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Baseball: Korpi continues winning ways

Chris Khorey | Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Another day, another dominant outing for Wade Korpi.

The sophomore left-hander allowed just one unearned run in seven innings as Notre Dame extended its school-record winning streak to 23 games with a 2-1 win over Purdue Tuesday at Frank Eck Stadium.

“He just keeps pitching like that every game,” Irish coach Paul Mainieri said of the sophomore. “He’s the consummate crafty left-hander. When he’s getting his curve ball and changeup over, his fastball looks like it’s coming in at 100 miles per hour.

“He was just carving them up tonight.”

Korpi (5-1) pitched seven complete innings, allowing one hit while striking out 11 and walking just one.

“Early in the count you focus on getting ahead of hitters, not really strikeouts,” Korpi said. “But once you get two strikes you go for that out pitch.”

While Korpi extended Notre Dame’s winning streak, another Irish streak came to an end.

Notre Dame first baseman Craig Cooper was 0-for-4 at the plate, ending his school-record-tying hit streak at 21 games.

During the streak, which dated back to Notre Dame’s 11-9 victory over Central Michigan March 22, Cooper hit .471 with nine home runs and 27 RBIs.

“He’s no Joe DiMaggio, and he’s no Superman,” Mainieri said. “[Cooper is] a consummate team player and I’m sure he’s just happy we won and isn’t worried about it.”

The Boiler-makers (21-15, 8-8 Big Ten) scored their lone run in the top of the first on an RBI single by third baseman John Hunter – one of only two Purdue hits in the contest.

Korpi retired the next 17 batters he faced, not allowing another base runner until a walk to Hunter in the seventh inning.

“I was thinking about it a little bit in the dugout,” Korpi said of the batters-retired streak. “But when I was on the mound it wasn’t really on my mind.”

After scoring 11, 15 and 14 runs against Rutgers over the weekend, Notre Dame (33-8, 14-1 in the Big East) mustered just six hits and two runs against the Boilermakers.

“What I really love about our team is that if we have to win a 2-1 game, we can do it with our pitching and defense and an occasional clutch hit, or if we have to win a slugfest like we did [against Rutgers] we can do that because of our hitting,” Mainieri said. “Whatever game gets thrown at us we have to find a way to win.”

Down 1-0 in the bottom of the second, the Irish scored their only two runs of the game. Catcher Sean Gaston sparked the rally with a single to right field, and left fielder Matt Bransfield followed with a single of his own to left field. Two batters later, shortstop Greg Lopez drove in both baserunners on a two-run double to right center field.

Purdue starting pitcher Trae Douby (2-4) pitched six complete innings and took the loss in his first start of the season. He allowed two runs on five hits while striking out six and walking one.

Notes:

u Korpi’s 11 punchouts marked the second time the sophomore has struck out double digit batters this season.

He became only the fifth Irish pitcher all-time to record double digit strikeouts multiple times in one season and the first since Danny Tamayo and Aaron Heilman both did it in 2001.

u Korpi may have to pitch again Sunday on short rest in place of senior left-hander Tom Thornton, who took a sharp grounder off his leg in Sunday’s 14-12 win over Rutgers.

Thornton had an X-ray Monday that came back negative. The team is awaiting results from an MRI Thornton had Tuesday.

“He’s a little sore still,” Mainieri said. “But we’re hoping everything we’ll come out okay after the tests.”

u Mainieri said after the game that he had hoped to keep Korpi’s pitch count under 80, but with the left hander rolling along, he saw no reason to take his starter out until he reached 99 pitches.

“He wasn’t laboring,” Mainieri said. “It was an easy 99 pitches. He’ll be fine for Sunday.”