April 13, 2016
By Russell Dorn
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Only 13 months removed from Tommy John surgery, University of Notre Dame senior left-handed pitcher Michael Hearne turned in one of the best performances of his career in a dominating 3-1 victory over Valparaiso Wednesday night at Frank Eck Stadium.
Hearne (4-0) was outstanding from beginning to end, as he allowed only one base runner to get past first base in the game. The Crusaders had singles in the first, second and seventh innings before recording a double to leadoff the ninth frame. A pair of groundouts broke up the shutout, but Hearne quickly registered a pop up to finish off the complete game.
“Mike was incredible, especially considering how few pitches he threw,” said head coach Mik Aoki. “He was really, really good. He commanded the fastball. On a night where I didn’t think we were as good offensively as we have been, he really came up huge for us.”
The Palos Heights, Illinois native produced five 1-2-3 innings and retired 13 consecutive batters between the second and seventh innings. Hearne also had six innings with pitch counts of nine or less, including five innings with seven or less.
For the game he allowed one run, four hits and no walks while striking out five batters on 91 pitches.
It was the second complete game of his career. He shutdown Boston College in 2014, going nine innings and scattering seven hits in a 7-0 win.
“My fastball command was there tonight,” said Hearne about what was working Wednesday. “That usually sets me up well. I was hitting both sides of the corner. The changeup started working and then the fastball on both sides of the plate was as well.
“Before I fell into that grove after the first and second innings, my defense was really picking me up. Cavan (Biggio) had a nice play. Shep (Jake Shepski) made a good play in the outfield.”
The Irish are now 7-0 this season when Hearne takes the bump to start the game.
“It’s honestly no different than any other starter. We are all going out there trying to be the best pitcher we can be, make quality pitches and try to keep our team in the game.”
While Hearne was dealing on the mound, the Irish offense needed just one inning to claim victory. After two scoreless frames, junior Kyle Fiala and senior Kyle Richardson recorded back-to-back singles to give Notre Dame runners at first and second. Up stepped junior Cavan Biggio who came through in a big way with a bases-clearing triple to give his squad a 2-0 lead.
Freshman Nick Podkul followed up with a sacrifice fly to score Biggio and give Notre Dame the 3-0 advantage.
Richardson finished the game with two hits and a run scored while Biggio had the RBI triple, run scored and walk. Podkul tallied a single and sac fly.
Because of the solid pitching on both sides, the game finished in just 1:59, which was the shortest Irish baseball game since a 1:56 contest versus Pittsburgh March 24, 2012 (3-2 ND win).
The Irish (18-12, 6-7 ACC) welcome in Boston College for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series this weekend. Saturday’s (3:05 p.m. ET) contest will be the annual ALS Game, with all proceeds going to the Pete Frates #3 Fund. Admission is free for the entire weekend. All three games will be available through ESPN3, WatchND’s free audio broadcast or live stats. Links for all three are on the schedule page at UND.com/NDBaseball.
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.