April 3, 2016
Box Score – Game 1 – Wake Forest 15, Notre Dame 13
Box Score – Game 2 – Notre Dame 10, Wake Forest 2 (6 Innings)
By Russell Dorn
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A wild and wacky day at Frank Eck Stadium that featured 40 runs, 46 hits, eight errors and 15 innings of action over two games went the way of the Irish, as the University of Notre Dame baseball team split with Wake Forest to claim its second consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference series victory.
The Demon Deacons won a high-scoring game one, 15-13, before the Irish bounced back in game two to claim a 10-2 victory in six innings. The second game was halted early due to a travel curfew for the visiting Demon Deacons.
Plenty of Irish players starred in the Sunday split. Senior Ricky Sanchez had five hits (2B, 3B), RBI and two runs scored. Freshmen Matt Vierling (4-9, RBI, BB, 4 R), Cole Daily (4-9, 3 2B, 2 RBI, R) and Nick Podkul (3 H, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 3 R) all turned in monster games and junior Cavan Biggio had a hit, five walks and four runs scored to increase his on-base percentage to .527.
Notre Dame has now won seven of its last eight games to move four games above .500 overall (15-11) and to .500 in ACC play (6-6). The Irish are alone in fourth place in the Atlantic Division and are tied for fifth place in the league with North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Virginia.
The Irish will play five games this week at Frank Eck Stadium. They welcome in No. 20 Michigan Tuesday, Valparaiso Wednesday and No. 2 Miami next weekend. More information on all five games will be available early in the week.
GAME 1: Wake Forest 15, Notre Dame 13
Both offenses certainly came to play in game one, as the two teams combined for 28 runs and 30 hits in a wild 15-13 Wake Forest win.
The 28 combined runs were the most in a Notre Dame game since the Irish lost at West Virginia 22-6 on May 8, 2010.
Wake Forest took what appeared to be a commanding 15-7 lead into the bottom of the ninth on the strength of a seven-run top of the frame. Notre Dame used five pitchers to get through the ninth frame.
The “Cardiac Irish” wouldn’t go away, however, as they recorded six runs in the bottom half of the ninth and forced Wake to use four pitchers. Senior Lane Richards had a big triple to start the scoring. Later in the inning Sanchez posted an RBI single, Zak Kutsulis added a two-RBI double and Vierling had an RBI single. The Irish batted around in the frame and were helped by two critical Wake Forest errors.
“I think with every run you get a little more excited,” said head coach Mik Aoki of the near comeback. “To a certain extent you’re playing with house money there. What was important about that inning was we made them go to a couple of their guys in the bullpen to try and close out the game. It showed a little resiliency and maybe it carried over into the next game.”
Notre Dame’s comeback attempt ended with the winning run at the plate when Demon Deacon reliever Donnie Sellers closed the door with a fielder’s choice to pick up the save.
The Irish defense let down starter Sean Guenther early in the game as they finished with a season-high four errors. Guenther went 5.2 innings and allowed eight runs (5 ER), eight hits and two walks while striking out five batters.
Wake Forest used eight pitchers in the game and Notre Dame used six.
Demon Deacon star Will Craig went 5-for-6 with four RBI and a run scored in the game.
For Notre Dame, Kutsulis had three RBI, Vierling recorded three hits, Richards had two hits, three RBI and three runs scored, Sanchez totaled three hits, Podkul posted two hits and two RBI and Daily tallied two doubles.
GAME 2: Notre Dame 10, Wake Forest 2 (6 Innings)
The Irish moved past game one to turn in a dominant game two performance to beat Wake Forest, 10-2, in six innings. A travel curfew for Wake Forest caused the game to end early.
Sophomore RHP Peter Solomon (2-2) went the distance while striking out eight batters. The eight K’s were the most by a Notre Dame pitcher this season. He allowed two runs, five hits and three walks over the six innings.
“I thought Pete was outstanding,” said Aoki. “He commanded his fastball, his slider and his curveball went back and forth. I thought he was really in command the whole game and did a really nice job.”
Notre Dame jumped all over Wake Forest pitching early in the game, with three runs over the first three innings.
Two Demon Deacon errors in the first frame allowed the Irish to take the early 2-0 lead. Kutsulis then recorded an RBI fielder’s choice in the second to move the score to 3-0.
The Irish piled on later in the game with two runs in the fourth, two in the fifth and three in the sixth. Highlighting the later innings were two big at-bats by catcher Ryan Lidge, who is starting to get back into the thick of things after missing over half the season with a leg injury. He posted two hits and three RBI over the final three innings.
Wake Forest used four pitchers in the game, walked seven batters and allowed 11 hits.
Lidge led the Irish with two hits and three RBI while Sanchez and Daily both turned in two-hit days.
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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.