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BASEBALL: Edwards slugs team to victory

Joe Hettler | Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Matt Edwards’ first home run Tuesday against Western Michigan needed a gusting wind to clear the left centerfield fence. Credit his next two to pure power.Notre Dame’s third baseman finished 3-for-3 with three home runs, six RBI’s and two intentional walks in leading the Irish (12-10) past Western Michigan 9-5 at Frank Eck Stadium.”I just missed [the first home run]. I think the wind helped it a little bit,” said Edwards, who has nine home runs and 35 RBI in 22 games this season. “I was pretty sure the other two were good.”Edwards hit a solo blast in the first to give the Irish a 1-0 lead. His next bomb was a two-run shot in the third before he added insurance runs with a three-run smash in the seventh that cleared the “Frank Eck Stadium” sign in left field. “You can watch a lot of games in baseball and never see a guy locked in that way,” Notre Dame coach Paul Mainieri said.Freshman lefthander Wade Korpi threw five quality innings to earn his second victory of the season, yielding just a three-run homer in the fourth to the Bronco’s Tony Scheffler. Korpi struck out three, walked two and allowed just six base hits. “I thought Wade Korpi was phenomenal,” Mainieri said. “That was the Wade Korpi we recruited. He changed speeds great, and he got ahead of hitters.”Dan Kapala pitched 2 2/3 innings and gave up two runs, Mike Dury added zero runs in 1/3 inning and Ryan Doherty closed the door on Western Michigan with a scoreless ninth. Western Michigan starter Derek Schlecker took the loss after pitching three innings and surrendering four earned runs. The Broncos, who haven’t played a home game yet this season, dropped to 5-11.Leading 1-0 in the third, the Irish took command of the game with a three-run inning. Shortstop Greg Lopez and centerfielder Alex Nettey both singled to put men on the corners with zero outs. Freshman second baseman Brett Lilley fell behind two strikeouts before choppy a grounder to the right side of the infield, which scored Lopez and advanced Nettey into scoring position. Edwards then blasted home run No. 2 to give the Irish a 4-0 advantage.After Scheffler’s home run in the top of the fourth, the Irish added a run in the bottom of the fifth. Down in the count 0-2, Nettey was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on Lilley’s fielder’s choice. Edwards was intentionally walked before Matt Bransfield smoked a sharp single through the left side, scoring Nettey and putting Notre Dame ahead 5-3. Nettey added an RBI single in the ninth and finished with two hits, three runs and an RBI.With the victory, Notre Dame has now won five of its last six, including four in a row. “I feel like we’re playing better baseball,” Mainieri said. “The pitching is better, which is the big thing. We’ve been pretty efficient.”The Irish face a dreadful 0-24 Chicago State squad at 5:05 p.m. today at Frank Eck Stadium. Freshman Joey Williamson, who has six appearances this season, will make his first career start for Notre Dame. He is 0-1 with an 8.00 ERA.