March 14, 2014
DURHAM, N.C. – Nine innings wasn’t enough to decide a winner Friday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference series opener between Duke and the University of Notre Dame at Jack Coombs Stadium. After the Blue Devils got the Irish to go 1-2-3 in the top of the 10th, a walk-off walk by Kevin Koplove in the bottom half of the 10th gave the home team a 4-3 victory.
Irish reliever Cristian Torres (2-2) entered the game in the ninth and got out of a jam by inducing a fly out and a groundout with the game-winning runner on third base. However, the Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., native struggled to find the strike zone in the 10th inning as two consecutive walks to open the inning put the winning run 180 feet from home. A sac bunt from Jordan Betts advanced the runners, which set up an intentional walk to Matt Berezo that loaded the bases. Up came Koplove, who worked himself into a 3-1 count. The next pitch saw Koplove toss his bat five feet behind him and start the jog towards first base before the home plate umpire Jay Furlong called him back and informed him the count was 3-2. A ball followed, which allowed Koplove to head to first and Mike Rosenfeld to cross the dish for the winning run.
With the loss, the Irish fall to 6-10 on the year, 0-4 in ACC play and 2-2 in extra-inning games. With basically a 100% chance of rain Sunday, the two teams will now play a doubleheader beginning at 1:05 p.m. Saturday to close out the series. The Irish will start RHP Nick McCarty (0-3) in game one to counter Duke RHP Andrew Istler (2-2). Notre Dame has yet to decide on a game three starter to go against RHP Michael Matuella (0-0).
Betts led the Blue Devils with three hits, while Koplove had two RBI.
Despite turning in his fourth quality start in as many outings, senior RHP Sean Fitzgerald earned the no-decision. The McLean, Va., native went 7.2 innings, allowing three runs on nine hits. He also struck out three and walked two in hurling 113 pitches.
On the other side, Duke starter Drew Van Orden went 6.1 innings and allowed three runs on five hits, two walks and three hit batters. The righty struck out seven on 101 pitches.
Notre Dame got on the board first in the third inning as the Irish capitalized on a lead-off double from Johnson and a walk from junior Ryan Bull that gave the Irish runners on first and second with no outs. Sophomore Zak Kutsulis nearly beat out a sac bunt that advanced the runners to second and third and Fiala brought home the first run of the game with a groundout to second base. With two outs, Biggio stepped up and took the first pitch he saw to center field to score Bull.
In what has become the norm for the Irish this season, the opponent answered back immediately in the bottom half of the third. A double by Aaron Cohn and a single by Mark Lumpa gave the Blue Devils runners on first and third with no outs. Later in the inning with one out, the ACC leader in homers Chris Marconcini grounded out first base to the pitcher to plate one run before Betts singled through the left side to score Lumpa and tie the game at two. Including tonight, Notre Dame has scored in 37 innings this year and allowed the opponent to score in the next at-bat 17 times.
In the fifth inning, the Irish went to work with two outs to reclaim the lead. Fiala earned a walk to extend his on-base streak to 12 games, which brought up Biggio. The Houston, Texas native has made plenty of big hits in his young career, but hasn’t delivered a two-out RBI – until tonight. He clocked the first pitch he saw into right field for a triple to easily score Fiala and make the score 3-2.
Duke tied the game at three in the sixth inning as Koplove hit a sac fly to right field to bring home third baseman Jordan Betts.
The Irish had chances to potentially win the game in regulation, but runners were tossed out in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to stop any Notre Dame threat.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director