March 26, 2014
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Behind a three-hit day from freshman Kyle Fiala and six innings of three-hit ball from sophomore Nick McCarty, the University of Notre Dame baseball team knocked off in-state foe Valparaiso, 4-1, Wednesday night at Four Winds Field in South Bend.
Notre Dame plated its four runs on 10 hits, which is the most they’ve racked up in two weeks, and held the Crusaders to just one run on five hits to improve to 2-0 at the South Bend Silver Hawks complex in downtown South Bend this season.
“Tonight was a much needed win,” said head coach Mik Aoki. “It was nice to see 10 hits on the board, it’s been a while since we’ve seen that. I thought we did a good job situationally as well. Overall, I’m pleased with the win.”
After suffering a pair of tough losses to Atlantic Coast Conference foe this past weekend, the Irish wanted to build some momentum against the Crusaders heading into another ACC weekend coming up in two days. Wednesday night proved to do just that, as the Irish plated two runs in the first and looked solid at the plate and in the field in earning the win. The Notre Dame defense turned two more double plays to up its nation-leading total to 32 and had just one error, a meaningless E6 in the sixth inning. At the plate, six players recorded hits, led by Fiala’s three, and four different student-athletes recorded RBI.
McCarty (1-5) earned his first win of the season after giving up three hits and a run in six innings of work to lower his ERA to below five for the season (4.89). He also struck out five as opposed to no walks. Senior Donnie Hiss pitched two innings and gave up two hits, junior Matt Ternowchek recorded one out in the ninth and junior Cristian Torres earned his second save of the year by producing the final two outs.
“This win feels really good,” said McCarty. “We’ve been working really hard for this and I’m glad to have that monkey off my back and get my first win. Saturday wasn’t exactly ideal so it’s a good feeling to come back and throw well again and beat a pretty good team in Valparaiso.”
“I didn’t think Nick was super sharp but I thought he battled through it nicely by being in the strike zone,” said Aoki. “He made them put it in play as opposed to giving up the free 90 (walk). It was good to see him bounce back after Saturday.”
The Irish plated a pair of runs in the first inning to take the early lead. Lezynski singled through the right side to bring home junior Conor Biggio, while Cavan Biggio hit his team-leading fifth sac fly of the year to score Lezynski.
Valpo answered back in the top of the second as Michael Morman led off the inning with a single before advancing to second on a stolen base and to third on a ground out. A few pitches later, a wild pitch from McCarty allowed Morman to sprint home.
Notre Dame added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth and seventh innings as Kutsulis doubled down the right field line to bring in Fiala in the sixth and junior Mac Hudgins laid down a perfect RBI sac bunt to plate pinch runner Jack Flaherty.
Morman led the way for the Crusaders at the plate as he recorded two of the five hits on the day for Valpo as well as its only run. Taking the loss on the mound was Ellis Foreman (1-1), who went seven innings and gave up all four runs on nine hits.
The Irish return to ACC action this weekend when they welcome in Wake Forest for a three-game set. The two squads kick off the series at 8:05 p.m. (ET) Friday at Four Winds Field before heading to the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Ind., for a 2:05 p.m. (CT) Saturday showdown. The series finale will be at 1:05 p.m. (ET) Sunday at Four Winds Field.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director