Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Sollmann, Irish advance to World Series

Notre Dame tops red-hot FSU

The Associated Press

        TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Freshman right-hander Chris Niesel allowed one run in eight innings and St. Xavier grad Steve Sollmann drove in two runs as Notre Dame beat top-seeded Florida State 3-1 Monday to reach the College World Series for the first time in 45 years.

        J.P. Gagne struck out the side in the ninth inning to pick up his second save in the best-of-three super regional between two of the hottest teams in the country. Florida State, which finished the season 60-14, came into the weekend against the Irish with a 25-game winning steak.

        “In 23 years, this is the most disappointing moment in my career,” Florida State coach Mike Martin said. “Notre Dame deserves to go. They beat us two out of three in our own backyard.”

        Notre Dame (49-16) has won 31 of its last 35 as it heads for Omaha, Neb., and a first-round game against Stanford. The Irish were last in the CWS in 1957.

        “We really believed we could come down here and do it,” said Notre Dame coach Paul Mainieri. “But to actually come down here and do it is something else.”

        Niesel, whose father, Rudy Niesel, is a 1973 Florida State graduate, lost his bid for a shutout in the eighth inning when Tony Richie singled home Bryan Zech, who had led off the inning with a double — the game's only extra-base hit.

        The two teams combined for 31 runs and 55 hits in the first two games of the series, but pitching decided Game 3.

        Niesel (4-0) struck out five and scattered six hits in eight innings, while Florida State's Marc LaMacchia (11-2) gave up six hits and two earned runs before leaving with one out in the seventh.

        Sollmann singled in Notre Dame's first run in the third inning and his sacrifice fly in the seventh scored the final Irish run.

        Javier Sanchez gave Notre Dame a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning with a single to right that scored Kris Billmaier. Sanchez also made a diving stop and strong throw from the hole at shortstop to rob FSU's Bryan Zech of a hit in the second inning that would've scored a run.


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