April 2, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In his first start of the 2013 season, University of Notre Dame sophomore RHP Matt Ternowchek allowed only two runs in 6.0 innings, while the 20th-ranked Fighting Irish offense spotted him three runs in the first en route to a 6-2 victory over the University of Illinois-Chicago. Notre Dame (16-9) snapped its season-high three-game losing streak to defeat the Flames (13-12) in its opening game at Frank Eck Stadium.
“Louisville’s a good team, but we didn’t play particularly great last weekend,” Ternowcheck said. “It’s nice to get out here in our element and get that first win at home.”
Ternowchek (4-0) did not allow a hit until two batters were out in the fifth inning and retired 15 of 16 hitters between the first and sixth frames. His 6.0 innings pitched marked a career-high, and he pounded the strike zone throughout the contest (55 of his 78 pitches went for strikes). Ternowchek struck out three batters while walking none and induced nine ground ball outs.
UIC starter Brian Evak (1-1) also tossed 6.0 innings, but allowed five earned runs on nine hits and 12 base runners.
“The biggest thing you can do for the whole team and their mentality is keep the pace of the game going,” Ternowchek said. “You have to get ahead of hitters and throw strikes, which I felt I did pretty well today.”
On a chilly 41-degree day, Ternowchek’s job was made easier by timely Irish hitting that was lacking during their sweep at top-10 ranked Louisville this past weekend. After totaling just four hits with runners in scoring position in the series, Notre Dame went 5-for-10 against the Flames in those situations.
Clean-up hitter and junior 1B Trey Mancini led the Irish by going 4-for-4 with two RBI for his third-career four-hit game. The two RBI gave Mancini 100 for his career. Sophomore DH Blaise Leyznski finished 2-for-3 with two RBI despite entering the contest with just 13 at-bats on the year.
The Irish started the scoring in the first inning via back-to-back RBI singles by Mancini and sophomore LF Ryan Bull. Lezynski then launched a line drive double off the right field wall to score Mancini that increased the Notre Dame lead to 3-0.
Then, in the third inning, Leyzynski lined an RBI single to right to score freshman RF Zak Kutsulis, which gave the Irish a 4-0 advantage.
The Irish scored again in the fourth inning without the benefit of a hit. Freshman CF Kyle Richardson walked, stole second, advanced to third junior C Forrest Johnson’s sacrifice bunt, and ultimately scored on senior 2B Frank Desico’s sacrifice fly.
With the Irish holding a 5-0 in the sixth inning, the Flames finally tagged Ternowchek for a couple runs. Ryan Shober skipped an RBI double down the left field line, and Tyler Detmer lined an RBI double to the gap in left-center field to cut the deficit to 5-2. However, Ternowchek recovered to fan cleanup hitter Alex Grunenwald for his last batter of the game.
Junior RHP Donnie Hissa then allowed just one base runner over the course of 3.0 shutout innings to record his first career save.
The Irish added an insurance run in the seventh inning as Kutsulis scored from second on a Mancini RBI single to make the score 6-2 in favor of Notre Dame.
Kutsulis reached base on all four-plate appearances and scored three runs. He also displayed speed on the base paths by scoring from second and advancing from first to third on a single in the first.
Notre Dame returns to action at 5:35 p.m. Wednesday at Frank Eck Stadium against Valparaiso.
— ND —