April 12, 2017
By Michael Scholl
NOTRE DAME, Indiana — The Notre Dame baseball team jumped out to a first-inning lead, then got exactly what they needed from senior starter Ryan Smoyer in an 8-3 win over Toledo Wednesday night. It was the fifth-straight victory for the Irish and eighth win in the last 10 games.
Ryan Lidge doubled in a pair in the first inning to propel the Irish to a 2-0 lead. Ryan Smoyer, making his first start since the season opener, ran with it, holding the Rockets to one run in four innings of work. Patrick McDonald, Charlie Vorsheck and Matt Vierling combined to hold Toledo to two runs on three hits over the final five innings.
Freshman Connor Power continued an impressive return from a concussion on the spring break trip by knocking in three runs and going 3-for-4. Lidge stayed hot at the plate, going 2-for-3 on the night while also walking and scoring. Cole Daily also kept swinging the bat well, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Daniel Jung and Kyle Fiala each knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Things got off to a shaky start for Smoyer, as the first two Toledo hitters reached with singles and were then sacrificed over to second and third. The senior buckled down and got a strikeout and flyout to keep the Rockets off the board.
Toledo starter Joey Prechtel would have no such luck. Nick Podkul led off the frame with a single before Jake Johnson was walked. Fiala was then hit by a pitch to load the bases, but Vierling went down looking. Lidge delivered with one out, sending a 2-2 pitch to left=center for a hustle double, scoring Podkul and Johnson. Daily battled but went down swinging on seven pitches before Power grounded out to end the frame with the Irish up, 2-0.
Notre Dame doubled its lead in the fourth of Toledo relief pitcher Alex Wagner. Lidge started the rally this time with a single to left-center. Daily then bunted for a base hit putting runners on first and second with no one out. Head coach Mik Aoki had Power swinging away and the rookie delivered with a single to left-center, scoring Lidge and moving Daily to third. Jung then came through with a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Daily and making it 4-0. A strikeout and popup ended the inning.
The Rockets added a single run in the fifth but really made things interesting in the seventh. Antonio Bennett started it with a one-out single before Brad Boss tripled to right center, scoring Bennett. Riley Campbell followed with a safety squeeze, scoring Boss on the sacrifice bunt to make it 4-3. McDonald then allowed a walk and single before giving way to Vorsheck who got a groundout to preserve the Irish lead at 4-3.
The Irish immediately answered with a crooked number to put the game away. With Kyle Slack now on the mound for the Rockets, Jake Shepski drew a leadoff walk on four pitches before Podkul and Johnson were both hit by a pitching, triggering another Toledo pitching change. Nate Haugh came in and Fiala knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly, with Shepski moving up to third. Johnson then advanced to second on a wild pitch, causing UT skipper Cory Mee to put Vierling on first. Lidge went down swinging before Daily hit an infield single to short to score Podkul. Power delivered the final blow with a single to center, scoring Vierling and Johnson to make it 8-3.
Vierling finished out the game from the mound in the ninth. After issuing a leadoff walk to Jake Krupar, Vierling struck out Boss looking before getting Campbell to hit a comebacker to the mound. The Irish turned a 1-6-3 double play to end the game.
The resurgent Irish carry their winning streak into a three-game series at No. 24 Wake Forest this weekend. Friday’s game begins at 6 p.m., with Saturday’s first pitch at 4 and Sunday’s contest getting underway at 1 p.m. All three games can be seen on ACC Network Extra, available via WatchESPN, and heard on WatchND and 103.1 FM.
— ND —
Michael Scholl joined Fighting Irish Media in August 2016, coordinating communications for the baseball program and assisting with the football team at his alma mater. The South Bend native earned a degree in political science from the College of Arts & Letters in 2009 before going on to work in athletics communications at Providence College, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati.