May 9, 2015
Box Score– Game 2
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Entering a critical Atlantic Coast Conference series with losses in six of its last 10 games, the University of Notre Dame baseball team put the past behind them Saturday afternoon, as the Irish showed a lot of grit in sweeping a doubleheader against No. 20 North Carolina, 10-5 and 3-1, to move themselves one step closer to multiple postseason opportunities.
Trailing 5-1 in game one entering the seventh inning, the Irish plated seven runs over the next two frames — including five in the eighth — to run away with a 10-5 victory.
“There were two things that really stood out to me today,” said head coach Mik Aoki. “In game one it would have been really easy to run away and hide after that four-run inning that we gave up. But we didn’t. And then for Ryan (Smoyer) to come in on a 3-1 count and manage that inning by allowing just one run and then shut them down the rest of the way, I thought that it was a really good example of preserving and grinding. The guys controlled everything that they could control, chief among them their attitude.
“I loved the way we were loose but really focused coming into today’s games. We were having fun and we went out there and competed at a high level. I told those guys after game one how proud of them I was and it had nothing to do with whether we won or lost. I felt like we went out there and worried about the next pitch and prevented what just happened from affecting us. We went out there and competed and they put into action what we’ve talked about all year, so it was very gratifying.”
In the nightcap, sophomore RHP Ryan Smoyer improved to 7-0 on the year by pitching six scoreless innings in relief to power Notre Dame to a 3-1 win.
“For not throwing in almost two weeks, I felt good. I felt like all four pitches were useable,” said Smoyer. “I got a guy out with a curveball. The changeup was working well with the lefties and that hasn’t happened in a while so I was happy to see it being used more. I think I was able to execute all four pitches. They may not have all been great, but they got outs and that’s all that matters.”
With the doubleheader sweep the Irish improve to 32-18 overall and 14-12 in the ACC with four league games remaining. Notre Dame ends the night in third place in the Atlantic Division, but sits in fourth place overall in the ACC behind Louisville (22-4 ACC), Florida State (17-9 ACC) and Miami (19-8 ACC).
Plenty of offensive stars shown bright for the Irish in the doubleheader sweep. Sophomore Kyle Fiala upped his impressive on-base streak to 39 games and finished the day 4-for-7 with a double, triple, RBI, walk, hit by pitch, sac bunt and four runs scored, while fellow sophomore Cavan Biggio had four walks and three runs scored to up his ridiculous walks total on the year to 47. He now sports a .431 on-base percentage. Elsewhere, Lane Richards (3-9, 1 2B, 1 BB), Robert Youngdahl (3-9, 2 RBI), Mac Hudgins (1 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 HBP), Ryan Lidge (2 H, 3 RBI), Jake Shepski (HR, 3 BB, 2 R), Zak Kutsulis (2 H, 1 BB, 1 R) and Ryan Bull (HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 1 R) each had big moments for the Irish at the dish.
On the mound, relievers Scott Tully (4-4, 2.1 IP, 2 H, 4 SO) and Smoyer (6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 SO) had monster relief appearances to pick up the wins.
In the field, Notre Dame turned two more double plays to up its Division I-leading total to 64, which is the most for the program since 2008 (65) and the fourth most since 1978 when Notre Dame’s double play numbers for each year were first recorded.Â Â Â
The Irish now boast series wins over Oklahoma (road), Clemson (road), Pittsburgh (road), Florida State (home), NC State (home) and North Carolina (home) this season. Five of those victories are against ranked foes (FSU, UNC).
Before the game, seniors Conor Biggio, Bull, Kevin DeFilippis, Hudgins, Forrest Johnson, Scott Kerrigan, Blaise Lezynski, Phil Mosey, Kyle Rubbinaccio, Matt Ternowchek, Cristian Torres and Youngdahl and senior managers Ally Darragh and Andy Hof were honored in a ceremony on the field for their contributions to the program over the last four years.
Notre Dame and UNC close out their three-game series at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday. Fans can watch the game online through ESPN3 or check out the audio version at WatchND (WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend). Links for ESPN3 and WatchND are available on UND.com.
GAME 1: Notre Dame 10, North Carolina 5
Trailing 5-2 after a big Carolina sixth inning plated four runs and ran starter Scott Kerrigan (6.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO) from the game, the Irish scored eight runs over the next three innings to blow past the Tar Heels, 10-5, in game one of the doubleheader.
After Bull tied the game at five in the seventh with a two-run homer, the Irish batted around in the eighth and faced off against three Tar Heel pitchers. Fiala, Bull, Lidge and Youngdahl all tallied RBI in the inning, as the Notre Dame took advantage of three walks and a passed ball.
After putting up three runs on starter Zac Gallen (5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 4 SO), the Irish lit up relievers Trevor Kelley (1.2 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 SO) and Trent Thornton (0.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 0 SO) over the games final 2.1 innings.
Freshman Jake Shepski joined Bull in the homer column, as the Lockport, Illinois native recorded his first career home run in the sixth inning on a solo shot that left the park in a hurry and sailed over the right-field wall and signage.
Bull finished the game with a team season-high four RBI.
Tully picked up his fourth win of the year after allowing just two hits while striking out four batters over 2.1 scoreless innings.Â Â
GAME 2: Notre Dame 3, North Carolina 1
The Irish jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning on RBI from Lidge and Youngdahl and never looked back in a 3-1 win over the Tar Heels to complete the doubleheader sweep.
Notre Dame starter Brandon Bielak (3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 0 SO) lasted just three innings, but was picked up by Smoyer, as the tall righty from Bowling Green, Ohio turned in a masterful performance over the game’s final six frames.
Smoyer improved to 7-0 on the year by allowing just two hits in six scoreless innings. He also walked no batters.
Despite leaving 15 runners on base, the Irish never paid for that bloated stat, as the Tar Heels scored their lone run in the fourth inning but didn’t get a runner past first base after that frame.
Fiala went 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored to lead Notre Dame.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director