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Baseball: Team falls in home opener to Wright State

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Irish dropped their home opener Tuesday 4-2 to Wright State at Frank Eck Stadium. Notre Dame (9-7) mustered only four hits in the contest, wasting a solid outing from starting pitcher Wade Korpi. The sophomore allowed three runs in 6-plus innings, including none after the third frame.

Irish coach Paul Mainieri credited the Raider pitchers for shutting down his team, which had scored nearly eight runs per game over spring break.

“I thought they pitched unbelievable,” Mainieri said. “I told their coach ‘you keep pitching like that you’ll win a lot of games this year.”

The weather at the start of the 5:05 game was a brisk 34 degrees. By the time darkness fell, the temperature had dipped into the twenties and many of the 1,842 fans who braved the cold had left early.

“The conditions were really difficult for both teams to play in,” Mainieri said. “It was really cold and windy out there.”

Notre Dame struck first, scoring a run in the bottom half of the first inning. First baseman and lead-off hitter Craig Cooper doubled to right center field, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by designated hitter Danny Dressman and scored on a wild pitch by Wright State starter Erich Schanz.

The lead would not last. The Raiders scored three runs in the top of the second, all with two outs. With one out, Korpi walked centerfielder John Kopilchack, then struck out shortstop Justin Parker. First baseman Jeremy Hamilton then doubled to left, where Irish outfielder Matt Bransfield misplayed the ball and allowed Kopilchack to score from first.

“When there’s a runner on first base and two outs, your outfielder’s only job is to keep the runner from scoring from first on an extra base hit,” Mainieri said of the play. “He got to the ball okay, but then he just dropped it. Maybe his hands were cold.”

Leftfielder Justin Wilson drove in Hamilton with a single, then stole second and scored on a single by second baseman Ross Oeder to increase the lead to 3-1.

The Raiders increased their advantage again in the seventh inning. Third baseman Dan Biedenharn led off the inning against Notre Dame reliever Joey Williamson and walked. Then, designated hitter Brian Shoup laid a bunt down the first base line. Both Williamson and Cooper went for the ball, leaving first base uncovered and, although second baseman Ross Brezovsky tried to cover the bag, Williamson’s throw ended up bounding into right field. Biedenharn advanced to third on the error.

“We had a miscommunication between our first baseman and our pitcher, which created a bad situation,” Mainieri said.

The next batter, rightfielder Amin Abusaleh, singled, driving in Biedenharn and putting the Raiders up 4-1.

The Irish got a run in the bottom of the eight on a sacrifice fly by Brezovsky that drove in catcher Sean Gaston, but were unable to get anything going in the ninth inning against Raider reliever Joe Smith.

“He’s really good. There were a lot of pro scouts here to see him. He pretty much overmatched us,” Mainieri said of Smith.

The Irish will be back in action today at Frank Eck Stadium against Central Michigan. Freshman David Phelps is expected to start for Notre Dame. The weather is expected to be slightly warmer, possibly reaching the lower 40s.