Irish Storm Back But Fall to Western Carolina

CULLOWHEE, N.C. –  The University of Notre Dame baseball team erased a nine-run deficit against Western Carolina but ultimately fell to the Catamounts, 16-9 Wednesday afternoon at Hennon Stadium.

Western Carolina raced out to an early lead, scoring in each of the first three innings. The Irish began to fight back in the middle innings and came all the way back in the eighth. After scoring two runs and forcing the bases loaded, Niko Kavadas hit a blast to right field for his first career grand slam and tied the game.

The Catamounts did not waver, as they regained the lead in bottom of the eighth and closed the door in the ninth to claim the win.

How It Happened

Western Carolina jumped all over the Irish in the bottom of the first. After a couple of extra-base hits, the Catamounts had a 5-0 lead at the end of the inning.

The Catamounts continued their strong day at the plate, scoring two runs in the second and third inning to increase their lead.

The Irish began to scrap their way back into the game in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded, Brooks Coetzee dropped a single into left to score Eric Gilgenbach for the first run of the afternoon. The Irish added another run in the inning after a fielder’s choice from Jared Miller.

Notre Dame added another run in the sixth after a fielder’s choice from Spencer Myers that scored David LaManna. With the bases loaded and just one out, the Irish were unable to tack on any more runs in the inning.

The Irish threatened once again in eighth. The Irish scored two runs in the inning from a wild pitch and then a sacrifice fly to make it a four-run game. Gilgenbach worked a walk and Kavadas stepped to the plate as the tying run. Kavadas got a hold of the 0-1 pitch and sent it deep over the fence in right to tie the game. It was Kavadas’ fifth home run of the season, tying his total from last year.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Catamounts regained the lead they would not relinquish.

Game Notes

  • Sophomore Niko Kavadas hit his first career grand slam in the eighth inning and set a career high with four RBI on the afternoon.
  • It was his fifth home run of the season, tying his total from last season.
  • Freshman Henry Gladson made his first career appearance in the third inning.
  • Brooks Coetzee tallied his second RBI in as many games with a RBI-single to left in the fourth inning.
  • Shane Combs tied a career high with 1.2 innings of relief and two strikeouts.
  • Ethan Copeland recorded a career high with two hits against the Catamounts.

Up Next

Notre Dame will close out its spring break trip with a three-game series at Clemson. The Irish and Tigers will begin the series Friday night at 6 p.m. ET and all three game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the Irish baseball program, follow @NDBaseball on Twitter and @NotreDameBaseball on Instagram. For tickets to an Irish baseball game, click here.