March 1, 2014
Box Score – Game 1
Box Score – Game 2
CARY, N.C. – After a frustrating 4-2 loss to rival Michigan in game one, the University of Notre Dame baseball team rallied in game two behind some remarkable relief pitching from sophomore Michael Hearne to claim a 6-3 victory over Youngstown State and earn a Saturday split on day two of the USA Baseball-Irish Classic at the USA Baseball National Team Complex.
Hearne (1-0) went 7.1 innings after entering the game in the second inning and allowed just one hit and no runs or walks while fanning five. The Palos Heights, Ill., native was brought in with bases loaded and no outs, but quickly squelched the threat with a strike out and a fly out that turned into a double play put out at the plate.
“Initially you get told that we’ll trade outs for a run or two (when entering with bases loaded and no outs), but after you get a strikeout you start thinking about getting a ground ball and trying to get out of it without giving up a run.”
Hearne did just that and then settled into a rhythm that saw him hurl just 75 pitches over the seven-plus innings, often times getting ahead in the count with first-pitch strikes.
Notre Dame plated three runs in the sixth to finally break away from the pesky Penguins and wake up from an early-game funk that seemed to carry over from the heart-breaking Michigan loss.
“It was tough (bouncing back quickly after tough Michigan loss), but that’s something Coach Aoki mentioned after the Michigan game that we have to brush it off and get back out there and get a win.”
The Irish (4-6) close out the weekend at 11 a.m. Sunday with the first of two season matchups with the Appalachian State Mountaineers (1-9). The Mountaineers bested Michigan, 4-1, Saturday to earn their first win of the campaign.
Michigan 4, Notre Dame 2 (Game One)
Michigan third baseman and pitcher Jacob Cronenworth earned the win and drove in the game-winning run, a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th, as the Wolverines bested the Irish, 4-2, in the first game of the day.
After a 0-0 game through six innings, the Irish struck first in the seventh off Wolverine reliever James Bourque. Bourque owned Notre Dame last year (2-0) by going 13.0 innings and giving up just one run on six hits while striking out 12. However, the Irish had Bourque’s number Saturday afternoon as they got something going in the seventh with two outs. The run began as freshman Ryan Lidge hit a bloop single to right field and then was pulled for pinch runner Conor Biggio. Up came Lane Richards, who tapped a double down the left field line that scored the hustling Biggio from first. Sophomore Zak Kutsulis came to the plate and mirrored Richards’ double with a double of his own down the right field line to plate Richards and give the Irish a 2-0 lead.
Notre Dame’s lead wouldn’t last for long, however, as the Wolverines quickly tied the contest up in the top of the eighth. Irish starting pitcher Nick McCarty had looked strong for much of the contest before Michigan finally got to him in the eighth. The Wolverines put runners on second and third to excuse McCarty from the contest after 7.1 innings of work. Freshman Jim Orwick entered to try and clean up the damage but gave up a single and a sacrifice fly to plate two runs and tie the contest at two. McCarty’s final numbers saw him give up two runs on five hits while walking three and striking out three.
After neither team could break the tie in the ninth, the first extra-inning game of the weekend saw Michigan get in position early to plate a potential game-winning run. An inning-opening triple by centerfielder Jackson Glines gave the Wolverines three chances to bring home a run. After reliever Cristian Torres issued a walk to put runners at first and third, a sac fly from the pitcher Cronenworth brought home Glines. Later in the inning after senior Donnie Hissa entered for Torres, a wild caught-stealing play gave the Irish the third out, but not before Travis Maezes snuck home from third to give the Wolverines a 4-2 cushion.
Three outs in the bottom of the 10th also gave Cronenworth is first win of the campaign after he went two innings and didn’t allow a hit or walk while striking out four. After four strikeouts in a solid 1.1 innings of work, things went sour for Torres (0-1) as he gave up a couple of runs to suffer the loss.
Lezynski had a two-hit day for Notre Dame. Freshman Cavan Biggio suffered through a tough 0-for-5 day at the plate to mark the first game the talented second baseman hasn’t reached base this season.
With the loss, the Irish continue their frustrations against their rival from up North. Notre Dame is 45-87 all-time against the Wolverines including losses in 13 of the last 16 contests.
Notre Dame 6, Youngstown State 3 (Game Two)
After giving up three runs in the first two innings to the Penguins, but matching them each time with runs of their own, the Irish finally broke away from Youngstown State in the sixth inning.
Youngdahl opened up the inning by getting plucked on the first pitch to give the Irish a base runner. Lezynski made YSU pay with a 2-0 double to right field that brought Youngdahl around from first to score. After a walk was issued to centerfielder Kevin Richardson, Josh North replaced Jared Wight (0-2) on the mound. Shortstop Lane Richards laid down a sac bunt to advance the runners to second and third and Johnson cracked a single to left field to bring Lezynski and Richardson home and extend the Irish lead to 6-3.
That would be all Hearne would need as he put together four 1-2-3 innings, including the seventh and eighth innings, before exiting in the ninth.
After scoring three runs in the first two games on the weekend, the Notre Dame bats finally woke up against the Penguins as the Irish totaled 12 hits. Johnson led the way with his second three-hit game of the season and for his career, while freshman Kyle Fiala put together his best offensive showing of the season with three hits, an RBI, walk and run scored. Richards also had his best outing of the young season with a 2-for-3 day at the plate. First baseman Ryan Bull got back on track at the plate with a pair of hits, a walk and run scored.
The one downside to the offense was a whopping 15 guys that were left on base throughout the course of the night. Notre Dame got a man on base in every inning to keep the pressure on the Youngstown pitchers. The Penguins threw 177 pitches on the night to 126 for the Irish.
The Irish defense committed one error but also turned their 16th and 17th double plays of the year.
Notre Dame and Youngstown State played for the first time on the diamond tonight.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director