April 22, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS — After superb fielding for virtually the entire year and especially during a 10-2 stretch over the last 12 games, the University of Notre Dame defense had a night to forget Tuesday against Indiana University, as the Irish totaled five errors — including two critical miscues in the ninth inning — to give the Hoosiers a 6-5, walk-off victory in front of 8,728 fans at Victory Field, home of the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians.
Boasting a 5-3 lead and a 23-0 record this year when leading after the eighth inning, the Irish trotted out for the ninth frame looking to wrap up a victory over their in-state foes in the 100th all-time meeting between the two programs.
Freshman lefty Sean Guenther hoped to continue his almost perfect month of April (10.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 SO), but instantly ran into trouble, as the Hoosiers loaded the bases on back-to-back singles and a walk with no outs. After a big strikeout gave the inning its first out, disaster struck for Notre Dame.
Still with the bases loaded and leading 5-3, Guenther induced a grounder towards short that appeared to be a potential 643 double play to end the game. However, sophomore second baseman Cavan Biggio’s throw wasn’t on target at first base, which allowed two runs — one earned and one unearned — to score and tie the game at five. One batter later with two outs and runners at the corners, junior shortstop Lane Richards missed on a throw to first base, allowing Will Nolden to sprint home for the game-winning run.
The two errors in the ninth upped the Irish total to five on the night, which marked the most all year and the most since a 4-3 loss to Rhode Island March 3, 2013.
Guenther (1-2) suffered the loss after allowing three runs (1 ER), two hits and a walk in an inning of work.
Despite three errors through the first eight innings, the Irish appeared to have the game in control, as sophomore Scott Tully turned in another solid night on the mound and the Irish bats racked up five runs on 10 hits highlighted by two solo homers.
Clinging to a 3-2 lead entering the sixth inning, senior Ryan Bull cranked the first pitch of the frame over the right-field wall to up Notre Dame’s lead to 4-2.
The Hoosiers answered in the bottom half of the frame on an RBI groundout from catcher Brad Hartong, but senior Robert Youngdahl bumped the lead back up to two in the eighth on a solo homer to right field.
The loss spoiled another solid Tully outing, as the Reading, Massachusetts native earned his second quality start in three chances by going 6.1 innings and allowing three runs (1 ER) and three hits while striking out four in just 79 pitches.
Freshman reliever Brad Bass pitched a perfect 1.1 innings after Tully to lower his season ERA to 1.42. The New Lenox, Illinois native has allowed just three earned runs all year, with two of them coming in his first collegiate appearance Feb. 14. Since that time, he has a 0.51 ERA in nine appearances (17.2 IP).
Notre Dame’s combo of Jake Shepski (2-5, 1 R), Kyle Fiala (2-5, 1 R), Bull (1-3, 2 RBI, 1 R), Youngdahl (2-4, 1 RBI, 1 R) and Richards (2-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB) went a combined 9-for-20 with four runs, four RBI and a walk on the night, while the rest of the Notre Dame lineup went a combined 1-for-16 with one RBI and one run scored.
The Irish struck early against the Hoosiers, as they loaded the bases in the top half of the first on a pair of singles and a throwing error by pitcher Evan Bell on a sac bunt attempt by Biggio. Bull was then hit by a pitch to score the first run of the game. Sophomore Ryan Lidge followed with an RBI fielder’s choice and Richards broke out of a mini slump by cracking an RBI single to left field to stake Notre Dame to a 3-0 lead before the side was retired.
Indiana rebounded with two runs in the second inning, taking advantage of back-to-back errors to open the frame, as Nolden had an RBI single and Isaiah Pasteur tallied an RBI fielder’s choice.
Hartong led the Hoosiers with two hits, while Nolden had two RBI. Pitcher Ryan Halstead (1-1) picked up the win after throwing the ninth for IU.
Notre Dame (26-13) returns to the friendly confines of Frank Eck Stadium at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday night when the Irish welcome in the Chicago State Cougars (9-28-1) for a midweek contest. The Irish then head to Winston-Salem, North Carolina this weekend for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series at Wake Forest.
Today marked the 123rd birthday for Notre Dame baseball. On this day in 1892, Notre Dame beat Michigan, 6-4, in the first game in program history.
The crowd of 8,728 was the largest to watch the Irish play since 10,347 fans packed Alex Box Stadium to see Notre Dame take down No. 11 LSU, 7-1.
Tonight’s meeting between the Irish and the Hoosiers was the 100th all-time with Notre Dame boasting a 67-32-1 record now after the loss.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director