March 15, 2015
CLEMSON, S.C. – Behind six strong innings from junior righty Nick McCarty and timely hitting from the Irish bats, the University of Notre Dame baseball team finished off Clemson, 5-1, Sunday afternoon at Doug Kingsmore Stadium to secure the program’s first Atlantic Coast Conference road series win in two years in the league.
“It’s a great start,” said head coach Mik Aoki about the road series win. “But I place more emphasis in the way we go about our daily business that our players have been phenomenal with. It’s been a long time (on the road). Five weeks on the road to start the year and 10 straight days during this particular trip. I’m incredibly proud of the way these guys continue to compete and the attitude, energy and effort they continue to bring every day. It certainly turned into a good trip for us and is a good start, but that’s all it is. It’s two weeks with eight more to go.”
McCarty (3-1), who struggled in a short outing at Georgia Tech last weekend (2.2 IP, 3 R, 7 H), did what he needed to do against the Tigers, as he allowed just one unearned run, five hits, three walks and two hit by pitch in six innings of work to give his team a chance for the series win.
“Nick did a good job of just sort of managing,” said Aoki. “Last week the two-seamer for him just didn’t show up and sometimes that will happen. Today it was there for him. He made enough pitches and we made enough plays behind him. I thought it was a really good team effort. We swung the bat well. We had a good approach against their guys. I thought we played really well defensively. Nick pitched well and then Gunny (Sean Guenther) and Pete (Peter Solomon) came in and nailed it down for us.”
At the plate, pinch hitter Ricky Sanchez clocked a critical two-strike, two-out, two-RBI double in the eighth inning and junior Lane Richards recorded a hit, two RBI and a run scored to help the Irish overcome an early 1-0 deficit.
After the Tigers scored an unearned run in the first inning on a throwing error on McCarty followed by a sac fly from Steven Duggar, the Irish answered promptly with runs in the second and third innings.
A Clemson error at second base with two outs and the bases loaded in the second inning scored Richards from third, before the Pendleton, Oregon native tallied an RBI fielder’s choice to score Bull in the third frame and give the Irish their first lead of the game.
In the fifth inning, Richards came through big again for the Irish, as he placed a ball perfectly to the right side of the infield that resulted in an out, but again scored Bull to up Notre Dame’s lead to 3-1.
“Lane had several “family first” at-bats today,” said Aoki. “It doesn’t show up as a hit, it hurts your batting average but it helps our team goals. I just love the fact that guys have bought into that and Lane was certainly the epitome of that today.”
Later in the game after Bull suffered a minor shoulder injury sliding into third base, pinch hitter Ricky Sanchez stepped to the plate in the eighth inning with two outs. The Miami, Florida native fell behind 0-2, but didn’t get discouraged, as he cracked a double to left center to score two and give the Irish some much-needed insurance runs.
“Right now I’m trying to do everything that needs to be done as far as bullpens or getting the pitcher ready between innings if Lidge (catcher Ryan Lidge) was on base. I always try to be ready when my name is called on to help this team in any way I can.”
With the lead, the Irish turned to their rookie bullpen, as freshman Sean Guenther went two innings and allowed just one hit, while fellow freshman Peter Solomon pitched the ninth and gave up a pair of singles before inducing a 5-4 double play to end the game.
While the Irish pitching was certainly locked in today with only one unearned run allowed in addition to eight hits, two hit by pitch and three walks, the Notre Dame defense was outstanding, as it turned four double plays, including inning-ending DP’s in the fourth, fifth and ninth frames.
Elsewhere at the plate, Bull went 3-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored before exiting the game with the injury, and freshman Jake Johnson extended his on-base streak to start his career to 18 games with a walk and a hit. In all, nine different Irish players recorded hits on the day.
Clemson pitcher Zack Erwin suffered the loss despite giving up just three runs (1 ER) in seven innings of work.
The Irish have now beaten Clemson in back-to-back series since joining the ACC and are 5-2 all-time against the Tigers going back to an NCAA Tournament win in 1994 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium.
Notre Dame (14-4, 3-3 ACC) will head back to campus with the most wins before its first home game of the season in program history. The Irish meet Central Michigan at 6:05 p.m. (ET) Wednesday in the home lid-lifter for 2015.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director