May 18, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — After the best regular season finish in conference play since 2008, the University of Notre Dame baseball team was rewarded Monday afternoon, as five student-athletes were named to either the all-Atlantic Coast Conference third team or to the ACC all-Freshman squad.
Sophomore third baseman Kyle Fiala, sophomore RHP Ryan Smoyer and senior outfielder Robert Youngdahl earned third team all-ACC honors, while RHP Brandon Bielak and LHP Sean Guenther received ACC all-Freshman team accolades.
They are the first Irish players in program history to earn postseason honors from the ACC.
Fiala, who has an active 43-game on-base streak that’s the longest in the ACC and one of the longest in Division I, has had a breakout year at the hot corner. After batting .268 with six extra-base hits (all 2B) and 11 RBI as a freshman, the Carmel, Indiana native has upped that total to .297, 23 (19 2B, 4 3B & 4 HR) and 26 RBI. He also has 17 more runs scored and has cut down his errors in the field from 19 to eight to up his fielding percentage from .880 to .956.
After earning co-pitcher of the year honors in the Northwoods League this past summer, Smoyer came out of the bullpen for the first part of the year. However, that wouldn’t last for long, as the Bowling Green, Ohio became his squad’s midweek starter before quickly moving into the weekend rotation. The move to starter paid off for Smoyer, as he finished the regular season with an 8-0 record and a 2.06 ERA in 15 appearances (65.2 IP). His ERA places him fourth in the ACC and he is one of only two ACC pitchers (UNC’s Benton Moss — 7-0) of the 47 that pitched at least an average of one inning per team game to finish the regular season with an undefeated record. He was 5-0 in ACC games, picking up wins against Pittsburgh, then-No. 7 Florida State, NC State, then-No. 22 North Carolina and Boston College.
Youngdahl had a tough 2014 campaign after transferring to the Irish from Kansas State and Iowa Western Junior College, as the New Brighton, Minnesota native batted .225 with 39 hits and 15 extra-base hits (7 2B, 5 3B & 3 HR). However, he has bounced back in a big way in 2015, batting .295 with 64 hits and 26 extra-base hits (19 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR). He is third in the ACC in doubles and has a team-best .475 slugging percentage. He also has six of the team’s nine outfield assists while manning right field for the entire season.
A weekend starter for 13 of the 14 weeks of the season, Bielak was a constant for the Irish on the mound, tallying five quality starts and going over 100 pitches six times while finishing with a 5-2 record and 3.43 ERA in a team-high 78.2 innings of work. He held opposing batters to a .241 average and tied for the team high in strikeouts with 56. After not starting in the last weekend at Boston College, the Sayreville, New Jersey native entered in the first game and quickly made his presence known by hurling four outstanding innings and allowing just a solo homer, three hits and a walk while striking out six batters to earn the win.
A mainstay at the back of the bullpen all year, Guenther led the Irish with 26 appearances and five saves while notching a 2.70 ERA in 43.1 innings of work. After a tough first outing, the Atlanta native lowered his ERA in each of his next 10 appearances, eventually lowering it to a season-low of 1.97 after a pair of dominant showings against NC State. In a back-to-back appearances versus the Seminoles, Guenther picked up two saves in 3.2 innings of work while striking out seven. Five of the K’s came in a particularly dominant effort against FSU, where he struck out all but one batter over two perfect innings of work.
Notre Dame (35-19, 17-13 ACC) is seeded third in this week’s ACC Tournament and opens up action at 11 a.m. (ET) Thursday against NC State at Durham, North Carolina’s Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director