CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina — The Notre Dame baseball team got ACC play off on the right foot Friday afternoon with a 8-5 win over North Carolina at Boshamer Stadium. Notre Dame scored first in the second inning and never looked back as the Irish won their fourth game in a row and seven of their last eight.
“Very proud of the way the guys performed tonight,” said head coach Link Jarrett. “Tommy Sheehan got us out of the gates well. I know he wishes he could have gotten deeper, but he handed the ball to Vail at a time when we needed to change the look.”
“Vail did a great job working out of a first and second and n0 out jam. Niko’s home run broke the ice early, and our approach and two strike hitting was good tonight up and down the lineup. Our guys have responded well with our base running concepts and I thought we ran the bases very well tonight. Proud of the toughness our guys showed in this game, especially after our tough travel.”
Niko Kavadas continued his hot streak with a solo home run in the second and the Irish (8-2, 1-0 ACC) tacked on three more runs in the fourth. Tommy Vail came on in relief and kept the Tar Heels (10-5, 0-1 ACC) at arm’s length as the Irish continued to add runs at the plate. The team totaled 11 hits, the sixth game this season they have had double digit hits.
How It Happened
As they have done for most of the season, the Irish scored first in the top half of the second. Kavadas led the inning off with a solo blast to right center that nearly cleared the protective netting in right center. It was Kavadas’ team and conference-leading sixth home run of the season to five the Irish a 1-0 lead.
Notre Dame kept the offense coming in the top of the third. Jack Brannigan scored on a bases loaded walk by Jared Miller and Spencer Myers scored on a sacrifice fly by Kavadas. Zack Prajzner added another run for the Irish in the third with an RBI single to left that scored Carter Putz. Once the top half of the third was over, the Irish plated three runs and held a 4-0 advantage.
North Carolina broke through in the fourth inning, scoring two runs in the inning after stringing together a number of hits. A timely play by Prajzner at short, getting the lead runner out at third and an ensuing groundout to short got the Irish out of the inning.
The Tar Heels were threatening in the fifth when Vail came on in relief. He collected two strikeouts in the inning, including one against Lancellotti with runners on second and third to end the inning and the threat.
The Irish got back on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth as the inning got started with a David LaManna walk. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and came home to score on Myers’ RBI single to left center. It was Myers’ second hit of the ball game for his sixth multi-hit game in a row.
Vail put the Tar Heels down in order in the bottom of the sixth. He picked up his third strikeout of the afternoon after a 10-pitch at-bat to Eric Grintz.
The Tar Heels cut the deficit to one after a runner reached on a throwing error and Aaron Sabato hit a two-run homer to left. Vail settled down after the home run and got the final two outs, including his fifth strikeout of the afternoon to end the frame.
Miller got one of the runs back for the Irish in the top of the eighth. With two outs and runners on first and second, he singled up the middle to score David LaManna.
LaManna scored again in the ninth after a heady steal of second put him in scoring position. On the next pitch, Brannigan singled to left field and LaManna came home to score. Brannigan scored himself after a wild pitch later in the inning.
- Niko Kavadas hit his team-leading sixth home run of the season in the top of the second. He has hit five home runs in his previous four games.
- Kavadas finished the day with two RBI. It was his fourth-straight multi-RBI game and fifth of the season.
- Spencer Myers tallied his sixth-straight multi-hit game after going 2-for-4 with two steals and a RBI.
- Myers tallied his fifth multi-steal game of the season. He currently leads the NCAA in steals with 15 through nine games.
- The Irish finished the game with six steals. Heading into the game, North Carolina had allowed only seven steals through 14 games.
- Tommy Vail picked up his second win of the season after 5.0 innings pitched and eight strikeouts.
- The Irish tallied 11 hits in the win, their sixth game this season with double-digit hits.
- Jack Brannigan tied career highs with two runs, two hits, two RBI while setting a career high with two stolen bases.
The Irish return to Boshamer Stadium for game two of the three-game series Saturday afternoon. Sophomore right-hander Alex Rao will be on the mound for the Irish in the middle game of the series with first pitch set for 2 p.m. ET on the ACC Network Extra.