April 24, 2016
By Russell Dorn
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Despite some late-game heroics to send the contest to extra innings, the No. 29 University of Notre Dame baseball team lost a heartbreaker to No. 7 Florida State, 7-6, in 12 innings Saturday night at Dick Howser Stadium.
With Notre Dame trailing 6-4 and down to its last strike in the top of the ninth inning, sophomore Jake Shepski stunned an announced crowd of 5,147 by bashing his second home run of the series – and seventh of the season – to send the game to extra innings.
After the Irish left the bases loaded in the 11th inning and stranded two more runners in the 12th, Florida State opened the bottom half of the frame with a Quincy Nieporte double. Jackson Lueck then stepped to the plate and sent a ball over the head of Shepski in left field to score pinch runner Hank Truluck and give the Seminoles the walk-off win.
The walk-off hit capped a frustrating night for the Irish that saw an early 2-0 lead disappear in the second inning and a hot-hitting Seminole squad answer every Notre Dame rally with runs of their own. Both teams scored in the fourth and seventh innings to give FSU a 6-4 lead before Shepski sent it to extras in the ninth with the homer.
The loss spoiled an outstanding game from several Irish standouts, including sophomore reliever Brandon Bielak.
After starter Sean Guenther (10 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 1 SO, 94 pitches) gutted through six innings to keep the Irish firmly in the game, Bielak entered in the seventh and proceeded to hurl four shutout innings. He tied his career high with eight strikeouts and finished with 85 pitches to lower his season ERA to 2.97. More remarkable, however, is his season ERA in relief (0.75) that features 24.0 innings of work and 24 strikeouts.
At the plate, senior designated hitter Ricky Sanchez continued his torrid pace with two more hits – including a homer – three RBI and a run scored. He drove in the first three RBI of the game for the Irish.
Shepski finished with a homer and three RBI. The seven, eight and nine hitters in the Notre Dame lineup all had two hits, as Kyle Fiala, Lane Richards and Ryan Lidge combined for six hits and two runs scored. Junior Cavan Biggio added walks 41 and 42 on the year in the game.
Pinch runner/right fielder Torii Hunter Jr. had a stolen base and one outstanding catch that made No. 6 on Sportscenter’s Top 10 list Saturday night.
Another view of the @THunterJr catch!
Even smoother from the side angle.
Video Cred: @FSUBaseball
– Notre Dame Baseball (@NDBaseball) April 24, 2016
— Notre Dame Baseball (@NDBaseball) April 24, 2016
The Irish (23-14, 9-9 ACC) and the Seminoles (27-11, 12-4 ACC) close out their three-game ACC series at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday. Fans can follow along through ESPN3, WatchND (audio only) and live stats. Links for all three are on the Notre Dame baseball schedule page.
For more information on the Notre Dame baseball team, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).
Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning his master’s degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.