March 14, 2015
Box Score– Game 1
Box Score– Game 2
CLEMSON, S.C. – A pitching gem from Clemson’s Matthew Crownover in game one was followed by an offensive clinic from the Irish bats in the nightcap, as the University of Notre Dame baseball team split a Saturday Atlantic Coast Conference doubleheader against the Clemson Tigers, 6-1 and 11-6, at Doug Kingsmore Stadium to force a 1 p.m. Sunday rubber game between the two squads.
Notre Dame (13-4, 2-3 ACC) didn’t have much of an answer against Crownover (4-0) in game one, but brought out its best in game two, as the Irish pounded out a season-high 16 hits and scored two or more runs in four frames. Up 6-0 through five innings, the Irish had to weather a remarkable comeback from the Tigers (9-8, 2-3 ACC) that saw the home squad tie the game up with a six-run sixth inning. However, the Irish plated two runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth to seal the win.
“It was a huge win,” said Solomon. “The loss gave us more energy and instead of beating us down it got us more fired up. We were looking to even the series in game two and get the momentum back. This team just doesn’t give up.”
At the dish on the day, junior Zak Kutsulis recorded three hits – including a double and a triple – and scored two runs, while senior Robert Youngdahl tallied a career-high three doubles in the second game to become the first Irish player to accomplish that feat since Ross Brezovsky on April 6, 2008 in an 11-2 win over Rutgers.
“To be able to bounce back like that showed a lot about this team,” said Kutsulis on the win in game two. “Even though we had our struggles in the first game we overcame them to come back strong in the second one.”
The two squads will wrap up their weekend series at 1 p.m. Sunday. ESPN3 will stream the game live online, while WatchND will have the audio version. Links for both are available on UND.com.
Game 1: Clemson 6, Notre Dame 1
Behind a gem of a pitching performance from Crownover, the Tigers took game one of the Saturday doubleheader, 6-1.
Crownover (4-0) walked four, but allowed just three hits in severely limiting Notre Dame’s scoring opportunities. The Ringgold, Georgia native recorded three 1-2-3 innings and went eight innings, giving up just one unearned run while striking out six batters.
When the Tigers were at the plate they scored multiple runs in two innings, including two to open the game.
After the Irish trimmed the lead to 3-1 in the top half of the sixth inning, Clemson freshman Chase Pinder cracked his first career homer to up the Tigers’ lead to 5-1.
That would just about do it for Irish starter Scott Kerrigan, who gave up five runs on six hits and three walks while striking out four in six innings of work and 100 pitches.
While the numbers weren’t outstanding, Kerrigan retired nine batters in a row during the middle innings after a tough first couple of innings. The Saugus, California native seemed to have found his groove before the big two-run homer in the sixth.
Despite scoring one run in the sixth, the Irish probably felt like they should have had more. With runners on second and third and no outs, a fly out to right field looked like it should plate one run. However, right fielder Steven Duggar had other ideas, as he unleashed a cannon throw to toss out J. Johnson at home plate and give Notre Dame two outs.
At the plate, Johnson, Fiala and Ryan Bull recorded one hit each, while Fiala scored the lone Irish run.
For Clemson, Duggar, Tyler Krieger and Reed Rohlman tallied two hits each, while combining for three RBI, three runs scored and two walks.
Game 2 – Notre Dame 11, Clemson 6
The Notre Dame bats awoke in game two to help the Irish jump out to a 6-0 lead through five innings.
However, one half inning changed everything, as the Tigers blitzed the Irish for six runs in the sixth inning to tie the game up.
The Irish didn’t pack up and go home though, as they answered with two runs in the eighth inning and three in the ninth to clinch the Saturday split.
Behind an impressive first five innings from freshman pitcher Brandon Bielak, the Irish offense received a shot of life, as sophomore Cavan Biggio clocked an RBI single in the first inning and J. Johnson recorded a fielder’s choice RBI in the second. One inning later, Lane Richards had an RBI ground out and Kutsulis tallied an RBI triple to up the Notre Dame lead to 4-0. A throwing error scored Richards early in the fifth and an RBI ground out from Johnson gave the Irish a 6-0 lead entering the bottom half of the sixth frame.
The Irish ran off Tiger starter Brody Koerner early (3.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 3 SO) and faced off against six Clemson pitchers on the day.
Everything fell apart for Notre Dame in the bottom half, as they gave up six runs on five hits and two errors to run Bielak from the game with the hard luck no-decision.
A pair of freshman pitchers settled the Irish down, however, as Guenther allowed just two hits in 1.1 innings of work, before Solomon closed out the Tigers with 1.2 innings of no-hit ball.
“It goes back to our preparation and just coming in and doing our breathing technique and not worrying about the situation and just going pitch by pitch,” said Solomon. “Coach Aoki has prepared us really well for that. So coming up in a big situation you just have to take it one breath at a time, one pitch at a time and try to win the pitch.”
With the score tied at six, the Irish received some help from the Tiger defense (two errors), as Richards recorded an RBI single and Youngdahl scored on a throwing error.
In the ninth, Bull, Youngdahl and Ryan Lidge recorded RBI to give Notre Dame a commanding lead.
Five different Irish players recorded two or more hits, with Youngdahl and Zutsulis totaling three each.
The Irish improved to 8-0 when they score in the first inning and to 10-0 when they out-hit the opponent.
Johnson (17 games) and Bull (11 games) extended their respective on-base streaks.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director