April 17, 2016
By Russell Dorn
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Down 9-4 entering the bottom half of the seventh inning Sunday at Frank Eck Stadium, the University of Notre Dame baseball team plated 11 runs between the seventh and eighth frames to claim an 11-9 victory over Boston College and complete the three-game Atlantic Coast Conference sweep of the Eagles.
With the win, the Irish move into fifth place in the ACC with four conference series remaining in the regular season. Notre Dame has won five games in a row, 13 of its last 15 and 15 of its last 19 to improve to a season-high nine games over .500 (21-12, 9-7 ACC). The Irish are also 11-2 at home this season.
The Irish have now swept two ACC weekends this year (Virginia Tech and Boston College) and claimed victory in three of their last four league series. Notre Dame is also 7-2 against BC in the three years the two teams have been in the ACC together.
“Gutsy performance by a lot of people,” said head coach Mik Aoki. “Throughout the course of the game we stayed determined in what we were going to do. We always talk about that when you go up to the plate, there is no controlling the game situation, so all you can do is try to win the pitch and I think our guys did a remarkable job doing that today. I’m really proud of them.
Any time you have a chance to sweep in this conference it’s great. It’s such a tough league and BC is a quality team. Their body of work to this point in the season reflects that. We feel fortunate but I’m also pleased with how our team competed all weekend long.”
Notre Dame’s comeback began in the seventh when it plated five runs to tie the game at 9. Junior Cavan continued his monster campaign with a two-out, two-RBI single that cut the lead to 9-6. Sophomore Jake Shepski singled to score another and senior Zak Kutsulis drove a ball to deep left center to plate the tying runs.
In the eighth inning, junior recorded the game-winning single before senior Lane Richards gave the Irish an insurance run with an RBI single to centerfield.
After picking up a save in Friday’s win, Irish closer Brad Bass (1-0) hurled a scoreless 1.2 innings to pick up his first win of the season in the series finale.
Irish starter Ryan Smoyer only lasted 0.1 innings to start the game and Notre Dame burned through reliever after reliever to the tune of seven on the day. However, after the Eagles scored seven runs in the first two innings, the Irish pitchers allowed just two the rest of the game.
Junior Jim Orwick turned in the best outing of his career, allowing just one hit while striking out a career-high four batters in a career-high 2.1 innings to highlight the bullpen effort.
“What goes underappreciated during the game is when Jimmy Orwick comes in during the middle of them having all the momentum and steadies the ship,” said Aoki. “Those two zeros he put up were really big because it got us back into a mode where we could be a little more comfortable on offense.”
At the plate, six Notre Dame players had multi-hit days, led by senior Ricky Sanchez, who went 4-for-5 with a homer, three RBI and two runs scored. Sanchez had a monster, three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning to give Notre Dame an early 3-2 lead.
“The biggest thing from years past is that Ricky has made a tangible adjustment with two strikes,” said Aoki. “If you think of the changeup with two strikes today that he sends to left field … we eventually tie the game in that inning. I’m so happy for him because he’s a hard-working guy and he wants to be good. He’s been doing great for us.”
Elsewhere, Biggio went 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs, Shepski went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored, freshman Nick Podkul had two hits, Fiala had a 3-for-5 day with an RBI and three runs scored and Richards added two hits, a walk and an RBI.
Sanchez is now 19th in the ACC in average (.344). Biggio sits second in walks (39), sixth in on-base percentage (.497) and tied for sixth in stolen bases (11). Meanwhile, Shepski is second in slugging percentage (.844) and tied for third in batting average (.444) in ACC games only.
Notre Dame continues its busy stretch with midweek games at Michigan State (Tuesday, April 19) and at home against Central Michigan (Wednesday, April 20) this week before heading down to Tallahassee, Florida for a monster series with No. 4 Florida State next weekend.
For more information on the Notre Dame baseball, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).
Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning his master’s degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.