May 8, 2016
By Russell Dorn
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The comeback season to remember for senior LHP Michael Hearne continued Sunday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium, as the Palos Heights, Illinois native tossed 7.2 scoreless innings to help the University of Notre Dame baseball team to a 5-0 victory over Pittsburgh to close out the three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2015, Hearne wasted no time in hitting rehabilitation hard. Now 15 months removed from the injury, he continues to turn in an all-ACC caliber season.
Sunday was no different, as Hearne kept the Panthers off balance all day, allowing just six hits, a walk and a hit batter over 7.2 scoreless frames. He also tied a career high with seven strikeouts to lower his season ERA to 2.00. He has produced a team-high six quality starts and has three scoreless starts in his last four opportunities.
“Mike has been really good all year long,” said Irish head coach Mik Aoki. “It was good to have a guy that goes out there and competes and executes the way that he does out there for us today. Our players obviously play with some confidence behind him. Honestly, all weekend long we swung it well, but I think the pitching needed to be better and so Mike came in and being the stopper that he is got it going.”
With Hearne dealing, the Irish offense looked comfortable from the beginning, as they plated three runs in the first three frames and four in the first five.
Two innings later, Sanchez added an RBI double and sophomore Jake Shepski tallied a sacrifice fly to up the Irish advantage to 3-0.
Sanchez turned in another three-hit day to go along with an RBI and run scored. Biggio added two hits, a walk and two runs scored. Vierling had two hits, an RBI and a successful inning on the mound to close out the contest.
Sophomore Brad Bass recorded a big out with the bases loaded in the eighth to preserve the shutout.
The Irish (26-20, 10-12 ACC) welcome in No. 13 LSU this Tuesday (May 10) and Wednesday (May 11) for their final midweek games of the season. Both game times are set for 6:05 p.m. ET. The two-game series marks the return of former Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri, who now oversees the LSU program after leading the Irish to their last College World Series appearance in 2002 as part of a 533-win career under the Golden Dome. Tickets are available for both games online at UND.com/buytickets or at the stadium box office on game day. Fans can follow both contests through ESPN3, WatchND’s free online audio stream or live stats. Links for all three are located on the baseball schedule page of UND.com.
For more information on the Notre Dame baseball team, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).
Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning his master’s degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.