March 29, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — A back-and-forth series finale saw the visiting Virginia Cavaliers score one more run than the University of Notre Dame baseball team, as the No. 12 Cavaliers completed the Atlantic Coast Conference series sweep with a 5-4 victory over the Irish on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium.
Trailing 5-2 entering the eighth inning, the Irish came up just short in their comeback attempt despite plating two runs over the final two frames.
In the eighth, the Irish capitalized on a Virginia error to get runners at the corners with two outs. Freshman Jake Shepski stepped to the plate and came through in a big way, as he cracked the first hit of his career to score junior Zak Kutsulis from third and cut the Cavalier lead to 5-3.
An inning later, junior Lane Richards trimmed the lead to one, as he absolutely smoked the first pitch of the inning off the Jake Kline Field sign in left field for his first career homer. However, closer Josh Sborz picked up his seventh save of the year by striking out the heart of the Notre Dame order to complete the Virginia sweep.
While the Irish managed to score more runs than they did in Saturday’s doubleheader combined, they also left 10 runners on base for the game, including many in key situations. Notre Dame had first and second with two outs in the first inning, a runner on second with one out in the fifth, runners on second and third with no outs in the sixth, bases loaded with two outs later in the sixth and a runner on third with two outs in the eighth.
Louisville starter Brandon Waddell (2-1) earned the win after going 5.1 innings and allowing two runs, five hits and two walks while striking out three.
Irish starter Nick McCarty (3-3) suffered the loss after allowing five runs (4 ER), nine hits and three walks over 6.1 innings of work. Freshmen Evy Ruibal (1.1 IP, 1 BB, 2 SO) and Sean Guenther (1.1 IP, 2 H) closed out the game.
Three Notre Dame student-athletes notched multi-hit days, as third baseman Kyle Fiala tallied two hits and a run scored, Richards finished with two hits, a homer, two RBI and a run scored and Kutsulis closed out his solid weekend at the plate with two hits, an RBI, a walk and a run scored. Shepski finished with an RBI single and a walk.
For Virginia, centerfielder Adam Haseley had another monster game with three hits, an RBI and a walk, while leftfielder Pavin Smith recorded three hits, an RBI, walk and run scored.
Notre Dame scored its other two runs on a Kutsulis single in the fourth and a Richards double in the fifth.
The Irish (16-10, 3-9 ACC) have played a brutal league schedule to date with road series at traditional powers Georgia Tech and Clemson and home series with No. 8 Louisville and No. 12 Virginia. After suffering sweeps to the Cardinals and the Cavaliers, Notre Dame looks to get back to its early-season winning ways with a 6:05 p.m. (ET) Tuesday midweek game against Eastern Michigan. The Irish will then hit the road for a three-game series at former BIG EAST foe and current ACC opponent Pitt over Easter weekend.
“We still have everything still in front of us,” said head coach Mik Aoki on his comments to the team after back-to-back series sweeps. “We have six series in front of us, three home and three away. I feel like every single one of those series is one we are capable of winning and that we have the ability to win. If we do go out there and win six straight series or exchange a sweep for a lost series or something like that, that gets us back to .500 in this league and honestly in this league if you are .500, you might have a chance to host a regional.
“We just have to keep doing what we are doing. There are some guys that are scuffling and we have to get them going. In some cases they need to get out of their own head a little bit because I think they are pressing. Once we get ourselves back on track and start worrying about ourselves and not pressing we will be fine.”
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director