May 19, 2016
By Ben Auwaerter
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Despite a strong pitching performance from University of Notre Dame sophomore RHP Brandon Bielak, No. 16 Clemson pulled out an extra-inning victory over the Irish Thursday night at Frank Eck Stadium, 2-1, after sophomore Chris Williams crushed a solo homer with two outs in the 11th inning to give the Tigers its first lead of the game.
The solo homer spoiled another dandy of an outing from Bielak, who went seven innings and allowed an unearned run on four hits and six walks while striking out a career-high nine batters on 121 pitches.
Over his last 11 appearances (2 starts), Bielak is 3-1 with two quality starts, a save and a 0.82 ERA over 43.2 innings of work.
Sophomore LHP Sean Guenther turned in a dominant outing in relief until giving up the solo homer, going four innings and allowing just two hits and a walk.
Clemson starter, Charlie Barnes, was equally as impressive, going eight innings and allowing only one run on six hits while striking out seven batters on 115 pitches. Reliever Brooks Crawford (3-0) threw two perfect innings and Pat Krall (3 saves) hurled another to finish off the Irish.
Notre Dame was held hitless through the first three innings, but they would strike in the fourth. Junior Cavan Biggio led off the frame with a double to right field. Freshman Nick Podkul followed with a perfectly placed bunt single that moved Biggio over to third.
Sophomore Jake Shepski then plated Biggio with an RBI fielder’s choice, giving Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the 6th inning, Clemson pulled even, collecting two hits and a walk – and capitalizing on an Irish error in left field – to score a run and tie the game.
Notre Dame came close to pulling ahead in the bottom of sixth. With two outs, Shepski reached first base on a throwing error. Freshman Matt Vierling then singled up the middle, moving Shepski into scoring position. Clemson would end the threat by forcing a fly out to end the inning.
As both sides continued to struggle offensively, nine innings proved to be too few to determine the result. The teams would end up needing extra innings to decide a victor.
Unfortunately for the Irish, Clemson third baseman Chris Williams slammed the go-ahead home run over the left field wall in the top of the 11th inning. His sixth slam of the season put the Tigers ahead 2-1.
The Irish had one last chance in the bottom of the frame. After two hard hit outs, Vierling walked. With a runner on first, pinch hitter & senior Zak Kutsulis came to the plate, representing the game-winning run. Clemson, however, induced a groundout and brought the game to a close.
Notre Dame (27-25, 11-15 ACC) continues its series with Clemson (36-18, 14-14 ACC) Friday at 6:05 p.m. ET. Irish fans can follow the game through WatchND’s free video broadcast or live stats. Links for both are 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).
Ben Auwaerter is a freshman at Notre Dame and is from Lutherville, Maryland. He previously worked during the summer of 2014 with the Baltimore Orioles public relations office.