May 15, 2015
Box Score – Game 1
Box Score– Game 2
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The University of Notre Dame baseball team split a doubleheader with the Boston College Eagles Friday at Shea Field to wrap up the 2015 regular season and claim its sixth Atlantic Coast Conference series win of the year. The Irish won game one, 5-2, before dropping game two, 6-5, in 10 innings.
With the series win, the Irish improved to 35-19 overall and 17-13 in ACC play to clinch at least a top-four seed at next week’s ACC Tournament in Durham, North Carolina. Final seeding depends on the outcome of the Clemson-Florida State series this weekend.
The 35 wins are the most for the Irish since the 2009 team won 36. Before that, the 2006 squad posted 45 victories. In addition, head coach Mik Aoki has now hit a personal milestone for victories in a season. The 35 wins are the most in his 14-year head coaching career. He had previously won 34 games in 2013 with the Irish and 34 in 2009 at Boston College.
With another series win, Notre Dame also added to its NCAA Tournament resume that features sweeps of then-No. 7 Florida State and then-No. 20 North Carolina, weekend sweeps at the Irish Alamo Invitational and Mercer Baseball Classic and series wins at Clemson and at Frank Eck Stadium versus NC State. The Irish also swept Pittsburgh on the road.
In game one Friday, sophomore pitcher Ryan Smoyer allowed just one unearned run over seven innings to improve to 8-0 on the year. At the plate, the Irish had a big, four-run eighth inning to pull away from the Eagles.
Game two saw Notre Dame carry a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, but two hits and a big Irish error allowed the Eagles to send the game to extras. In the 10th frame, BC (26-27, 9-19 ACC) earned a walk-off win to end its season on the strength of a walk, passed ball, sac bunt and single.
“The players played hard this weekend. We talked a lot about the process of enjoying being able to play meaningful games at the end of the year,” said Aoki. “We would have liked to have sealed that thing by winning six straight, but it is what it is. We contributed a little bit to it on our own, but BC still needed to make a couple of swings and a couple of plays so you have to tip your hat to them. Now we look forward to the postseason and getting down there to Durham and seeing what we can do.
“We are excited for the opportunity. This is something we haven’t talked about a ton because we wanted to make sure we were involved in the process of it all. But now we have a couple of days to take count of everything we have accomplished. This is a big deal. We are excited to get down there and see who our opponents are and be able to go out there and try to stay together as a group and continue to compete.”
Seeding for the conference tournament will be announced Saturday evening, with the full schedule of games to follow Sunday morning.
GAME 1: Notre Dame 5, Boston College 2
Tied at one apiece entering the eighth inning, the Irish plated four runs in the top half of the frame to pull away for a 5-2 victory over the Eagles in game one and clinch the three-game series.
All four of Notre Dame’s runs in the eighth inning came with two outs off Eagle pitcher Justin Dunn. Junior Lane Richards, junior Zak Kutsulis and freshman Jake Shepski notched back-to-back-to-back singles to left field to plate the four runs.
Dunn (4-4), who had a perfect seventh inning, suffered the loss after giving up four runs and six hits (four strikeouts) in three innings of work. Dunn entered in the seventh after six outstanding innings from senior starter John Gorman, who allowed just one run, five hits and three walks while striking out six batters to earn the no-decision in his final collegiate outing.
With the Irish taking the lead, freshman LHP Sean Guenther entered for the ninth frame and allowed just one hit to pick up his team-high fifth save of the season.
BC scored the first run of the game in the third inning when the Irish totaled two errors on one play to allow third baseman Jake Palomaki to score from second base.
Five runs was more than enough for Smoyer, who turned in seven strong innings to improve to 8-0. He allowed one run (unearned) and scattered seven hits to become just the third Irish pitcher to start a year 8-0 since 1998. The others were former Major Leaguer Aaron Heilman and current Major Leaguer John Axford.
Four different Notre Dame players tallied two hits on the day, as Fiala (2-4, 1 BB, 2 R), Ryan Bull (2-4), Lidge (2-5, 1 RBI, 1 R) and Kutsulis (2-4, 2 RBI, 1 R) all gave the Eagle pitchers trouble in the game. Richards had a hit, RBI, walk and run scored.
GAME 2: Boston College 6, Notre Dame 5 (10 Innings)
The Irish carried a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Eagles wouldn’t go away, as they plated two runs in the frame to send the game to extras. In the 10th, Nick Colucci hit a sharp single to left field to score the game-winning run and give the Eagles something to smile about with their season coming to a close.
Up 5-3 in the ninth, the Irish brought in Guenther to try and pick up his second save of the day. With two outs and a runner on first, a chopper to shortstop Phil Mosey looked like it could seal the game for Notre Dame. However, it skipped away from the senior from Fishers, Indiana and gave the Eagles runners at first and second with two outs. Standout Chris Shaw followed with a single to load the bases, and a single by Donovan Casey tied the game at five and sent it to extras.
In the 10th, Johnny Adams induced a leadoff walk and advanced around the bases on a passed ball and a sac bunt before the Colucci single gave Boston College the win.
Before the ninth, the Irish appeared to have things wrapped up, as they scored two runs in the sixth on a Robert Youngdahl two-run homer and another run in the seventh on a Lidge sac fly to take the two-run lead.
A nip-and-tuck game throughout, the two squads traded run for run. Junior Ricky Sanchez hit his first career homer to lead off the second, before Fiala smacked a leadoff homer to open up the third. BC matched with a pair of sac flies to get the game tied at two until the sixth inning.
RHP Nick McCarty started the game for Notre Dame and went three innings, allowing two runs, four hits and a walk. Relievers Evy Ruibal (2.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 SO) and Connor Hale (2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO) each gave the Irish strong showings before Guenther (1.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO) closed out the final 1.2 innings.
Fiala had another monster game (4-for-5, 1 RBI, 1 R) to extend his impressive on-base streak to 43 games. The Carmel, Indiana product went 8-for-14 this weekend with a homer, two RBI and four runs scored.
“He’s been really steady and has been on a pretty good offensive uptick here for the last few weeks,” said Aoki. “He has been such a stalwart in the lineup. He competes like crazy. He gets to two strikes and he makes pitchers make more pitches. I’m just happy for him. He’s a hard-working player and I like to see the results he has been getting. He is turning himself into a really special player.”
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director