May 6, 2016

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By Ben Auwaerter

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On the last day of final exams for students, the University of Notre Dame baseball team couldn’t overcome an early offensive flurry from Atlantic Coast Conference foe Pittsburgh in a 4-2 loss to the Panthers Friday night at Frank Eck Stadium.

Both teams scored all of their runs in the first three innings. After that, the pitchers took over.

Pittsburgh pitchers Josh Falk (6.2 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO), Garrett Wrambel (1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 S0), and Yaya Chentouf (1.0 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO) kept the Irish bats at-bay for much of the game. Notre Dame only scored in one inning and left nine runners on base throughout the game.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame sophomore Brandon Bielak hurled 5.1 no-hit innings in relief to lower his ERA in 11 relief appearances to 0.76 and his overall ERA to 2.38. In those 11 relief appearances he has recorded 33 strikeouts over 35.1 innings of work and allowed just four runs (3 ER) to cross the dish in posting a 3-0 record.

The Panthers jumped out to a quick lead in the first inning. Notre Dame starter Peter Solomon, allowed two extra-base hits and one run. He escaped the jam by retiring the final two batters on fly outs.

In the bottom of the first, Irish senior Zak Kutsulis exited the game following a two-out single after pulling up running to first base. Junior Kyle Fiala replaced him on the base paths. Senior Ricky Sanchez singled in the next at bat, giving the Irish runners on first and second. The scoring threat would end there, however, as the next batter grounded out to third base to end the inning.

Pittsburgh plated one more run in the top of the second inning to push its lead to 2-0.

Notre Dame responded in the bottom of the second. With one out, senior Lane Richards singled to left field. Senior Kyle Richardson followed him by lining a double that would score Richards. Junior Ryan Lidge smacked a single in the next at bat, scoring Richardson and tying the game at two.

The back-and-forth game continued in the next inning, as the Panthers rebounded by reclaiming the lead in the third on three hits to tally the go-ahead runs and give the game its final margin.

With two outs in the fourth, Bielak relieved Solomon and began to dominate. He tossed 5.1 innings of stellar baseball to close out the game, keeping the Panthers hitless and scoreless in the process. He allowed just two walks and a hit by pitch on 75 pitches.

The Irish offense was unable to capitalize on Bielak’s outing, as they scattered 11 hits throughout the game. Notre Dame reached base in every inning but the ninth, but had trouble stringing together a few big plays to push runs across the plate. The home team stranded two runners each in both the first and eighth innings.

Sanchez finished the day with two hits to up his season batting average to a team-leading .329. Richards tallied a three-hit game and scored a run. Junior Ryan Lidge also had a solid night, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Notre Dame will look to get back in the win column at 4:05 p.m. ET Saturday as it continues its series against Pittsburgh. Fans can watch the game live on WatchND’s video broadcast or listen to the game on WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend.

A fan appreciation BBQ is scheduled for postgame. For more information on the BBQ, check out the Irish Twitter page.

For more information on the Notre Dame baseball team, 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.