May 23, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The No. 20 University of Notre Dame baseball team plated two runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 5-4 lead over No. 6 Miami but couldn’t hang on for the win, as the Hurricanes won on a walk-off single by Brandon Lopez to claim a 6-5 decision in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament finale for both teams Saturday afternoon at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Down to its last strike in the top of the ninth, trailing 4-3 and facing off against Hurricane closer Bryan Garcia, the Irish saw senior Ryan Bull tally an RBI double that scored pinch runner Conor Biggio and fellow senior Robert Youngdahl follow with an RBI single that plated pinch runner Torii Hunter Jr. to surge in front of the Hurricanes (No. 1 in RPI), 5-4, heading to the bottom half of the ninth inning.Â Â
Standout freshman pitcher Brad Bass (3-1) trotted back out to the mound for his second inning of work in the ninth looking to improve to 4-0 on the year. However, it wasn’t meant to be, as first baseman Christopher Barr cracked the first homer of his career on a 3-2 pitch to lead off the inning and tie the game at five. After a groundout, walk and hit by pitch, the Irish turned to sophomore lefty Scott Tully to try and get his squad to extra innings. A single by Garrett Kennedy loaded the bases before Lopez’s single to right center field gave the Hurricanes the thrilling, walk-off win.
A back-and-forth game from the beginning, the two squads answered each other run for run. Notre Dame struck first in the second frame on a Hurricane throwing error and later followed it up with a sac fly from freshman Jake Shepski. Miami answered an inning later with two sac flies to tie the game at two.
Both teams scored a run in the fifth before the Hurricanes finally took their first lead in the seventh inning on a single from DH Zach Collins.
Each team left double-digit runners on base, combining to strand 22 runners for the game. Particularly costly innings for Notre Dame included stranding runners on second and third in the fourth and fifth frames and leaving a runner on third in the seventh.
The Irish threw five pitchers on the day, while Miami tossed six. Normally the closer, Notre Dame freshman Sean Guenther (3.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 1 SO) earned the first start of his career before being relieved by fellow freshman Evy Ruibal (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO), junior Connor Hale (1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 SO), Bass (1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 SO) and Tully (0.0 IP, 2 H).
Pacing the Irish at the plate were Richards (3-5, 1 R), Youngdahl (2-4, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 R), Bull (2B, 1 RBI) and sophomore Kyle Fiala (3 BB, 1 R), who extended his ACC-leading on-base streak to 46 games.Â
Notre Dame (36-21) finishes pool play with a 1-2 record and will wait until Monday afternoon (12 p.m. ET on ESPNU) to see if it has done enough to earn a spot at its first NCAA Regional since 2006. The Irish have an impressive resume that features an RPI of 35, a 21-10 record away from Frank Eck Stadium, a 7-7 mark against teams with a top-25 RPI, plus series sweeps of No. 10 Florida State and No. 24 North Carolina and series wins at No. 56 Clemson, at Oklahoma and versus No. 26 NC State. The Irish also picked up victories against No. 21 Virginia and No. 37 Georgia Tech during the course of the year. Notre Dame placed third during the regular season in one of the top conferences in the country and went 14-4 to start the year with all 18 games coming away from Notre Dame, Indiana.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director