Spartans Rally Past Irish, 3-2

NOTRE DAME, Ind. –  The University of Notre Dame baseball team (12-18) came up just short against Big Ten foe Michigan State (8-22), falling by a final score of 3-2 Tuesday night at Frank Eck Stadium.

How It Happened

Notre Dame starting pitcher Tommy Vail sat the Spartans down in order in the top of the first inning. In their half of the inning, the Irish got their offense started with a single to right field from outfielder Niko Kavadas. An errant throw from Michigan State’s Jarret Olson after a bunt attempt by Carter Putz left the Irish with men on 2nd and 3rd and just one out in the inning.  However, Notre Dame failed to capitalize on the scoring opportunity after falling victim to two consecutive strikeouts.

In the top of the third, Vail again retired all three Spartan batters he faced. Irish lead-off man Spencer Myers reached first base on an error in Notre Dame’s first plate appearance of the inning. Myers stole second base during the ensuing at-bat, and Kavadas followed up Myers’ steal with a walk. Carter Putz’s sacrifice bunt left the Irish with two runners in scoring position, and Eric Gilgenbach cashed in on the scoring opportunity with an RBI, putting Notre Dame up 1-0.  

Vail allowed his first base-runner in the top of the fourth inning via a one-out walk by Bailey Peterson, but Vail managed to get the next two Spartans out to keep Michigan state scoreless.

The Irish brought in reliever Andrew Belcik to work the fifth inning, and he kept Michigan State off the score sheet through five frames. Kavadas doubled the Irish lead with a towering blast to right-center field with one out in the fifth inning. The home run was Kavadas’ 10th of the season, doubling his previous career high of five homers.

Michigan State put up its first run of the game via a pinch-hit home run from Adam Proctor to draw the Spartans within one in the top of the sixth inning. 

After drawing a lead-off hit-by-pitch in the top of the seventh inning, the Spartans got back on the scoreboard thanks to an RBI-double by Zaid Walker, knotting the score at two runs apiece. An errant throw by the Irish gifted Michigan State another run, giving the Spartans their first lead of the ballgame.

Irish reliever Joe Boyle was able to work around a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning to keep the Irish deficit at just one run. Notre Dame could not find its way onto the scoreboard in the bottom of the eighth, and the Irish headed into the ninth inning trailing 3-2.

Boyle induced three strikeouts in the top of the ninth to prevent Michigan State from adding to its lead, giving the Irish an opportunity to rally. Notre Dame catcher David LaManna cranked a two-out single to keep the Irish’s hope of a comeback alive, but Spartans reliever Indigo Diaz tossed a strikeout to end the game.

Game Notes

  • Tommy Vail tied a career high with 10 straight batters retired to start the game.
  • Vail tossed a career high four innings in his second career start. He did not allow a hit, walked just one and had three strikeouts.
  • Niko Kavadas homered for the second-consecutive game with a solo shot to right field in the fifth inning.
  • It was his team-leading 10th home run of the season and he stays tied with Eric Gilgenbach for the team lead in RBI with 30.
  • Joe Boyle tallied three strikeouts for just the second time this season in his 1.1 innings of relief.

Up Next

The Irish will continue their five-game home week with a midweek matchup against Western Michigan Wednesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on the 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.