Feb. 13, 2015
NORMAN, Okla. – Down 6-5 in the seventh inning against SIU-Edwardsville in the season opener, University of Notre Dame baseball sophomore catcher Ryan Lidge cracked his first career homer – a two-run shot – over the right-field fence to give the Irish a thrilling 7-6 win over the Cougars. In the nightcap, Oklahoma pitcher Jake Elliott hurled seven innings of two-hit ball to lead the Sooners to a 6-1 win over Notre Dame in OU’s season opener.
Up 5-1 entering the sixth inning against SIUE, the Irish watched as the Cougars scored five unanswered runs over the next two innings to take a 6-5 lead entering the bottom of the seventh. However, Lidge’s homer coupled with three perfect innings from freshman pitcher Peter Solomon powered the Irish to the 7-6 win in game one.
“I knew we were in a tough situation, we had been battling all game. There was a lot of emotions running through us since it was the first game,” said Lidge. “That first at-bat, Mac (Hudgins) had just gotten hit by a pitch and we had two outs and I was just looking to make some solid contact and try to get something rolling. I didn’t think it would be a home run, but it was and I I’ll take it.”
In game two, Elliot pitched seven strong innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out four to keep the Irish at bay for much of the contest. Notre Dame had three hits and three errors in the game, while the Sooners tallied 12 hits.
“It was a tough game. We were in there putting up a good fight,” said Lidge. “We just have to move on. I honestly see it as a tough loss; things didn’t go our way. Their guy battled, but so did Scott (Kerrigan), so did Joey (Cresta), so did Evy (Ruibal) and so did Connor (Hale). So we just have to take it with a grain of salt and come out tomorrow and try and get the win.”
Several guys opened the year with solid showings at the plate. Freshman leadoff player Jake Johnson, totaled three walks, a hit by pitch and a hit in nine plate appearances, while senior Robert Youngdahl and junior Lane Richards both notched three hits. Sophomore Cavan Biggio had two walks and two hits, including a double.
Notre Dame (1-1) continues its three-game series against the Sooners (1-0) at 6 p.m. ET (5 p.m. CT) Saturday night, before a 1 p.m. ET (12 p.m. CT) Sunday finale.
GAME 1: Notre Dame 7, SIU-Edwardsville 6
After going 7-13 in one-run games a year ago, the Irish got a quick start in turning that record around in 2015, as Lidge crushed a two-run homer in the seventh inning to give Notre Dame a thrilling 7-6 win over SIU-Edwardsville.
In a game where the Irish led by as much as four runs at 5-1, Notre Dame had to ride the bat of Lidge late to avoid the upset on opening day.
Junior Michael Hearne got the start and was cruising through five innings before he ran into some trouble. He tied his career high with five strikeouts in just five innings, but was hurt early in the sixth inning by an error and walk that put two runners on with no outs. A double by Alec Saikal scored one and a sac fly from Collin Book scored another to trim the Irish lead to 5-3 and remove Hearne from the game just two outs from earning a quality start.
Reliever Ryan Smoyer entered after Hearne and got out of the sixth inning but had struggles in the seventh, as Parker Guinn led off the inning with SIUE’s second solo homer of the game before a double from Dustin Woodcock brought in righty reliever Matt Ternowchek. The senior didn’t have much luck in his appearance as Nick Lombardo rocked a triple to tie the game and Denton Reed notched a single to give the Cougars their first lead of the game at 6-5.
After Lidge’s go-ahead, two-run homer, Solomon came in a cruised through 2.2 innings, lighting up the scoreboard with his fastball up to 94, while striking out three and not allowing a base runner.
Several outstanding offensive performances highlighted game one, including Johnson, who had two walks, a hit by pitch and a hit in five plate appearances in the leadoff role. Youngdahl got off to a good start with two hits, a walk, an RBI and a run scored, while Richards notched three hits and an RBI. Senior Mac Hudgins tallied a pair of RBI and Biggio totaled a hit, two walks and a run scored.
The Irish got the season off on the right foot with an outstanding first inning. Pitches hit both Johnson and Kyle Fiala and Biggio earned a walk, as the first three batters all made it on base.
Later in the frame, Youngdahl drove in the first run of the year with a single to right center to bring home Fiala. Zak Kutsulis was then issued a walk to load the bases for Richards, who recorded an infield single to score Biggio and give Notre Dame an early 2-0 lead.
SIU-Edwardsville cut the lead by one in the top of the second on a Chase Green solo homer to left field.
Notre Dame upped its lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning on a Fiala RBI single and one inning later Hudgins clubbed a single through the left side to score Kutsulis and Youngdahl to give the Irish a 5-1 advantage.
The next two innings were all SIU-Edwardsville to set up Lidge’s heroics.
GAME 2: Oklahoma 6, Notre Dame 1
In the evening finale, Oklahoma got its season off to a great start behind a solid showing from Elliott, who kept the Irish out of scoring position for much of the night and allowed just two hits and two walks in seven innings of work.
The Sooners buoyed Elliott by scoring three runs in the third and one run each in the fifth, seven and eighth.
Irish pitcher Scott Kerrigan (0-1) suffered the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits, two walks and a wild pitch.
Notre Dame managed just three hits on the night, while totaling three errors on defense.
The Irish avoided a shutout in the eighth inning, as Biggio notched an RBI double down the left-field line.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director