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BASEBALL:Edwards’ four hits lead club

Matt Lozar | Wednesday, April 6, 2005

When the count is 3-0, Matt Edwards showed Tuesday afternoon he definitely has the green light.

Crushing a three-run homerun in the third inning after singling in the first, Edwards collected four hits, scored twice and had three RBIs as Notre Dame (14-12) got back in the win column, beating Toledo 6-2 in front of 2,124 fans on a warm and windy day at Frank Eck Stadium.

“He’s a good fastball hitter. When people see the type of numbers he’s been putting up, he’s not getting pitches to hit,” Irish coach Paul Mainieri said. “I’d be crazy to give him the take sign.

“When he sees those pitches, his eyes light up.”

Up in the bottom of the third with Alex Nettey and Brett Lilley on base, Edwards put Toledo pitcher Joe Roberts’ pitch up in the right-center field alley and got some help from the wind blowing out to give the Irish a 3-0 lead.

The homer was the 10th on the season for Edwards, 30th for his career and 200th hit overall for the senior. Edwards moved into 10th place for career RBI in the Irish history books.

The four hits on the day for Edwards increased his season batting average to .398.

“I’m feeling confident – the counts have been in my favor, and the pitches have been up,” Edwards said.

The Rockets (7-18) came back in the top of the fifth getting two runs off Irish starter Wade Korpi (3-0). After a Jake Swint single with one out, Drew Hoisington hit a slow grounder to shortstop Ross Brezovsky who one-hopped the throw to Edwards, letting Hoisington to reach. Joel Visser sent a 2-1 pitch to centerfield to score Swint and an error by Nettey allowed Visser to advance to second. A sacrifice fly by Ryan Laude brought Hoisington home as an unearned run, making the score 3-2.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Irish pushed their lead right back to three runs on a two-run home run by Steve Andres.

Korpi went six strong innings for the Irish, getting ahead of the Toledo hitters on a large majority of their at-bats and only yielding six hits while walking none.

“I was really pleased with [Korpi],” Mainieri said. “He’s starting to pitch like we thought he could when we recruited him.”

Scott Bickford, David Gruener and Tyler Jones combined to pitch three shutout innings and preserve the victory for Korpi.

Nettey finished 1-for-4, but extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a single in the seventh.

Ball State visits Notre Dame this afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 5:05. Something to watch for the Irish against the Cardinals will be how starting pitcher John Axford does in his first start since the 2003 season.

So far this season, Axford has appeared in three games, pitching 1 1/3 innings, but the righthander has a 13.50 ERA.

Axford’s performance against Chicago State where he threw one inning and struck out three impressed Mainieri, but made him eager to see what his senior can do today.

“It’s going to be tough to sleep. I’m anxious for [today],” Mainieri said. “He’s a power arm, and we’ve been lacking guys with great velocity.”

After Tuesday night’s game, Mainieri wasn’t sure how many innings Axford would pitch, or if he would be on a pitch count. Mainieri said he doesn’t expect Axford to go five innings, but probably three-plus innings.

The Cardinals come to Eck Stadium on a nine-game winning streak.

Notes

u A foul ball skimmed off the top of the head of a fan who was using his binoculars to watch spring football practice.

u The glove of Toledo centerfielder Hoisington went over the fence on Andres’ home run in the bottom of the fifth.