April 5, 2016
By Ben Auwaerter
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame baseball team had everything working on Tuesday night at Frank Eck Stadium in a 9-5 victory over its oldest rival – No. 17 Michigan. The win snapped a nine-game winning streak for the visiting Wolverines.
The bats were hot, as the Irish tallied 14 hits on the evening, while on the pitching end, Notre Dame starter senior Michael Hearne conceded only three hits and one run over seven innings to boost his record to 3-0 and earn his second quality start of the season.
Notre Dame is now 6-0 this year when Hearne starts on the mound.
“The fastball command was key for him,” said head coach Mik Aoki. “Just being able to move the fastball in and out and sprinkle in the change-up. [He gave] them enough of a breaking pitch to give them another look.”
Michigan pitching entered the game allowing an NCAA-low 6.13 hits per nine innings. Apparently, the Irish did not get that message.
With the victory, the Irish have now won eight of their last nine games and 10 of their last 13 to improve their record to 16-11.
“I thought outside of one inning there we played really well from beginning to end. All along, I felt like the way we’ve been playing the last two or three weeks is the way we’d play the whole thing,” said Aoki.
The Irish kicked off the scoring in the second inning. Senior Lane Richards began the frame with a walk. Senior Ricky Sanchez followed with a line-drive single, and freshman Nick Podkul loaded the bases after getting hit by a pitch. Junior Ryan Lidge recorded the first two runs on a double over the head of the center fielder.
That would be the end of the day for Wolverine’s freshman starter, William Tribucher. On reliever Troy Miller’s first pitch, senior Kyle Richardson ripped a ball down the left field line for an RBI double. Later on in the inning, senior Zak Kutsulis grounded a double to right field that gave the Irish a 5-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, the Irish offense got going once again. Richardson started things off with an infield single. Sophomore Jake Shepski made the score 7-0 when he slammed a homerun to left field.
The two-run blast was his team-leading fifth of the season. Shepski has hit all of his five homeruns over the team’s last eight games.
Later on in the inning, Sanchez recorded an RBI single to extend the Irish lead to 8-0.
Freshman Matt Vierling flexed his muscles with a homerun in the sixth. The solo shot was his third of the season and it pushed the score to 9-0.
The Wolverines attempted to make a comeback in the seventh and eighth innings, as they tallied five runs on five hits over that stretch to bring the score to 9-5. That would be the last of their scoring, as junior Jim Orwick and sophomore Brandon Bielak closed out the game in the ninth.
Kyle Richardson had a huge day at the plate, tying his career high with three hits and setting a career high with two doubles. Overall, he went 3-4 with two runs and two RBI.
“I was just staying with the approach that I’ve been working on all year, really seeing the ball deep and being able to attack it early in the account,” said Richardson.
Sanchez also had a big game, going 3-5 with one run and one RBI. Nick Podkul continued his torrid stretch with a 2-3 day. His average continues to rise, now resting at a team-high .405 mark in nine starts.
Cavan Biggio recorded his 35th walk of the season in the seventh inning, tying him for the NCAA lead with Miami’s Zack Collins.
Every Notre Dame starter had at least one hit by the sixth inning.
The Irish will try to build off Tuesday’s victory at 6:05 p.m. ET Wednesday against Valparaiso (10-15). Fans can follow along through WatchND’s free online video stream or by tracking live stats. Links for both are on UND.com.
For more information on the Notre Dame baseball, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).
Ben Auwaerter is a freshman at Notre Dame and is from Lutherville, Maryland. He previously worked during the summer of 2014 with the Baltimore Orioles public relations office.