NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame baseball team came back from a three-run deficit against the Valparaiso Crusaders, winning by a final score of 4-3. The Irish scored four unanswered runs to claim their third victory in a row after winning the final two games against Pitt over the weekend.
How It Happened
After sitting down Valparaiso’s leadoff man, Irish starting pitcher Andrew Belcik gave up a single down the left side to Sam Shaikin. However, Belcik did not allow the Crusaders’ baserunner to advance, as he induced two straight outs to send Notre Dame to the bottom of the first inning.
The Irish could not get their bats going in their half of the inning, as Valparaiso hurler Keegan Bates struck out the first two Notre Dame batters and caused the third to fly out.
An error allowed Crusaders center fielder Steven Fitzsimmons to reach first base on an error, but a timely double play gave Belcik his second consecutive scoreless frame to start the game.
Bates picked up right where he left off in the bottom of the second inning, as he struck out the first Notre Dame batsman he faced, and induced a fly out from the second. With two outs, Carter Putz managed to give the Irish their first baserunner of the game via a walk, but Notre Dame could not advance him any further.
Belcik matched Bates’ scoreless inning with one of his own, as he posted a 1-2-3 inning to keep the score knotted at zero after the top of the third inning.
Irish shortstop Jared Miller reached base via a leadoff hit-by-pitch, and Zack Prajzner advanced him to second base with a fielder’s choice. After a foul-out left Notre Dame with two outs in the inning, Bates induced a flyout to preserve his shutout.
Shaikin produced another single in his second at-bat of the evening, a wild pitch and a walk gave the Crusaders men on first and second in the top of the fourth inning. A subsequent walk from Belcik loaded the bases for Valparaiso with just one out, and Belcik’s second walk of the inning gave the Crusaders a 1-0 lead. The Irish brought in reliever Shane Combs to get them out of the jam, but a sacrifice fly allowed Valparaiso to double its lead before Combs could retire Jeremy Drudge with a strikeout.
The Crusaders added another run in the fifth and increased their lead to 3-0 as the Irish were still looking for their first hit of the game.
Prajzner broke up Bates’ no hitter with a one-out single to left field, and Spencer Myer followed that up with a single of his own to give the Irish another scoring opportunity. Niko Kavadas cashed in on the scoring chance with a two-RBI double down the right field line, trimming Notre Dame’s deficit to just one. A single by Jack Zyska gave the Irish runners on the corners, and Gilgenbach hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at three runs apiece.
Notre Dame brought in Andrew Holubecki to work the sixth inning, and he posted a scoreless frame to keep the score tied.
Valparaiso reliever Montana Quigley posted a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the sixth, preventing the Irish from adding to their scoring total.
Holubecki was called upon again in the seventh and after allowing a single, Evan Tenuta entered the game to get the final out of the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, a throwing error by Quigley allowed Myers to reach second base, and a sharp single to right field by Kavadas brought Myers home, giving the Irish their first lead of the ballgame. Another error, this time by Valparaiso first baseman Brent Jones, put Kavadas on second base with one out in the inning. Zyska drew a walk to give Notre Dame men on first and second, but the Irish could not generate any further offense in the inning.
The Irish brought in Joe Boyle to pitch the eighth, and he gave Notre Dame its third consecutive scoreless inning, leaving the score at 4-3.
Boyle was called upon to close out the Crusaders, but a walk and a passed ball gave Valparaiso a man on second with no outs in the top of the ninth. However, Boyle tossed three consecutive strikeouts to shut the door on Valpo, giving the Irish a hard-earned 4-3 comeback victory.
— Notre Dame Baseball (@NDBaseball) April 24, 2019
- Niko Kavadas led the Irish with 3 RBI on the night after going 2-for-4 from the plate.
- It is the fifth game this season that Kavadas has had three RBI or more.
- Evan Tenuta recorded his first collegiate win. He closed out the top of the seventh in a tie game before the Irish took the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
- Spencer Myers scored twice from the leadoff spot against the Crusaders, his sixth game this season he has had two or more runs.
- Joe Boyle tossed two innings of scoreless relief to pick up his second save of the season. He struck out three and did not allow a hit in the two innings of work.
The Irish will host NC State over the weekend for their annual Strikeout ALS weekend. Admission is free all weekend and donations will be accepted to benefit the Pete Frates #3 Fund. The series will kick off Friday night at 6 p.m. ET and all three games will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.
For a behind-the-scenes look at the Irish baseball program, follow @NDBaseball on Twitter and @NotreDameBaseball on Instagram. For tickets to an Irish baseball game, click here.