May 12, 2017
By Michael Scholl
NOTRE DAME, Indiana – The University of Notre Dame baseball team got back to winning ways on Friday night, defeating Austin Peay, 5-2. After falling down 2-0 in the third, the Fighting Irish stormed back to score five unanswered runs, three via the long ball in the fifth.
Eric Gilgenbach and Eric Feliz both hit their first collegiate home runs. Gilgenbach’s tied the game at 2, while Feliz’s put the Irish ahead, 3-2. Matt Vierling and Cole Daily also knocked in runs for Notre Dame, which now stands 9-0 at home this season against non-conference foes.
The Irish struck out 11 thanks to the efforts off starter Brad Bass and relievers Patrick McDonald and Peter Solomon. Bass earned the win, limiting the Govs to four hits and two runs over six innings while striking out seven. McDonald struck out one in a perfect inning of relief, while Solomon got his third save by striking out a trio of Austin Peay hitters over two innings.
The visitors jumped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to Parker Phillips’ leadoff double. After a groundout moved him to third, Alex Sala hit a chopper to Irish first baseman Daniel Jung. Jung went to the plate, but the play was slow to develop and Phillips scored. Bass buckled down to strike out Imani Willis in a seven-pitch at-bat before Garrett Giovannelli flew out to end the frame.
The Govs added on just an inning later, but Bass battled to limit the damage to one run. Malcolm Tipler drew a leadoff walk before Cayce Bredlau doubled down the left-field line to put runners at second and third. Bass got a big strikeout of Brett Newberg for the first out before Chase Hamilton drove a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Tipler to make it 2-0. Bass then induced a groundout from Phillips to close the inning.
The Irish stormed to the lead in the fifth. Jung drew a one-out walk before with a 1-1 count, Gilgenbach drove a pitch down the left-field line. The ball was ruled foul after an initial point of fair by the home-plate umpire. Gilgenbach returned to the dish and left no doubt, homering on a 2-2 pitch to left and tying the ballgame. After Jake Singer struck out, Eric Feliz put the Irish ahead with a solo shot to left.
Notre Dame added some insurance in the eighth, although Irish pitching would eventually render it unnecessary. Jake Johnson started things with a double down the right-field line before Vierling drove a ball to the gap in right-center for an RBI triple. After Ryan Lidge was walked, Daily connected for a sacrifice fly to left to plate Vierling as the game’s final run.
- Gilgenbach and Feliz both hit their first career homers in the third.
- Feliz was only in the lineup after the Irish nearly lost Lidge to injury during batting practice. Lidge took a foul ball to the face during BP, requiring stitches. While he passed the concussion protocol, it forced Mik Aoki to alter his original lineup, which had backup catcher Bryce Gray doing the designated hitting, ensuring the Irish had a reserve catcher that would not require them to lose the DH. Instead, it was Feliz who got the start at DH and took advantage with his first career home run.
- In addition to a 9-0 mark in non-conference home games, Notre Dame is now 22-3 against unranked teams since March 4.
Notre Dame takes on Austin Peay State again Saturday, May 13, at 4:05 for the second of three games at Frank Eck Stadium. Watch on ACC Network Extra or listen on WatchND and 103.1 FM.
Ã¢â‚¬â€ ND Ã¢â‚¬â€
Michael Scholl joined Fighting Irish Media in August 2016, coordinating communications for the baseball program and assisting with the football team at his alma mater. The South Bend native earned a degree in political science from the College of Arts & Letters in 2009 before going on to work in athletics communications at Providence College, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati.
Fighting Irish Media intern Katherine Harvath contributed to this report. Harvath is a summer intern and student at Bowling Green State University.