April 4, 2014
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The University of Notre Dame baseball team entered historic Dick Howser Stadium Friday night and gave the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles all they could handle as the Irish took a 7-5 lead into the eighth inning. It wasn’t enough, however, as FSU overcame a two-run deficit in the late stages of the contest before winning in 12 innings, 8-7, on a walk-off single by shortstop Casey Smit.
Down 5-2 in the eighth, the Irish exploded for five runs with some help from the FSU defense. Junior Mac Hudgins got the inning going with a single with one out. After junior Blaise Leznyski walked, the pair stole second and third, respectively, and then advanced home on two separate errors on catcher Danny De La Calle (throw to second) and centerfielder Ben DeLuzio (throw to third) to move the score to 5-4. After freshman Cavan Biggio was hit by a pitch, Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston entered to try and control the damage. However, the Irish had no trouble with the hard-throwing right hander as pinch hitter James Nevant walked, catcher Ryan Lidge doubled down the left field line to score one and Youngdahl singled to score another to push the lead to 7-5.
FSU trimmed the lead to 7-6 in the eighth as Irish reliever Cristian Torres walked three batters in a row on 3-2 counts to plate Smit, who had reached on a 3-2 walk issued by RHP Donnie Hissa. In the ninth, sophomore Nick McCarty looked to close out the game, but FSU loaded the bases with one out and were rewarded with a sac fly by DeLuzio to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
In extras, the Irish had plenty of opportunities to take the lead as they had Ca. Biggio on third with two outs in the 10th, had the bases loaded with one out in the 11th and runners on second and third with one out in the 12th.
Notre Dame failed to capitalize on those opportunities, however, and FSU finally broke through in the bottom of the 12th as Gage West tripled to centerfield and was then brought home on a walk-off single by Smit to give the Seminoles the thrilling 8-7 win.
With the loss, the Irish continue to be frustrated by close games as they fall to 3-9 in one-run games and 2-4 in extra-inning contests this season. Despite having a 10-18 record (1-12 ACC), Notre Dame has only been outscored by 19 runs this year (130-111).
The Irish offense had several bright spots as it became just the fourth team to score seven runs or more on the Seminoles this year. Lezynski racked up three more hits to up his ACC average to .400. He has now recorded seven multi-hit games and five three-hit games on the year. He added two walks, an RBI and a run scored. Coming off the bench, Lidge had a pair of hits and the monster double in the eighth inning, while Hudgins had a nice day in the two hole with three hits and two runs scored.
Notre Dame also was the first team to have its way with Winston his year as the sophomore entered the contest with a 0.64 ERA after giving up just one run in 14 innings of work. However, he didn’t record an out against the Irish as he gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in only eight pitches.
Neither starting pitcher factored into the decision as Irish senior Sean Fitzgerald went six innings and gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits. He also walked three and struck out four. FSU starter Luke Weaver went 7.2 innings and gave up four runs on eight hits while striking out eight and walking one.
Reliever Taylor Blatch (1.0 IP) earned the win, while McCarty (3.1 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 4 BB) fell to 1-6.
Notre Dame pitchers combined to walk 13 FSU batters in the game.
While the last five innings were thrilling, the first seven offered some excitement of their own.
Notre Dame came out hot in the first inning as it recorded hits in three of its first four at-bats. Hudgins got the Irish started on the right foot with a sharp single to left field with one out. Lezynski came up next and cracked a liner to left field to bring Hudgins all the way around and give the Irish a 1-0 lead. Next freshman Kyle Fiala hit a single to centerfield to move Lezynski to third and give the Irish runners at the corners with one out. Unfortunately a strike out and a toss out on a double steal attempt at home plate ended the Irish threat but helped quiet – if even for a moment – the largest crowd (5,678) the Irish had played in front of all year.
After slumbering for two innings the Seminole bats finally awoke in the third inning as Smit (two-run homer) and DJ Stewart (solo shot) hit back-to-back homers to put FSU up 3-1. The homers marked the first time this season the Seminoles had hit back-to-back jacks. The Notre Dame pitching staff, meanwhile, had only given up two homers all year before the two bombs. Smit turned in four of FSU’s eight RBI and also scored a pair of runs.
The `Noles added to their lead in the fifth as Stewart cracked his second homer of the game – a two-run shot – to push the lead to 5-1 in favor of the home team. Stewart finished the game with three RBI and two runs scored.
Notre Dame got a run back in the seventh inning as Ca. Biggio led off the inning with a double to right field before eventually scoring on a grounder up the middle from pinch hitter Ryan Lidge.
The two teams continue their series at 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director