Irish Win Another Close One, 6-4 at Purdue
Greene's Pinch-Hit Double Highlights Big Day for Bottom of Irish Batting Order
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Senior lefthander Wally Widelski worked into and out of trouble over seven innings while sophomore Allen Greene came off the bench to deliver a game-winning double in the top of the eighth as Notre Dame won for the 15th time in its last 17 games, 6-4, in non-conference baseball action Tuesday at Lambert Field.
Notre Dame (24-13) jumped ahead with four runs in the second before Purdue (14-20) tied the game with an unearned run in the third and three runs in the sixth (one of which was unearned).
Widelski (1-0) scattered six hits and four walks over seven innings, while allowing four runs (two earned) and striking out three Purdue batters. Senior Mike Balicki picked up his first save of the season, after setting down the side in the eighth and ninth (with two K's).
Senior righthander Jeremy Buck took the loss, after surrendering a one-out single to senior DH Mike Amrhein and a walk to sophomore catcher Jeff Wagner in the eighth.
Notre Dame's usually potent #2 through #4 hitters (senior centerfielder Randall Brooks, Amrhein and Wagner) combined to go just 2-for-12 vs. the Boi lermakers while the #6-#9 spots produced five of the team's six RBI. Sophomore shortstop Paul Turco--who opened the season as the Irish starter befor enduring an early slump--returned to his starting position for just the second time in 17 games, after junior Todd Frye was hit in the mouth on a bad-hop ball during pregame infield practice (the injury required stitches at a nearby hospital, with Frye's status to be updated on Wednesday). Turco responded to his opportunity in the #8 spot, going 1-for-2 with two walks, an RBI and run scored.
Greene, Notre Dame's usual leftfielder, did not start Tuesday's game after going 0-for-10 earlier in the week in the Rutgers series. But the switch-hitter came through in the eighth, stepping in at the plate for starting leftfielder Dan Leatherman (a lefthanded hitter) after the hosts had replaced Buck with junior lefthander Brian Joros. With Amrhein on second base and Wagner on first, Greene liftted the first pitch he saw from Joros down the rightfield line, plating Amrhein on a two-out, opposite-field double.
The Irish added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, after a leadoff single by senior third baseman J.J. Brock, a sacrifice bunt by senior rightfielder Pat O'Keefe and a run-scoring, line-drive double down the rightfield line by Brooks.(to virtually the same spot Greene placed his clutch hit an inning earlier). Brooks followed moments later with a diving catch on a leadoff flyout by Mike Rothstein, with Brooks running forward and diving to his right as the ball tailed away in the crosswind.
Notre Dame struck for four runs in the second, with freshman second baseman Brant Ust igniting five straight Irish hits on a one-out single through the left side. Leatherman (batting in the #6 spot) kept things going with a single to center and freshman first baseman Jeff Felker stroked an RBI single into right-center before Turco pulled a single down the leftfield line for a 2-0 lead. Brock then capped the flurry with a two-run double into the leftfield corner.
Purdue scored an unearned run in the third, after Widelski threw the ball away trying to start a 1-6-3 double play. The Boilers then pushed across three runs in the sixth. Bill Bennett drew a leadoff walk and Anthony Greico singled to left field before a sacrifice bunt by Rod Metzler and another walk, by Robb Ramacher, loaded the bases with one out. Widelski came through with his breaking ball, striking out Rothstein, but Ryan Cole then drilled a shot into right field, with O'Keefe's bobble allowing Ramacher to score the unearned, game-tying run all the way from first.
Wagner went 0-for-3 with a walk, ending his hitting streak at 15 games, while Amrhein saw his season batting average drop to .444 after a 1-for-5 day (Amrhein now has hits in 34 of 37 games this season). Ust's 2-for-4 day pushed his season batting average to .386.