting his sixth save of the season.
Corbin's third strike to first batter Alan Gilhousen skipped past the catcher, allowing Gilhousen to reach first.
Back to back infield grounders moved the tying run to third before Corbin retired Matt Marcum on a groundout to third.
Two costly errors were all that kept Notre Dame from an undefeated week, and the Purdue Boilermakers took advantage of Irish mistakes and won 7-5 Tuesday.
Five Boilermaker batters drove in runs in the victory, and freshman Chadd Blasko (2-1) tossed six solid innings. Freshman Matt Laird (3-2) took the loss for the Irish.
Trailing 7-5 in the ninth, the Irish rallied and had two runners on base before Purdue's senior closer Andy Helmer came on with his 1.45 ERA.
Helmer got junior shortstop Alec Porzel to line into a double play — ending his 15 game hitting streak — and retired Paul O'Toole to end the game.
This weekend the Irish will travel to Morgantown, West Virginia, for three games against Big East rival West Virginia.
Alec Porzel will look to continue his hot hitting this weekend. The junior shortstop is coming off a career-long hitting streak and has four home runs in seven games against the Mountain-eers.
Notre Dame leads the all-time series 18-9 and has won eight of the last ten meetings between the teams — including wins in each of the last three Big East tournaments.
However, Mainieri does not expect the Mountaineers to roll over.
"Every time we play a conference game it's a dogfight," Mainieri said, "We know we're going to have three dogfights this weekend."
The Irish will play a double header on Saturday and another on Sunday in West Virginia before coming home to play a twilight double header Tuesday vs. Chicago State.
All Sports Stories for Friday, April 14, 2000