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Big Inning Sends Irish Past No. 9 LSU

Feb. 17, 2018

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Final Stats

BATON ROUGE, La. — With Mik Aoki turning to a freshman starting pitcher for the first time since 2016, the Irish offense spotted him a big lead with a seven-run third inning and Tommy Sheehan picked up the win in his collegiate debut with a 10-5 victory at No. 8 LSU on Saturday.

Sheehan got the win for Notre Dame (1-1) after going five innings, allowing four runs. Classmate Cole Kmet picked up the back end of the game, throwing four shutout innings with just one hit to earn his first save.

“I thought they were great,” head coach Mik Aoki. “For Tommy to go in there without his best stuff and navigate a place like this and a lineup like this was really good.

“Cole was outstanding. He’s a kid who is just a winner. He goes out there, competes, and I thought he was making pitches when he needed to. He fell behind a couple of times but came back. That was a huge pick-me-up from Cole.”

At the plate, Jake Johnson, Nick Podkul, Niko Kavadas Daniel Jung and Spencer Myers all had two hits apiece. Podkul and Kavadas each contributed three RBI, while Eric Gilgenbach drilled a two-run homer.

The Irish chased LSU (1-1) starter Zack Hess during a seven-run third inning after he gave up eight runs, all earned, on five hits and six walks. The Tigers did strike for three in the fourth and their bullpen kept them in the ballgame until the Irish plated a pair in the ninth, combining to allow just those two runs over 6.2 innings.

How It Happened

T1 | For the second game in a row, the Irish struck before the ninth-ranked Tigers came to the plate. Cole Daily, Podkul and Matt Vierling all drew walks to load the bases with one out for Kavadas, who knocked in his first collegiate run on a groundout to first. Gilgenbach ended the frame with a flyout to right, but the Irish had spotted Sheehan to a 1-0 lead before he took the bump.

B1 | Sheehan gave up a leadoff single and walk as LSU looked to respond, but worked out of the threat unscathed. He got Antoine Duplantis to flyout to left before Zach Watson, the Tiger clean-up hitter, hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the frame.

B2 | LSU did tie the game in the second, when Beau Jordan deposited a 2-0 pitch into the left field seats with two outs. Sheehan remained dialed in, getting Slaughter to groundout to complete the inning.

T3 | The Irish immediately responded to retake the lead in the third. Johnson singled to start things before Podkul and Vierling drew back-to-back walks. Kavadas came through again, singling down the left field line to score Podkul and Johnson. Vierling scored on a passed ball, with Kavadas moving up to second, before Gilgenbach hit the first Irish home run of the season to make it 6-1. Jung kept the pressure on with a double to right-center, before LaManna flew out, sending Jung to third. A Myers walk chased Hess from the game, but Daily kept rolling with a sac fly to the warning track in left, scoring Jung. Johnson followed with a single up the middle to put runners on the corner for Podkul. The junior extended his hitting streak with a single up the middle, scoring Myers and pushing the Irish lead to 8-1 before Vierling popped up to end the frame.

B4 | LSU got back within slam territory in the fourth with a three-run inning. Sheehan walked Duplantis to start the inning before Watson singled to put runners at the corners. After Sheehan set Daniel Cabrera down swinging, Nick Coomes singled to right, scoring Duplantis and keeping runners at the corners. Jordan walked before Jake Slaughter flew out. Brandt Broussard then delivered a big two-out hit to score Coomes and Watson and Sheehan got Josh Smith to fly out to end the inning with the Irish up 8-5.

B6 | LSU threatened to hang a crooked number in the sixth but Kmet limited the damage in his first outing. Shane Combs made his season debut on the mound to start the inning, walking a pair. Kmet entered and got a flyout, with the runner on second moving up to third, before Brandt Broussard hit a looping fly ball into foul territory in right. Gilgenbach made a running catch right between the tarp and mound of the LSU bullpen for the second out, with the runner scoring on the sac fly to cut the Irish lead to 8-5. After a walk, Kmet induced a groundout to first to limit the Tigers to one run.

Player of the Game

Eric Gilgenbach‘s two-run bomb was the big blow in seven-run third inning that propelled the Irish to victory. Gilgenbach also flashed the leather in right. He made a nice running catch in foul territory, between the LSU tarp and bullpen mount, to help limit LSU to one run in the sixth and made a leaping catch at the wall to end the eighth inning.

Stat of the Game

Notre Dame’s seven-run third inning was the biggest offensive frame by the Irish since May 14, 2013, when they hung seven on Western Michigan in the fourth inning. Notre Dame went on to win the game in Kalamazoo, Michigan, 13-10.

Game Notes

  • Notre Dame defeated a top-10 team for the first time since April 12, 2015, when the Irish completed a sweep of No. 7 Florida State at Frank Eck Stadium.
  • It marked the first road win over a ranked team since last season’s 8-2 upset win at No. 19 Virginia.
  • The Irish trail LSU, 5-4, in the all-time series and move to 4-3 against the Tigers at The Box.
  • Senior Jake Johnson extended his on-base streak to 13 games, dating back to last season.
  • Podkul extended his hitting streak to eight games, dating back to the 2017 season.
  • Podkul drew a walk on an 11-pitch at-bat in the third.
  • Daily swiped his fourth bag of the young season in the first inning.
  • Myers recorded his first collegiate hit and stolen base.
  • Notre Dame last started a freshman pitcher on May 16, 2016, when Connor Hock got the ball at No. 17 North Carolina.
  • The last time an Irish freshman started and picked up the win was Brandon Bielak. He defeated Florida State, 4-1, at Frank Eck Stadium, allowing one earned run, two walks and striking out five in 7.1 innings.
  • Notre Dame started an all-freshman battery for the first time under head coach Mik Aoki and for the first time since 2010. That year, the Irish started righthander Patrick Veerkamp while Joe Hudson got the nod behind the dish for a March 24 contest with UIC.
  • Attendance was 12,223, the sixth-largest crowd in LSU history. This came after the opening day crowd was the largest in program history.

Up Next

The Irish return to Alex Box Stadium for the series finale against No. 9 LSU. The game will be streamed live on SEC Network+, and fans can tune in on 103.1 FM.

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