Wind helps Irish blow past Falcons in 6-inning game
By BRYAN KRONK
Even though the Irish won the battle, Mother Nature won the war.
In a rain-shortened game that was called in the top of the seventh inning, Notre Dame's baseball team squeaked out a 3-2 victory over Bowling Green Wednesday night.
"I thought Ryan Kalita did a marvelous job against a really good-hitting ball club," Irish coach Paul Mainieri said.
After the game's start was delayed for about an hour due to rain, wind and lightning, Kalita pitched himself into a jam in the top of the first inning, giving up two doubles and a single to give the Falcons an early 1-0 lead. While the damage easily could have been much worse for the Irish, Kalita was able to retire three straight batters with runners on second and third.
The Irish took away Bowling Green's lead in the bottom of the third inning, when Joe Thaman and Steve Stanley opened the inning with singles. After Matt Bok sacrificed both runners, Brian Stavisky's groundout to second tied the game at one.
Notre Dame then took the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning with a similar scenario to the third inning. Steve Sollmann opened with a single up the middle and Kris Billmaier sacrificed Sollmann to second. After taking third on a wild pitch, Sollmann then scored on Javier Sanchez's groundout to shortstop.
Bowling Green was able to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning as cleanup hitter Kelly Hunt crushed a pitch that, with the help of a gusty wind, hit the top of the screen in right-center field.
But the Irish responded with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, as Billmaier hit a fly ball to right-center which, also with a lot of help from the wind, cleared the fence to give the Irish a 3-2 lead.
"Billmaier's [home run] maybe wasn't a legitimate home run; it probably was helped by the wind, but so was [Hunt's], so it kind of evened out," Mainieri said.
After a groundout by Bowling Green off Irish reliever Drew Duff to open the seventh inning, the rain and wind returned to Eck Stadium. After a strong gust of wind wreaked havoc on a throw to the infield by Stanley after a one-out double by the Falcons, the officials decided to stop play.
After about a half-hour delay, the game was officially called, giving the Irish the 3-2 victory.
With the victory, Kalita's record is now 2-0 on the season, and the Irish improve to 29-12.
"He deserved to win," Maneri said. "That team had some really good hitters, and I thought Kalita threw fantastic tonight."
The Irish have now won 11 straight victories – and 20 of their last 22 games – heading into a huge weekend series with Arizona State.
"We're fired up [about this weekend's series]," Mainieri said. "I know the kids are excited, I know I'm excited, hopefully we'll get some good weather and play some good baseball."
u Due to the game being called in the top of the seventh inning, by ruling only the last full inning counts. Therefore, the game officially lasted only six innings, one more than the minimum in order to have an official game. The two at-bats by Bowling Green — and the appearance by Duff — in the top of the seventh inning do not appear on the official box score.
of the game.
All Sports Stories for Thursday, April 25, 2002