Feb. 27, 2016
By Russell Dorn
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Riding the momentum of Saturday’s thrilling come from behind walk-off win over Texas Southern, the University of Notre Dame baseball team continued its offensive outburst in a 13-2 clubbing of the University of the Incarnate Word Saturday afternoon at Nelson Wolff Stadium.
Nine different Irish batters combined for 15 hits. Notre Dame scored four runs in the first inning, one in the third, four in the fourth, three in the seventh and one in the eighth to cruise past the Cardinals.
The Irish have now outscored UIW by a combined score of 46-6 over their last four meetings going back to 2014.
Lost in the shuffle of an impressive offensive performance was another outstanding pitching effort by the Irish staff. Sophomore LHP Sean Guenther earned the first win of his career when starting after going 7.1 innings and allowing just one run, four hits and two walks. He struck out five batters to tie a career high.
Guenther (1-1) was pleased with the effort after allowing four runs (2 ER) and suffering the loss in just four innings of work last weekend at Santa Clara in his first start of the season.
“I didn’t do as well as I wanted to in Santa Clara and I worked this week on a bunch of drills to try and get to where I wanted to be,” said the Atlanta product. “I felt like I went out today and threw well and it kind of came together for me.
At the dish the Irish had their way with Cardinal pitching. Notre Dame jumped all over starter Denson Hull in the first inning, plating four runs that were highlighted by Vierling’s two-RBI single up the middle.
Hull would only last two innings, giving up five runs on five hits and three walks.
Reliever Cody Richey (1.2 IP, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 SO) didn’t have much success either, as senior Zak Kutsulis drove home a run in the third before four runs crossed the dish in the fourth including an RBI double by senior Lane Richards and an RBI single by junior Kyle Fiala.
In the seventh inning, freshman designated hitter Connor Stutts picked up his second career hit by way of a three-run homer that soared over the leftfield wall. Stutts other career hit was a key RBI triple that tied Friday’s game against Texas Southern at five in the bottom of the ninth inning.
An inning later with a ton of newcomers getting a chance to play, freshman Cole Daily earned his first career RBI by inducing a bases-loaded walk. A night earlier, Daily scored the winning run in the victory over Texas Southern.
“That was great,” Guenther said about the offensive run support. “The defense also played errorless baseball behind me which is easier said than done. The team gave me a lot of good run support and some good defensive plays up and down each inning. They made it easier for me today.”
For the game, the Notre Dame offense lit up Cardinal pitching for 15 hits, 11 walks, three extra-base hits and seven stolen bases.
The top five hitters in the Irish offense went a combined 10-for-19 with five RBI, five walks and nine runs scored.
Junior second baseman Cavan Biggio went 2-for-3 with two walks, an RBI, two stolen bases and three runs scored. Senior catcher Ricky Sanchez continued his blazing start to the season with three hits, a walk, an RBI and a run scored.
Kutsulis went 3-for-4 in the game with an RBI and two runs scored and Richards posted a pair of doubles to go along with two walks, an RBI and run scored.
Leadoff hitter Jake Johnson had a single, two walks and two runs scored.
The impressive performances on Saturday continued the red-hot starts for both Biggio and Sanchez. Biggio has a split of .409/.536/.545 and Sanchez isn’t far behind at .400/.455/.450. Meanwhile, Vierling sits at .368/.500/.579.
Johnson and Biggio both sport six-game hitting streaks, while Sanchez has a five-game hitting streak and Vierling a four-game hitting streak.
Notre Dame (3-3) closes out the Alamo Irish Classic at 12 p.m. (ET) Sunday against Gonzaga. Fans can follow the action through WatchND’s free audio broadcast in addition to live stats.
For more information on the Notre Dame baseball, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).
Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning his master’s degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.