April 15, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Behind seven innings of shutout baseball from LHP Alex Wagner and three RBI from leadoff hitter AJ Montoya, Toledo stopped the University of Notre Dame baseball team’s eight-game winning streak with a 5-0 victory Wednesday night at Frank Eck Stadium.
Wagner (2-3), who entered the game with a 1-3 record and a 9.16 ERA, twirled a gem against the Irish, as he allowed four hits and three walks during seven shutout innings.
Notre Dame’s best chances came early in the game. In the opening frame, sophomore Kyle Fiala ended up on third base after a double and a ground out, but a fly out ended the scoring threat. Two innings later, freshman Jake Shepski cracked the first of his two doubles on the night before advancing to third on a wild pitch. However, a strikeout ended another key scoring opportunity.
“My message to them was that we are good enough to beat anyone in the country on any given day, but we can also be beaten by anyone in the country on any given day,” said head coach Mik Aoki. “You want to try to control the controllables and I’m not 100% sure we did that tonight. We possibly made a deposit into the regret bank and you surely don’t want to have a lot of those over the course of the season.
“We talk a lot about how it’s not the better team that wins, it’s the team that plays better that wins. Give Toledo every accolade. They outplayed us in every way, shape and form. With two strikes they flat out out-competed us. That’s something that hasn’t really happened to us all year long, so we will take a lesson from this that we have to make sure that we come out and not have any shadow of a doubt what type of energy or engagement we brought to the game. If we do that, it will be a lesson learned and we will have gotten better from this loss.”
From there, Wagner limited Notre Dame to two hits until being relieved by Kevin Kline. Kline went the final two innings and allowed just one hit while striking out two to earn his first save of the season.
Toledo (13-23) racked up 13 hits and five runs during the game, with 10 coming off Irish starter Scott Tully (3-2). Tully, who hurled six scoreless innings to open the game, ran into trouble in the seventh, as the Rockets plated three runs on the strength of six singles. The Reading, Massachusetts native allowed three runs and 10 hits in seven innings of work. He didn’t walk a batter for the 10th time this season and also struck out a career-high seven batters.
Freshman reliever Evy Ruibal took over for Tully at the start of the eighth, and had a perfect eighth frame before allowing two more runs in the ninth to give Toledo a five-run lead. Ruibal finished the night with two runs allowed (1 ER) on three hits in two innings.
Montoya led the Rockets at the plate, going 3-for-5 with three RBI. Designated hitter Josh Cales went 3-for-4 with a run scored, while third baseman Nate Langhals was 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.
The Irish, who entered the night with an RPI of 19 and a No. 25 ranking in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Top 30, fell to 15-2 in non-conference action this season, including 5-1 in midweek contests.
Notre Dame (24-11, 9-9 ACC) continues its eight-game homestand this weekend, as the NC State Wolfpack (20-14, 8-9 ACC) come to The Eck for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series. The series opener is set for 6:05 p.m. (ET) Friday with a 2:05 p.m. (ET) Saturday game and a 1:05 p.m. (ET) Sunday contest wrapping up the three-game slate. Friday’s and Sunday’s games will both be available on ESPN3, while Saturday’s contest will be broadcast through WatchND’s free video stream available on UND.com.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director