March 17, 2017
By Michael Bertsch
PITTSBURGH – Notre Dame drilled three home runs, including a grand slam from junior Jake Shepski, and used a quality start from junior Brandon Bielak en route to a 10-5 victory over Pittsburgh Friday afternoon.
Shepski, who entered the game just 4-for-53 on the season, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the eighth inning. The Irish clung to a 4-3 lead, but the designated hitter hammered a 1-1 offering from Panthers’ reliever Isaac Mattson over the 405-foot sign in center field to push Notre Dame’s lead to 8-3.
The five-run cushion was more than enough. After Pitt cut into the Irish lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth, the Irish answered with two of their own to close the scoring, 10-5.
Bielak picked up the victory and improved to 1-3 on the season. The right-handed hurler allowed two earned runs on four hits in 6.0 innings of work. Bielak struck out seven and walked two. He blanked the Panthers over his final five innings on just one hit.
Sophomore Charlie Vorsheck tossed a perfect inning of relief in the ninth.
Nine different Notre Dame players registered a hit. Senior Ryan Lidge paced the 13-hit attack with three of his own. He added an RBI and two runs scored. Sophomore Matt Vierling went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and two runs scored. Freshman Patrick McDonald went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored. Senior Kyle Fiala added a solo home run.
Pittsburgh got to Bielak in the first inning. Jacob Wright opened the game with a triple and coasted home on Kaylor Kulina’s ensuing RBI single. After a flyout and groundout, Pittsburgh extended the lead to 2-0 on P.J. DeMeo’s RBI double.
Vierling laced Josh Mitchell’s first offering of the inning over the right-field wall to cut the Irish deficit to 2-1. It was Vierling’s third round tripper of the season.
Notre Dame tied the game, 2-2, on Fiala’s third homer of the season – a solo shot off RJ Freure to open the sixth. After a fly out, Vierling followed with a single and promptly stole second base. Daniel Jung followed with a walk. McDonald came to the dish and delivered an RBI double to give the Irish a 3-2 lead.
Pittsburgh loaded the bases with two outs, but Bielak fanned Manny Pazos to end the threat and keep the Irish one-run lead intact.
Jung and McDonald both walked. After a failed sacrifice bunt attempt, Lidge drew a walk which set the stage for Shepski’s grand slam.
- Notre Dame’s three home runs were a season-high. The Irish hit a pair of home runs vs. Monmouth on March 5.
- Notre Dame drew a season-high 10 walks. The Irish benefitted from eight free passes vs. San Diego on February 24.
- Notre Dame had drawn just 10 walks over its previous five outings.
- Shepski’s grand slam was the second for Notre Dame this season. Vierling hit a grand slam vs. Rhode Island on March 4.
The Irish and Panthers return to the diamond Saturday with a scheduled first pitch of Noon. The game can be seen on ACC Network Extra (via WatchESPN) with audio on WatchND and 103.1 FM in South Bend.
Michael Bertsch, director of football media relations at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2006. An Akron, Ohio, native, he graduated from Walsh University (Ohio) in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and also received his master’s degree in health and physical education with an emphasis in sports administration from Marshall University in 2001.
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