March 15, 2014
Box Score – Game 1
Box Score – Game 2
DURHAM, N.C. – The University of Notre Dame baseball team dropped a pair of tough games to Duke University Saturday afternoon at Jack Coombs Field as the Blue Devils completed the three-game sweep of the Irish with 4-1 and 1-0 victories.
Notre Dame had several opportunities in both games but couldn’t get the bats going as it registered one run on 10 hits in the two games combined.
In the 1-0 nightcap, Notre Dame had runners on the corners with no outs and then bases loaded with two outs, but couldn’t plate a run to put pressure on the Blue Devils. A critical error in the bottom half of the inning ultimately allowed the winning run to cross the dish.
Close games have been a pattern again this year for the Irish, as they are now 2-8 in games decided by two runs or less, while nine of the 12 losses have been by three runs or less.
Blaise Lezynski, Kyle Fiala and Cavan Biggio each recorded two hits on the day to pace the Irish. On the mound, Matt Ternowchek (4.0 IP, 1 H) and Michael Hearne (5.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER) turned in strong days for the Irish. Junior RHP Pat Connaughton saw his first action of the season after finishing his duty with the Notre Dame men’s basketball team Wednesday afternoon. Connaugton earned the start in game two and went three innings, tossing 51 pitches, giving up three hits and two walks while striking out one.
The Irish (6-12, 0-6 ACC) finally will get to play some games in their region of the country this week as they meet NAIA Robert Morris (IL) at 7:05 p.m. CT Tuesday night at Chicago State’s baseball stadium. Next weekend Notre Dame welcomes in former BIG EAST foe Virginia Tech for a three-game ACC set. Friday’s game will be at Four Winds Field in South Bend before the series switches to the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Ind., for the final two games.
GAME 1: Duke 4, Notre Dame 1
Duke pitcher Andrew Istler allowed only one run on five hits in eight innings of work and the Blue Devils scored all of their runs with two outs as the home team bested Notre Dame, 4-1, in game one of a Saturday doubleheader.
For the 12th time in 17 games this season, Notre Dame jumped on the board first as Fiala hit an RBI single to score Mac Hudgins in the third inning. Notre Dame racked up three of its five hits on the game in the inning and fell to 5-7 in games this year where they scored first.
As has become common place this season, the opponent answered in the next at-bat following an Irish run as Duke put three runners across the dish in the bottom of the third to take a 3-1 lead. With one out, Andy Perez was plucked on a 2-1 pitch. After a fly out, Perez stole second, which later allowed him to head home on a single to right center by Mark Lumpa. In the next at-bat, the sun played fits on right fielder Robert Youngdahl as he lost the ball in the air, resulting in a Mike Rosenfeld RBI triple. Finally, a double from ACC RBI leader Chris Marconcini scored the final Blue Devil run of the inning.
Duke added a run in the fourth on a two-out RBI single from Perez to up its lead to 4-1 and close out the scoring for the game.
Third baseman Jordan Betts led Duke with two hits. Four different Blue Devils recorded RBI.
Istler (3-2) gave the Irish bats fits all day as he went eight innings and allowed just five hits and a run to lower his season ERA to 0.89. He struck out five and walked two in 101 pitches. Robert Huber earned his fourth save of the season with an inning of work.
Notre Dame starter Nick McCarty (0-4) gave up six hits and four runs in four innings of work before being relieved by Ternowchek. The Glenmoore, Pa., native turned in far and away his best outing of the season as he went four innings and allowed one hit while striking out two in 40 pitches. Entering the game, Ternowchek had gone just 1.2 innings in four appearances.
The game was the shortest of the season as it went exactly two hours long, 11 minutes shorter than the Santa Clara game Feb. 20 in San Antonio.
GAME 2: Duke 1, Notre Dame 0
A pitchers dual followed in game two as neither team could capitalize on limited chances through the first eight innings before a wild ninth inning decided the game.
The Irish looked to be in good position in the top half of the ninth as an inning-opening double by Lezynski followed by a fielder’s choice sac bunt by Forrest Johnson gave Notre Dame runners at the corners with no outs. Lane Richards came to the plate and put down a safety squeeze bunt, but unfortunately for the Irish, Lezynski got caught in a rundown as he headed for home and was tagged out. Richards advanced safely to give Notre Dame runners at first and second with one out. Later in the inning, freshman Ryan Lidge earned a walk to load the bases with two outs for Conor Biggio. The Houston, Texas native worked a 3-2 count but watched a called third strike that ended the inning.
Duke came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth needing a single run to walk-off the Irish for the second day in a row. Marconcini was first to the plate and hit a grounder to the right side. Lezynski fielded the ball clean and tossed it to pitcher Michael Hearne, who caught the ball but missed the bag by inches to allow Marconcini on base. A sac bunt moved him to second base and a double by pinch hitter Cristian Perez scored the winning run. Duke walked off the Irish for the second time in three games after a walk gave 4-3 win Friday night.
Hearne (1-1) earned the hard-luck loss after going 5.1 innings in relief of Connaughton as he gave up just the one hit and run.
Notre Dame put together just five hits during the game on offense and hasn’t scored since the third inning of the first game Saturday (15 innings).
Duke only had four hits on offense and used seven pitchers throughout the game. Closer Robert Huber (2-0) earned the win after entering the ninth inning with no outs and preventing the Irish from scoring a run.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director