April 18, 2015
Box Score – Game 1
Box Score– Game 2
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — After a heartbreaking 4-2 loss in 14 innings in game one of a Saturday doubleheader at Frank Eck Stadium, the University of Notre Dame baseball team bounced back in game two with a 7-2 victory to clinch an Atlantic Coast Conference series win over NC State.
With the win, the Irish (26-12, 11-10 ACC) clinched their third consecutive ACC series victory and have won 10 of their last 12 games. They sit in fourth place in the league’s Atlantic Division and in fifth place overall with a big series at Wake Forest coming up next weekend.
“I told the guys afterwards that outside the 25-inning game I was involved in at Boston College, I thought it was one of the most impressive things I’ve seen a team do,” said head coach Mik Aoki of the team’s effort, energy and determination they brought through 23 innings of baseball Saturday. “The energy they brought after they lost that 14-inning game was outstanding. Our guys were locked in. This was a series where we didn’t get a ton of hits in it, but guys weren’t sitting there feeling sorry for themselves. They were trying to do everything they could to win. We got enough timely hits throughout the course of the weekend to come out with the series win. That’s a good club over there in NC State.”
Senior Ryan Bull led the Irish on the day, batting .625 (5-8) with a double, two RBI and a run scored. Sophomore catcher Ryan Lidge had two hits, three walks, an RBI and a run scored, while junior Lane Richards had a clutch, two-run homer that got the Irish on the board in game two. Sophomore Kyle Fiala had a timely, two-RBI single after Richards’ homer that put the Irish up for good in game two.
Notre Dame has a pair of midweek contests coming up Tuesday and Wednesday. The Irish will first travel to Indianapolis for a 7 p.m. (ET) contest with Indiana University at Victory Field, home of the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians.
Wednesday, the Irish will return to Frank Eck Stadium for a 6:05 p.m. (ET) game with Chicago State.
GAME 1: NC State 4, No. 25 Notre Dame 2 (14 Innings)
Notre Dame had its chances in the second longest game of the year for the squad, but NC State scored a pair of runs in the top of the 14th inning to even the series with a 4-2 win in 14 innings.
Down 2-0 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, the Irish almost won the thing. Lidge induced a bases-loaded walk and Richards tallied an RBI groundout to tie the game at two with two outs and runners on second and third. However, a Zak Kutsulis bloop shot to left field couldn’t find green grass to give the Irish the walk-off win.
Each team put runners on base in extras, but solid pitching from both squads sent the game to 14. In the final frame, catcher Andrew Knizner hit a sac fly with the bases loaded to score one run, and Ryne Willard walked with the bases loaded to score another.
A 1-2-3 inning by NC State pitcher Joe O’Donnell (5-2) gave the Wolfpack the win.
NC State used five pitchers in the game, but finally found the answer in O’Donnell, who hurled 5.2 no-hit innings while striking out four.
Notre Dame starter Brandon Bielak put together his fourth consecutive quality start (6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 2 SO) and fifth overall despite not factoring into the decision.
Senior RHP Scott Kerrigan returned from a couple of week layoff, and gave the Irish a solid effort, hurling 4.1 shutout innings and allowing four hits.
Freshman Evy Ruibal (0-1) suffered the loss after allowing both runs. Ruibal pitched three innings and gave up two hits and three walks.
Senior Ryan Bull went 2-for-3 in the game to lead the Irish.
Notre Dame racked up just six hits and left eight guys on base compared to 11 hits and 15 runners left on base for the Wolfpack.
GAME 2: No. 25 Notre Dame 7, NC State 2
Behind big hits from Kyle Fiala, Bull and Richards, the Irish claimed the series win over NC State with a 7-2 victory in the doubleheader’s nightcap.
NC State looked like it had picked up right where it left off in game one, as the Wolfpack plated two runs in the top of the first inning on a double by Preston Palmeiro and an RBI groundout by Knizner.
However, those two runs would be it for State, as starter Nick McCarty (5-3) and relievers Brad Bass and Sean Guenther combined to allow just three more hits and three walks the rest of the evening. Bass and Guenther both hurled 1.2 no-hit innings for Notre Dame, holding NC State without a base runner for the final nine outs and 10 of the last 11.
Guenther has been absolutely lights out recently, as he hasn’t allowed a run in any of his last seven appearances (11.2 IP) in picking up four saves. During that stretch, the Atlanta native has 13 strikeouts and just one walk.
At the dish, Notre Dame finally got the bats going, scoring seven runs and cracking nine hits to go along with inducing a whopping eight walks.
“It was just a matter of stringing some good at-bats together here and there,” said Aoki of his team’s offensive production in game two after a tough first game. “Lane (Richards) gave us a big boost with one swing of the bat. Kyle (Fiala) got the big knock with two outs. I felt like we had good at-bats all through that first game, but we weren’t quite able to get the one we needed when we needed to push a run across. That’s the nature of baseball. If hitting were easy, everyone would be doing it. You just have to stay patient through it and persevere through it and I thought our guys did a good job today.”
The Irish had a monster second inning that saw them plate four runs and run Wolfpack starter Ryan Williamson after just 1.2 innings of work. It all started with Richards cranking a two-run homer over the left-field fence on the first pitch he saw to promptly tie the game at two.
Later in the inning, Fiala had a big two-RBI single to up the Irish lead to 4-2.
Notre Dame then added a run in the fourth, seventh and eighth innings. Bull had an RBI single in the fourth, scored on a throwing error in the seventh and hit an RBI single that bounced off the pitcher in the eighth to put a capper on his huge day.
Fiala finished with two hits, two RBI, a walk and a run scored, while Bull went 3-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored. Junior Kyle Richardson had two walks, a hit by pitch and two runs scored.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director