April 2, 2017
By Neil Joseph
NOTRE DAME, Indiana — The Notre Dame baseball team fell, 9-2, to NC State on Sunday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium, dropping the final game but winning the weekend series with the Wolfpack. The excellent starting pitching from the previous game continued, as the starters yielded only three combined runs.
Brad Bass pitched a solid seven innings starting for the Irish. He yielded two runs on six hits, giving up no extra-base hits and striking out seven. He was locked in a pitchers’ duel with winning pitcher Michael Bienlein, who let up only one run on five hits in 7-plus innings.
Ryan Lidge and Kyle Fiala provided the Irish with a boost at the plate, as they both had two hits. Daniel Jung recorded both RBI for Notre Dame with a pair of sacrifice flies, while Jake Johnson added a double and a run scored.
Bass worked around a bases-loaded jam to start the game. NC State leadoff hitter Stephen Pitarra drew a walk, advancing to second on a well-placed base-hit bunt by Josh McLain. Wolfpack third baseman Evan Mendoza then also walked to load the bases for shortstop Joe Dunand. The Irish managed to escape, though, as a beautiful off-speed pitch by Bass sat Dunand down swinging.
The Wolfpack started the scoring in the top of the third. Second baseman Will Wilson hit a single up the middle, moving over to second on a Bass wild pitch. A two-out single to left field by NC State designated hitter Brad Debo brought Wilson in just ahead of the throw to home, giving the Wolfpack their first lead of the weekend.
NC State added another run in the fifth. A Brock Deatherage walk was followed by a Pitarra single, moving him over to third base. Bass managed to induce a double-play ball from Wilson, but Deatherage scored on the play, giving the Wolfpack a 2-0 lead heading into the middle of the fifth inning.
The Irish started the bottom of the seventh inning with a double down the left-field line from Fiala. After moving to third on a ground ball by Matt Vierling, Fiala scored on a Jung sacrifice fly to cut the Wolfpack lead in half.
Josh McLain and Debo singled to start the eighth, giving the Wolfpack two baserunners to begin the inning. After Irish relief pitcher Sean Guenther forced a ground ball out, Dunand drove in McLain with a sacrifice fly to center field. Guenther followed by stranding Debo on second to keep the Irish within striking range for the bottom of the eight.
The Irish started the bottom of the eighth strong, but Wolfpack relief pitcher Joe O’Donnell worked out of the jam to hold Notre Dame at bay. With the Irish needing some baserunners, Lidge singled and Cole Daily walked to force Bienlein from the game. O’Donnell then struck out both Jake Shepski and Nick Podkul, with catcher Andy Cosgrove throwing Lidge out at third base to end the inning before the Irish could score a run.
NC State’s bats exploded in the ninth, as an Andy Cosgrove double was followed by a Brock Deatherage RBI single to start the scoring in the inning. Stephen Pitarra then moved Deatherage to second with a sacrifice bunt, and Will Wilson drove him in with a double off the left field wall. Wilson was then driven in by a Brad Debo single, and NC State shortstop Joe Dunand cleared the bases with a three-run home run to pad the Wolfpack lead.
The Irish, winners in three of the last four, head to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for a nonconference showdown with No. 22 Michigan on Tuesday night. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. and the game can be heard live on WatchND and 103.1 FM in South Bend. The game can also be seen on BTN Plus.
— ND —
Neil Joseph is a student worker for Fighting Irish Media.