Feb. 28, 2016

Box Score

Notre Dame 7, Gonzaga 6 Get Acrobat Reader

By Russell Dorn

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – For the second time in three days the University of Notre Dame baseball team walked off an opponent, as the Irish received a timely single from senior Ricky Sanchez to give his squad a wild, 7-6 victory over Gonzaga Sunday afternoon at Nelson Wolff Stadium to close out the 2016 Alamo Irish Classic.

With the win, and a subsequent Bradley loss to Texas Southern, Notre Dame clinched the tournament championship for the second season in a row. After suffering a close, 4-3 loss to Bradley to open the weekend, the Irish came back strong with a walk-off, 6-5 win over Texas Southern and a 13-2 victory over Incarnate Word before the win over the Bulldogs.

Tied at six entering the bottom of the ninth inning, Notre Dame came out on fire with a single by senior Kyle Richardson and a double by sophomore Jake Johnson. After junior Cavan Biggio was issued an intentional walk to load the bases for Sanchez, the Miami native worked the count to 3-2 before cracking a single up the middle to give the Irish the walk-off win.

(Notre Dame won the Alamo Irish Classic with a walk-off win Sunday afternoon.)

(Notre Dame won the Alamo Irish Classic with a walk-off win Sunday afternoon.)

For Sanchez, the hit finished off an outstanding weekend for the sometimes outfielder, sometimes catcher. The starting catcher the last five games in place of an injured Ryan Lidge, Sanchez hit .412 with seven hits, three RBI, a walk and five runs scored during the four games in San Antonio.

“Ryan (day-to-day w/ leg injury) getting injured was tough because he’s such a good defensive catcher and a big bat in our lineup,” said Sanchez. “So I knew I had to step up. I haven’t caught that many innings in such a short period of time in years. I was just trying to take it one inning at a time. I knew that’s what my team needed me to do so I tried to do it to the best of my ability.”

Trailing 4-0 just four innings into the game after Gonzaga put up three runs in the third inning and one in the fourth, the Irish quickly rebounded with six runs between the fourth and fifth frames.

Zak Kutsulis (.533, 8 H, 2 2B, 3 RBI, BB, 4 R), Matt Vierling (.467, 7 H, 1 2B, 8 RBI, 2 BB, 2 R) and Connor Stutts (3 H, 1 3B, HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 2 R) all totaled RBI in the fourth inning to cap off big weekends.

An inning later, Kyle Fiala drove home one run and Vierling singled up the middle to score two more to put the Irish in front 6-4.

Gonzaga tied the game at six over the seventh and eighth innings to set the stage for the ninth-inning drama.

Irish reliever Scott Tully (1-0) picked up the win after allowing only the solo homer over two innings of work.

Kutsulis went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored to lead the Irish at the plate. The three-hit effort was the second in a row for the Homer Glen, Illinois product. Vierling connected on two more hits for three RBI and Sanchez added two hits, an RBI and two runs scored. Richardson tallied a pair of hits and a run, Biggio posted three walks and Fiala had a hit, RBI and two runs scored.

Notre Dame (4-3) hits the road again next weekend for the annual USA Baseball-Irish Classic at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. The Irish will play Alabama (5:05 p.m. ET Friday), Brown (11:35 a.m. ET Saturday), Bucknell (3:05 p.m. ET Saturday) and Niagara (11:05 a.m. ET Sunday). Fans can follow the action through WatchND’s free audio broadcast in addition to live stats.

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.