March 22, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Behind a solid outing from starter Josh Rogers and three runs in the first four innings from the Cardinal bats, No. 8 Louisville completed the Atlantic Coast Conference weekend sweep of the University of Notre Dame baseball team with a 3-0 win Sunday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium.
For the Irish (15-7, 3-6 ACC), the series finale was not much different than the previous two games, as they ran into some outstanding Cardinal pitching.
Rogers (3-1) went 7.1 innings and allowed just six hits and two walks while striking out six Notre Dame batters to earn the win. Lincoln Henzman tallied an out, and Drew Harrington earned his second save of the weekend with 1.1 perfect innings to close out the game. The outing was the longest of the year for Rogers.
Facing one of the best pitching staffs in the ACC and arguably one of the best in the country this weekend, Notre Dame tallied just four runs, 17 hits and 10 walks in 36 innings of competition. Louisville pitching had a 1.00 ERA for the weekend with 41 strikeouts.
“We certainly left some runs out on the base paths yesterday and maybe a couple today,” said head coach Mik Aoki. “But to a certain extent that’s the nature of baseball too. You get into sort of that excuse-making mindset that we should have done this, should have done that. That takes away from what the other team did as well. Louisville pitched well.
“I think the big thing is for the first half of this game I wasn’t all that enthused with where our energy level was. I think the important thing for us is that we show back up on Tuesday and our engagement and compete level are back to where it’s been. I thought in the latter half of the game we did that. I thought in the first half of the game we got away from it a bit. We will get back to who and what we are and the wins and losses will take care of themselves. We just have to worry about us trying to be as good as we can both individually and collectively and keeping that one pitch at a time mentality.”
The Irish pitching was more than solid in their own right, as they allowed just 11 runs for a 2.75 ERA. Louisville scored its 11 runs in just seven innings over the course of the weekend, with six of the runs coming in Saturday’s 18-inning marathon.
Without leading hitter Ryan Bull (.386 AVG) for the fourth consecutive game and standout leadoff batter Jake Johnson (.404 OBP) for the second game in a row, the Irish offense struggled Sunday, as they totaled just six hits with junior Zak Kutsulis recording the only multi-hit day. Sophomores Kyle Fiala and Cavan Biggio each had a hit and walk.
Cardinal pitchers forced three 1-2-3 innings, as Notre Dame only reached third base twice.
In the first inning, the Irish had Fiala on third base with one out, but an infield popup and a deep fly out ended the threat.
In the fifth frame, back-to-back singles from Kyle Richardson and Kutsulis gave the Irish runners at first and second with one out. A batter later, a passed ball advanced the runners, but a ground out to the pitcher ended Notre Dame’s last serious threat.
Louisville struck first with an RBI ground out from Corey Ray in the first inning and Blake Tiberi (RBI ground out) and Devin Hairston (RBI single) added to the Cardinal lead in the fourth to give the game its final score.
Junior Nick McCarty (3-2) suffered the loss despite another solid effort. The Westfield, Indiana native allowed all three runs on 10 hits. He struck out four and earned his team-high fifth quality start in six outings this year.
“You’ve got really good teams and really good arms in this conference,” said Aoki. “You certainly don’t want to make excuses, but it doesn’t help when two of your better offensive players are out for the whole series or most of the series. You have to be good enough to overcome that; everyone is going to go through a little injury adversity during a season. It’s a difficult and challenging league that’s for sure. Doesn’t get any easier next weekend with Virginia.”
Notre Dame returns to non-conference action at 7 p.m. (ET) Tuesday night, when it makes the short trek over to Chicago for a single game with UIC (7-10-1). Fans can follow the game online through WatchND’s audio broadcast (WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend) or by tracking live stats. Links are on UND.com.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director