July 5, 2016
By Russell Dorn
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Already a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American and a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Freshman Team, Notre Dame sophomore Matt Vierling picked up two more national honors recently, earning second team Freshman All-America accolades from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) in addition to Perfect Game/Rawlings.
Due to his versatility on the field, the St. Louis native was placed in the utility position in each All-America listing.
A starter in all 54 games during the regular season, Vierling finished the year splitting .258/.322/.366 with 55 hits, three doubles, one triple, six homers, 29 RBI, 20 walks, three stolen bases and 26 runs scored. The St. Louis native placed second on the team in homers, RBI and runs, tied for second in walks and third in hits.
While making 52 starts in the outfield (31 RF, 20 CF, 1 LF) and two at designated hitter, Vierling posted a .985 fielding percentage in 134 chances and finished 2-1 on the mound with a 3.60 ERA over 10 appearances and 10.0 innings pitched. He struck out 12 batters and only allowed one run over his final seven inning of work.
Vierling is playing his summer league ball this summer with the Madison Mallards in the talented Northwoods League and is batting .287 with 31 hits, five doubles, one triple, 15 RBI, 18 walks and 20 runs scored in 27 games.
Here’s what else is going on involving the Notre Dame baseball program in this summer edition of around the bases:
SUMMER BALL UPDATE
– Four Irish junior pitchers are having a summer in the elite Cape Cod League, as RHP Brad Bass and RHP Peter Solomon are dealing for the Harwich Mariners, while RHP Brandon Bielak and LHP Sean Guenther are doing the same for the Orleans Firebirds.
Solomon has a tiny 1.58 ERA in five appearances and 11.1 innings of work (1 save) … he has 13 strikeouts to four walks … meanwhile, Bass has a 1.86 ERA over six appearances and 9.2 innings of work … he boasts 14 strikeouts to just three walks … Bielak is dominating for Orleans, posting a 1.08 ERA over eight appearances and 8.1 innings of work (1-0, 3 saves) … he has yet to allow a walk while fanning 11 … Guenther, meanwhile, is 1-1 with a 3.43 ERA in four starts (18.1 IP) … he ha 10 strikeouts to just one walk.
– Irish junior Jake Shepski has been downright dominant for the Mankato Moondogs in the talented Northwoods League this summer … he leads the league in average (.381) and doubles (12) and is second in runs (32), third in hits (45), tied for third in homers (6), fourth in walks (26), fifth in RBI (30) and tied for eighth in hit by pitch (6).
– Junior RHP Evy Ruibal is having himself a fine summer with the Wisconsin Woodchucks, posting a 2.07 ERA in 15 appearances and 17.1 innings pitched … he has two saves and 10 strikeouts.
– Sophomore RHP Jack Connolly is in the New England Collegiate Baseball League with the Plymouth Pilgrims and has put together a solid summer thus far … in seven appearances and 10.2 innings of work, Connolly has a 0.84 ERA and 12 strikeouts.
– In the Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England, sophomore Eric Feliz has been outstanding, as he sits third in the league in hits (40) and fifth in average (.370) … he also has two doubles, one triple, two homers, 17 RBI, nine walks and 16 runs scored.
Notre Dame standouts Bielak, Michael Hearne and Vierling recently earned ACC All-Academic honors following outstanding seasons on the mound and in the classroom … Bielak led the Irish with a 2.10 ERA in 15 appearances (4 starts) and 55.2 innings of work … he struck out 54 batters … Hearne was dominant for much of the year on the mound, posting an 8-2 record and 2.13 ERA over 14 appearances (13 starts) and a team-high 80.1 innings of work … he struck out 42 batters and allowed just 15 walks … Hearne claimed two complete games, including one complete-game shutout … all three are enrolled in the No. 2 undergraduate business school in the country – the Mendoza College of Business.
– After a breakout second game in professional baseball with the Vancouver Canadians, former Irish standout Cavan Biggio hasn’t cooled off … through 13 pro games he is splitting .326/.407/.413 with 15 hits, four doubles, five RBI, six walks and five runs scored … he leads his team in average and hits and is tied for the team lead in doubles.
HUNTER JR. UPDATE
After getting drafted in the 23rd round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft by the Los Angeles Angels, Notre Dame two-sport performer Torii Hunter Jr. recently signed with the organization … with the signing the Angels retain Hunter Jr.’s rights as he concludes his career with the Irish baseball team … he is set to suit up for the Irish football team in the fall and figures to play a key role in the offense as the team’s most veteran returnee at wide receiver.
– 2015 Notre Dame graduate and former All-American Trey Mancini has been scorching hot as of late to up his Triple A average over .300 … in 67 games with the Norfolk Tides (Orioles affiliate), the Winter Haven, Florida native is splitting .303/.372/.488 with 77 hits, 13 doubles, two triples, 10 homers, 29 RBI, 26 walks and 33 runs scored … on July 1, Mancini stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with his team down 1-0 to the Durham Bulls … he quickly changed that, however, as he crushed the first pitch over the fence for a walk-off, two-run home run … the walk off homer was the first of his career .. here’s video from the hit:
– A reliever for his entire Notre Dame career and the first 141 appearances of his minor league career, former Irish standout Dan Slania has been unbelievable as a starter recently … in seven starts, he is 4-1 with a 1.77 ERA over 40.2 innings of work … he has struck out 31 batters is allowing opponents to hit just .219 … thanks to these starts, Slania has lowered his season ERA at Double A Richmond (Giants affiliate) to 3.02.
– 2015 MLB All-Star and Rawlings Gold Glove winner A.J. Pollock fractured his right elbow in an exhibition game just prior to the beginning of the 2016 season … however, the Internet rumor mills report that he has recently returned to baseball activities and could play this season … he was recently spotted in the Diamondbacks dugout without a cast and with a jersey on.
– Former Irish two-sport star Jeff Samardzija has turned in a solid 2016 season thus far after signing a deal with the San Francisco Giants in the offseason … in 17 starts, he boats an 8-5 record with a 3.97 ERA over 111.0 innings of work … he boats 84 strikeouts to 24 walks.
– RHP David Phelps is 4-4 with a 2.60 ERA over 45.0 innings of work in relief (41 games) with the Miami Marlins … he has posted three saves and has 55 strikeouts to 14 walks … opponents are hitting just .200.
– In two seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Jeff Manship has been unbelievable on the mound, boasting a tiny 1.41 ERA over 59 appearances and 63.2 IP … he has struck out 49 batters over that time period … this season he has a 2.22 ERA over 27 appearances and 24.1 innings of work.
– John Axford made the move to Oakland before the season and has a 3-2 record and 5.51 ERA in 36 appearances (32.2 IP) with the Athletics … he has 27 strikeouts.
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.