Sollmann Leads The Way

<P>The Notre Dame baseball team got back on the winning track on Tuesday with a 9-6 victory over Cincinnati. The Irish (38-14) exploded for 16 hits and nine runs as the Irish scored runs in every inning but the fifth and the eighth. Freshman <B>Tom Thornton </B> started the game on the mound and pitched seven solid innings to get his fifth victory of the season. </P>

Junior second baseman Steve Sollmann (4-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI) did the job all day with 2 singles, a double and a triple off the centerfield wall on the day. He got help from third baseman Matt Edwards (3-for-5, HR, 2B, R, 2 RBI) and Shortstop Matt Macri (3-for-5, 2 R, RBI) as the Irish had four hitters with three of more hits on the day.

First baseman Joe Thaman continued with his hot bat going 3-for-4 (R). Thaman is 5-for-8 in his last two games after struggling at the plate earlier in the season.

Thaman is starting to feel more comfortable at the plate. "It's confidence," said Thaman. "I think confidence is the biggest thing. Just being able to stay back on the ball and trust your hands to hit the ball hard."

Thaman hopes to continue to produce for the team. "Whenever the team needs me I want to be able to produce for them. I've just been working hard. I'm ready to get into the lineup whenever they call on me and I'm happy with how I've played the last couple of days. Our team is getting excited to go to the BIG EAST tournament and prove that we are a better team that what we've been playing like the last couple of weeks."

Thornton (5-1) really helped his team with a strong outing on Tuesday. The Irish bullpen was very limited with their 19-inning game against Rutgers on Sunday. Tyler Jones pitched the eighth and Senior Brandon Viloria picked up his second save pitching the ninth.

Coach Paul Mainieri certainly appreciated the effort of Thornton on Tuesday. "We were really thin with our bullpen today after that 19-inning game on Sunday," said Mainieri. "We were really hoping that Thornton could give us six or seven solid innings and that is exactly what he did. Fortunately we were able to put together some offense today and it got us a good lead. Hopefully it will set us up for tomorrow against Butler."

The Irish did find the bats today and even the balls hit for outs seemed to be hit very hard. Just hitting the ball hard should give the Irish hitters some confidence. "I think it helps a lot," Mainieri said. "It seems like it's been a while since we've scored more than two or three runs in a game. It was good to finally score some runs. Hopefully tomorrow we can swing the bats well again."

Sollmann had been in a 2-for-20 slump in the last four games before he found his stroke tonight. "I thought Sollmann had a tremendous day,' said Mainieri. "It was good to see Edwards hit the ball out of the park. Macri swung the bat well so hopefully we will get it together for the stretch run."

Mainieri knows that his team will need to swing the bats well against a hot-hitting Virginia Tech team when they travel to Blacksburg to face the Hokies. "Virginia Tech is really swinging the bats well. I know they lost two out of three at Pittsburgh but they've been scoring a lot of runs. They lost 17-16 and 14-13 to Pittsburgh. Hopefully we don't need to score that many runs to win. Hopefully our pitching is going to shut them down pretty well."

Senior Pete Ogilvie is schedule to start on Wednesday as the Irish play their final regular season game at Eck Stadium. The game is scheduled to begin at 6:05 PM on Wednesday. Top Stories