CLINTON, South Carolina — The University of Notre Dame baseball team faced a 3-2 deficit in the seventh inning Friday afternoon against Presbyterian until a Niko Kavadas three-run homer changed the tide for the Irish. It ignited a five-run inning that lifted the Irish (5-2) to a 13-5 win over the Blue Hose (2-7) in the first game of a three-game series.
A single from Carter Putz and a full-count walk from Brooks Coetzee set up the situation for Kavadas in the seventh. After looking at two straight balls, Kavadas drove a fastball the other way to left field. On a cold, windy day in Clinton, SC, the ball continued to carry over the wall for his second home run of the season.
Kavadas added to his home run total in the top of the ninth with a two-run shot to left field for his first career multi-home run game. The junior from Granger, Indiana finished the day with a career-high five RBI. Notre Dame ended up scoring 11 of its season-high 13 runs in the final three innings to clinch the win.
How It Happened
After three scoreless innings for both sides, the Irish opened the game up in the fourth inning. Coetzee got on base to lead the inning off after his bunt forced an errant throw and he advanced to second. Zack Prajzner drove him home after a single got through the left side. Notre Dame added one more run in the inning when Prajzner scored on a sac fly from Jack Alexander.
The Blue Hose threatened to cut into the lead in the bottom half of the fourth after an error extended the inning. With runners on the corners, Sheehan notched his fourth strikeout of the afternoon to end the inning and the threat.
Presbyterian took the lead in the bottom of the fifth after scoring three runs in the inning, all with two outs.
The Irish responded with a big inning in the seventh to retake the lead. Niko Kavadas stepped to the plate and took a 2-0 pitch the other way over the wall in left for a three-run homer to regain the lead for the Irish. The inning continued for the Irish with singles from Prajzner and Jack Brannigan. Alexander dropped a single into right center that brought both runners around to score. Once the inning ended, the Irish brought five runners home to take a 7-3 lead.
Notre Dame broke the game open in the final two innings, scoring four runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. Alexander drove in two more runs in the eighth and Kavadas hit his second home run of the game in the ninth. Alexander joined Kavadas with a career-high five RBI.
- Niko Kavadas tallied his first career multi-home run game and set a career high with five RBI.
- It was the first Irish multi-home run game since Eric Gilgenbach hit two against Ball State on March 2, 2019.
- Sophomore Jack Alexander set a career high with five RBI and tied a career high with three hits.
- Zack Prajzner set career highs with three runs and three hits against the Blue Hose.
- Notre Dame scored a season-high 13 runs against Presbyterian, the most runs since the Irish scored 19 against Northwestern on May 15, 2018.
- The Irish tallied 13 hits in the win, the fourth game this season with double digit hits.
- Tommy Sheehan tossed 6.1 innings to improve to 3-0 to start the season. It is his third straight start with six or more innings pitched.
- Jack Brannigan set career highs with two runs and two hits in the win.
- Liam Simon pitched the final two innings for the Irish, the longest outing of his freshman campaign to date.
The Irish will head back to the PC Baseball Complex on Saturday afternoon for game two of the three game series. First pitch from Clinton is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET and Alex Rao is scheduled to take the mound for the Irish.