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Baseball: Korpi strikes out eleven in shutout

Chris Khorey | Thursday, March 30, 2006

Notre Dame sophomore Wade Korpi threw the first complete game shutout of his career Wednesday and the Irish beat Western Michigan 2-0 at Frank Eck Stadium.

Korpi (2-1) struck out 11 – the highest total of his career – and allowed just three hits in nine innings. The southpaw starter has a 1.80 ERA with 34 strikeouts and only six walks this year.

“It was an awesome performance by Korpi,” Irish head coach Paul Mainieri said. “It was one of the best games you’ll ever see around here.”

Korpi threw 77 strikes out of 114 pitches. The sophomore said his control was a result of his hard work over the summer.

“Last year, I used to try to nibble too much and I ran into problems,” Korpi said. “Now, I feel like I can throw all my pitches for strikes.”

Korpi said he relied on his change up in two-strike counts, and the change allowed him to accumulate strikeouts as the game progressed. The sophomore fanned five batters after the seventh inning.

“My change up was really good tonight,” Korpi said. “That’s how I got most of my strikeouts. My curveball was good, but I thought my change up was really my out pitch.”

Mainieri said he was happy with Korpi’s strong outing but felt bad the team was unable to utilize it’s bullpen.

“I would have liked to get [sophomore righthander] Joey Williamson into the game,” Mainieri said. “He didn’t get to pitch last week or against Georgetown [this past weekend].”

Notre Dame starting pitchers Tom Thornton, Jeff Manship and Jeff Samardzija are slated to start in every three-game, conference weekend set this season. As a result, Korpi’s role has been making the mid-week starts against non-conference opponents.

Mainieri said he wants to see Korpi emerge as the team’s fourth starter heading into the Big East tournament May 23-27. And the lefty’s performance against the Broncos Wednesday was a good start given Notre Dame’s lack of run production. The Irish scored only two runs on eight hits and left seven runners on base.

“We don’t have that much margin for error for us to be a great offensive team,” Mainieri said. “It wasn’t that we didn’t hit great, we just didn’t take advantage of a couple of opportunities.”

The Irish scored a run in the first inning for the seventh consecutive game. Notre Dame first baseman Craig Cooper doubled down the first base line on the game’s first pitch and moved to third on a bunt single by Notre Dame third baseman Brett Lilley. Cooper then scored on a single by Irish second baseman Jeremy Barnes.

Notre Dame picked up a second run in the bottom of the third. Irish right fielder Danny Dressman singled to left field, where Bronco outfielder Kyle Maunus bobbled the ball, allowing the Irish junior to take second. The next batter, Notre Dame designated hitter Ross Brezovsky, drove in Dressman with a double.

Western Michigan starter Bryan French went six complete innings, allowing both Irish runs on seven hits. He was replaced by freshman Billy Morrison, who pitched two scoreless innings in relief.


u The complete game shutout was Notre Dame’s third since 2002, when J.P. Gagne went the distance against BYU. Thornton recorded the other two, including one earlier this season against Southern Illinois.

“I’ve learned a lot from [Thornton],” Korpi said of the team’s veteran ace. “I like the philosophy he uses of going out and throwing strikes and letting things happen.”

u Irish pitchers have not allowed an earned run in 29 innings, a streak that dates back to a 12-2 victory over Georgetown Saturday.

u Notre Dame will play Pittsburgh Friday in a Big East matchup at Frank Eck Stadium. Samardzija will make his first home start of the season.