March 12, 2016
Box Score – #4 Louisville 4, Notre Dame 3 (11 Innings)
Box Score – #4 Louisville 8, Notre Dame 2
By Russell Dorn
Louisville, Ky. – After recording four walk-off wins in seven games, the University of Notre Dame baseball team fell by way of the walk off Friday at No. 4 Louisville, as the Cardinals tallied a two-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to win game one of a doubleheader at Jim Patterson Stadium. The Cardinals completed the Friday sweep with an 8-2 victory in the nightcap.
Despite the loss, Notre Dame saw several strong individual performances of note throughout the day, but none more so than senior Zak Kutsulis, who recorded the first cycle by a Notre Dame player since Alec Porzel had a perfect 6-for-6 day May 7, 2000 against Pittsburgh.
Elsewhere, freshman Matt Vierling extended his on-base streak to 13 games to start his career, while sophomore Jake Johnson extended his on-base streak to 12 games before sitting out game two of the doubleheader.
Notre Dame (6-7, 0-2 ACC) wraps up its ACC series against the Cardinals at 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday. Fans can follow along through ESPN3 (video), WatchND (audio) or live stats. Links for all three are on the UND.com baseball schedule page.
GAME 1: No. 4 Louisville 4, Notre Dame 3 (11 Innings)
After Kutsulis hit an RBI double to give the Irish a 3-2 lead in the top of the 11th inning the Cardinals answered with a walk-off, two-run homer from Nick Solak to clinch a 4-3 victory and put a bow on a wild back-and-forth contest between the former BIG EAST rivals.
Irish RHP Ryan Smoyer and Cardinal RHP Kyle Funkhouser went toe-to-toe for the first six innings, as each kept the opponent off the scoreboard.
Smoyer finished with his third quality start of the year in four appearances after allowing a run and nine hits over 7.2 innings of work to lower his ERA to 2.30.
Funkhouser went eight innings and allowed one run, three hits and two walks.
Neither team crossed home plate until the seventh, when Kutsulis went yard for the first time this season by taking a 0-1 pitch and depositing it over the right field wall.
Louisville quickly tied the game up in the bottom half with a leadoff solo homer by Danny Rosenbaum.
After two scoreless frames sent the game to extra innings, Notre Dame regained the lead in the 10th on a Lane Richards RBI single to center field that brought around Vierling from second base on a nice piece of running from the St. Louis native.
However, the Irish couldn’t hold the lead in the 10th, as Will Smith tallied a walk with the bases loaded off Notre Dame reliever Peter Solomon to tie the game at 2 and send the game to the 11th.
Kutsulis hit for the cycle by tallying a single in the first inning, a homer in the seventh, a triple in the ninth and a double in the 10th. He added two RBI and a run scored.
Vierling had a two-hit game to extend his on-base streak to 12 games to start his career, while Johnson added a hit and run scored to extend his on-base streak to 12 games as well.
Junior Cavan Biggio was issued two walks to up his season total to 16.
Sophomore LHP Scott Tully (1-2) suffered the loss after giving up the homer in the 11th. Louisville reliever Zack Burdi (1-0) earned the win after recording a pair of strikeouts in the top half of the 11th inning.
Six different Louisville batters recorded multi-hit days.
GAME 2: No. 4 Louisville 8, Notre Dame 2
The Cardinals took advantage of three walks and a throwing error to plate six runs in the first inning on their way to an 8-2 victory in the nightcap.
Louisville batted around in the first inning off Irish pitcher Brandon Bielak (0-1). Bielak went three innings and allowed six runs (4 ER), four hits and four walks.
On the other side, Cardinal sophomore pitcher Brendan McKay twirled a gem, striking out 13 Irish batters over 6.2 innings and allowing just two unearned runs to lower his season ERA to 0.33.
Notre Dame plated its only runs of the game on a Ryan Lidge double in the fourth inning.
For the Irish, junior Kyle Fiala recorded a pair of hits.
For more information on the Notre Dame baseball, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).
Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning his master’s degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.