June 10, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – No. 11 Notre Dame (49-16) became the eighth team to earn a spot in the College World Series field with a 3-1 Super Regional victory over No. 1 Florida State (60-14) as 5,195 fans looked on at Dick Howser Stadium. Freshman right-hander Chris Niesel (4-0) held the Seminoles in check all day, allowing just six hits and one earned run in eight innings of work.
Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning when Steve Sollman singled home Joe Thaman from second base with two outs. Thaman was on after drawing a walk and had moved to second on a groundout.
The Irish got another two-out run in the fourth to make it 2-0. Kris Billmaier singled to center, moved to third on Paul O’Toole’s single and scored on a base hit by Javier Sanchez.
Notre Dame got an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh to push the lead to 3-0. O’Toole singled and Thaman grounded to second with one out on what looked to be an inning-ending double play, but FSU second baseman Bryan Zech committed an error to put runners on first and second. Steve Stanley’s bunt single loaded the bases and O’Toole scored on Steve Sollman’s sacrifice fly to center.
The Seminoles mounted a late rally in the top of the eighth. Bryan Zech doubled and came around to score on Tony Richie’s two-out single off the wall in right. Notre Dame left fielder Brian Stavisky ended the inning with a sliding catch of Jerrod Brown’s fly ball in fall territory.
Florida State starter Marc LaMacchia (10-2) pitched well in the loss, giving up two earned runs on six hits in 6.1 innings. LaMacchia walked two and struck out two.
Notre Dame now advances to the College World Series in Omaha, NE to play the Stanford Cardinal. It is the second World Series trip ever for the Irish and their first since 1957.