Feb. 20, 2015
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Behind six strong innings from senior RHP Scott Kerrigan and a three-hit, two-RBI performance from sophomore second baseman Cavan Biggio, the University of Notre Dame baseball team improved to 5-1 on the year, including 2-0 at the Irish Alamo Invitational, with an 8-1 victory over former BIG EAST foe Villanova Friday afternoon.
A pitchers’ affair for much of the game, the Irish bats finally busted out in the sixth inning for three runs to up Notre Dame’s lead to 5-0. The Irish loaded the bases with two outs to force a Wildcat pitching change. Facing Villanova’s Trevino Rodriguez, junior Lane Richards looked at one pitch and then sent the next one to center field to plate two runs. A couple of batters later, freshman Jake Johnson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to score sophomore Ryan Lidge and make the score 5-0.
That would be more than enough for Kerrigan (1-1), who looked in control for much of the night, and also showed the ability to get off the mound and make some defensive plays. The Saugus, California native went 6.1 innings, scattered seven hits and a walk in allowing no runs while striking out five. He induced 12 groundouts and had one easy lineout to show significant improvement from his first outing of the year at Oklahoma.
“I was doing a lot better today keeping the ball down, getting ahead in the count and forcing bad contact,” said Kerrigan. “I’m not really much of a strikeout pitcher, I like to get ground balls, get popups and get my defense working for me. That’s when I’m most successful.”
Besides the one lineout to Kerrigan, every other Villanova out came by way of a groundout or strikeout.
Offering relief of Kerrigan were freshmen Sean Guenther and Peter Solomon. Guenther entered with runners on second and third and only one out. The Atlanta native quickly struck out a batter swinging and induced a groundout to get out of the jam. Guenther finished with 1.1 innings of work, allowing a run on two hits. He also struck out a pair of batters. Solomon entered in the eighth and went 1.1 innings and scattered two hits and a walk while striking out two Wilcat batters.
At the plate, the Irish continued to show the ability to be an incredibly tough out, as they induced two walks and were hit by four pitches, to up their total this week to 12 walks and 10 hit by pitch. They also tallied eight hits against five Wildcat pitchers.
For the season, the Irish have 32 walks, 15 hit by pitch and six sac flies.
Johnson continued his impressive start to the season, as he upped his on-base percentage to .536 with two hit by pitch and a walk. He also tallied an RBI and a run scored.
Kutsulis improved upon his strong weekend with two more hits and two more runs scored, while Lidge had a hit, a hit by pitch and two runs scored. Richards finished with two hits, two RBI and a run scored, while Hudgins totaled a walk, a hit by pitch, an RBI and a run scored.
However, the unofficial MVP award at the plate for the Irish has to go to Biggio, who improved his season splits to .520/.840/.600 with three hits, two RBI and a run scored.
“I think summer ball in the Cape (Cape Cod League) really helped me a lot,” said Biggio. “You are seeing every school’s best pitcher every day. I’m seeing the ball really well right now and I’m slowing the game down. I think that’s the biggest thing for me.”
He got the Notre Dame offense going in the third inning, with a huge two-RBI double to the deepest part of right field to give the Irish an early 2-0 lead. Stepping to the plate with runners on second and third, the Houston native was down 0-2 in the count before coming through with the monster two-RBI double.
“That at-bat, there were runners on second and third with less than two outs,” said Biggio. “I was looking to attack the ball. I went down 0-2 and I was just trying to drive the ball, get a fly ball and get a guy in for a sac fly, but he hung a curveball and I was able to hit it pretty far and get a couple of runners in.”
Notre Dame (5-1) gets back to action at the Irish Alamo Invitational at 2:05 p.m. ET (1:05 p.m. CT) Saturday, when it battles the Northwestern Wildcats. Fans can follow the action through WatchND’s audio broadcast (WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend) or UND.com’s live stats.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director