March 7, 2015
ATLANTA – After holding the Georgia Tech bats to only two runs on Friday night in game one of an Atlantic Coast Conference series, the University of Notre Dame baseball team couldn’t duplicate the feat Saturday afternoon at Russ Chandler Stadium, as the Yellow Jacket bats busted out for double-digit runs on 14 hits in an 11-7 victory to even the series at a game apiece.
“We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” said head coach Mik Aoki. “Obviously we aren’t happy and are never excited in regards to a loss, but I thought our compete level was great. We kept coming at them even though there were multiple times that we could have thrown in the white towel so to speak. But we never did give up until the final out. We were relentless in our approach and it will pay off for us whether we win tomorrow’s game or not. If we keep being relentless the way we were and we keep attacking the baseball game pitch by pitch, we will be fine.”
Despite Georgia Tech piling up seven runs through the first six innings, the Irish wouldn’t go away, as they totaled five runs between the fifth and seventh innings to pull within two.
However, the Yellow Jackets put the game away in the eighth frame by plating four runs, including three on a bases-clearing triple from freshman standout Kel Johnson that put GT up six at 11-5.
Sophomore catcher Ryan Lidge recorded his second homer of the season in the ninth inning, but it wasn’t enough to help stretch his team’s win streak to 11 games.
Georgia Tech (10-4, 1-1 ACC) saw six players tally all 14 hits, as four guys had two hits and two players totaled three. The Irish were especially hurt by Johnson’s three-RBI triple, a monster two-run homer by A.J. Murray in the first inning and a two-RBI double off the bat of Murray in the fifth frame. The talented senior finished with four RBI and a run scored on the day.
Elsewhere, leadoff hitter Daniel Spingola drove in both Yellow Jacket runs in the first inning on a single and added an RBI infield single in the eighth frame. Meanwhile, Matt Gonzalez led off the sixth inning with a solo homer to put GT up 7-3.
Notre Dame (11-2, 1-1 ACC) scored two runs in the fifth inning and one in the sixth to inch closer to the Yellow Jackets. However, Georgia Tech matched the Irish runs in the next half inning both times to maintain a four-run lead entering the seventh inning.
The Irish used four pitchers on the day with mixed results. Freshman starter Brandon Bielak (2-1) went 4.2 innings and gave up six runs on eight hits and three walks. Sophomore Ryan Smoyer followed with 0.2 innings of work and allowing a run on two hits and a walk.
Sophomore Scott Tully entered in the sixth inning and recorded six outs before it all started coming apart in the eighth, as he gave up four runs (three earned). Freshman Evy Ruibal closed out the game with a perfect 0.2 innings.
At the plate Notre Dame’s four, five and six hitters went a combined 7-for-14 with a homer, three doubles, two RBI, a walk and six runs scored. Senior Ryan Bull notched two doubles as part of a three-hit day and also scored a team-high three runs. Fellow senior Robert Youngdahl totaled a double, a single and a run scored, while Lidge had two hits – including his homer – two RBI and two runs scored. In the two hole, sophomore Kyle Fiala tallied a double as part of a two-hit day and an RBI.
In a pinch-hitting role, senior Conor Biggio recorded a two-out, two-RBI single in the seventh inning to pull the Irish to within two runs at 7-5.
Elsewhere in the game, freshman Jake Johnson extended his on-base streak to 13 games to start his career with a walk, while sophomore Cavan Biggio saw his 12-game hitting/on-base streak end with a 0-for-5 day.
The two teams will play the rubber game at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday. Fans can watch the game online through ESPN3 or listen online through WatchND (WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend). Links for both are available on UND.com.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director