March 11, 2015
SAVANNAH, Ga. – On a hot and muggy night deep in Savannah, Georgia, the University of Notre Dame baseball team outlasted a spirited effort from the Savannah State Tigers to earn a 5-3 win in 11 innings at Tiger Baseball Field and improve its 2015 non-conference record to 11-1.
After nine innings weren’t enough, both teams went down in order in the 10th frame to get the two squads to the 11th inning. For Notre Dame, the game marked its second extra-inning contest in five days and of the season.
In the 11th, the Irish looked to finally get to Tiger reliever Zach Chandler (0-1), after the righty struck out five consecutive Notre Dame batters between the ninth and 10th innings.
With one out, junior Lane Richards notched an infield single to get the Irish a critical base runner. Fellow junior Zak Kutsulis stepped up next and hit the ball towards the second baseman Jacob Lightle, who looked to turn two and send the two teams to the bottom half of the 11th. However, he bobbled the ball and then rushed a throw to first baseman Charles Sikes, who dropped the ball, allowing Richards to get to third and put Kutsulis on first.
Pinch hitter Ricky Sanchez then laid down a near perfect sac bunt that scored Richards and also scored Kutsulis after Sikes threw the ball into foul territory trying to put out Kutsulis at third after some aggressive base running from the Homer Glen, Illinois native.
Taking a 5-3 lead into the home half of the 11th, freshman Brad Bass ran into trouble with back-to-back walks to open the frame. However, catcher Ryan Lidge picked off Ryan McCranie at second and Bass tallied a swinging strikeout and a fielder’s choice to secure the hard-fought victory for the Irish. The save was the first in Bass’ career after picking up the first two wins of his career over the last couple of weeks against Akron and Georgia Tech.
“You look at some of the teams they have beaten this year, they beat a Wofford team that entered here 12-4 last night,” said head coach Mik Aoki. “It’s always tough to get wins on the road. Coach (Brian) Kelly talk about it a lot. We typically get everyone’s best effort, and Savannah State played its rear ends off. We were fortunate to put a little pressure on them in that last inning and come out with a W.”
In an exciting, back-and-forth game, the Irish and Tigers matched each other’s runs, with Notre Dame scoring a run in the second, fourth and eighth innings and Savannah State plating runs in the third, fifth and eighth frames.
Each team turned to the bullpen early and often, as Notre Dame trotted out five pitchers and the Tigers threw four. The game was sloppy on the mound for both teams, as they combined for eight wild pitches, 11 walks and 14 hits, but just eight total runs (six earned).
Irish freshman Peter Solomon (2-0) picked up his second win of the season after hurling an impressive two innings that included three strikeouts, an impressive diving pop-up catch and no hits or walks allowed.
At the plate, senior Ryan Bull, Lidge and Richards each had two hits, with Lidge adding two walks and two runs scored, while Richards had a walk and run scored. Sophomore Cavan Biggio had a walk, hit by pitch and run scored.
For the Tigers, third baseman Zachary Brigham recorded a double, a single and two RBI and right fielder David Richards had a walk and an RBI.
On defense, Savannah State turned three critical double plays on the night, which kept the Irish from potentially breaking the game open at multiple points.
After going 2-6 in extra-inning games and 8-18 in two-runs or less games a year ago, the Irish are 2-0 and 6-0 in those categories, respectively, this year.
Notre Dame (12-3, 1-2 ACC) continues its ACC road swing this weekend, as the Irish head to the upstate of South Carolina to meet the Clemson Tigers (8-7, 1-2 ACC) in a three-game set. All three contests will be streamed live on ESPN3 and can also be followed through WatchND (audio) and live stats. Links for all three are on UND.com.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director