May 20, 2017
By Michael Scholl
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — The Notre Dame baseball team dropped another heartbreaker to Boston College in the regular-season finale Saturday, falling to the Eagles, 8-7.
The Irish had already secured a spot in the 2017 ACC Baseball Championship, but BC needed a win to guarantee its berth. Mik Aoki’s squad used six pitchers as they prepared for next weekend, while Mike Gambino’s team went to its closer, Donovan Casey, for the third time this weekend.
Brandon Bielak started and went just 2.2, allowing three hits and three runs. Matt Vierling took the loss with 1.2 innings of work, conceding three runs on four hits. Anthony Holubecki, Evy Ruibal, Zach Martin and Jack Sheehan also saw time on the mound.
At the plate, Jake Johnson went 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.Eric Feliz was 1-for-3 while knocking in a pair. Ryan Lidge, Cole Daily and Daniel Jung also knocked in runs for the Irish. Lidge walked three times and scored twice.
BC had a trio of hitters knock in a pair in Michael Strem, Mitch Bigras and Johnny Adams. Gian Martellini was 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Brian Rapp started for the Eagles and gave up all seven Irish runs over the first four innings. Carmen Giampetruzzi, Luke Fernandes and Donovan Casey combined for five innings of shutout, two-hit relief, with Casey getting the win.
The Irish took advantage of free bases to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Johnson drew a one-out walk before Lidge followed with a two-out walk. Daily then delivered a single up the middle, scoring Johnson and moving Lidge to third. The Irish catcher then came home on a wild pitch before Gilgenbach flew out to end the frame with the visitors up 2-0.
BC cut the lead in half in the second. Gian Martellini led off with a single before Jake Alu bunted him up to second. Martellini then moved up to third on a wild pitch before Mitch Bigras plated the run with a fly ball to right. Bielak then got a strikeout of Johnny Adams to end the frame.
Notre Dame pushed the lead back to two in the third. Johnson started it with a one-out to double to center. Vierling followed with a single just over the shortstop to put runners at the corners and Lidge delivered with a sacrifice fly to center to score Johnson. Vierling kept the pressure on with a steal of second base, but Daily flew out to end the frame with a 3-1 Irish lead.
The Eagles used a two-out rally to tie things in the third. Jake Palomaki drew a two-out walk before Donovan Casey doubled to center. With the Irish berth in the ACC Championship already clinched, Mik Aoki had Bielak on a short leash and he went to the bullpen for Evy Ruibal. Michael Strem delivered a two-run single to left, tying the game 3-3. Ruibal induced a groundout to end the frame.
The Irish retook the lead in the fourth. It started when Gilgenbach was hit by a pitch to leadoff the inning. Jung then grounded out, moving Gilgenbach up to second before he went to third on a wild pitch. Feliz did his job with a fly ball to center, scoring Gilgenbach. With two outs and the bases empty, Aoki called for consecutive bunts by Shepski and Podkul, who both executed to perfection to put two more on. Johnson kept it going, singling to left to score Shepski. Vierling flew out to end the frame with Notre Dame up 5-3.
Notre Dame worked around a pair of leadoff walks to preserve its lead. Alu and Bigras drew the free passes before Adams grounded out to put runners at second and third with one down. Aoki called Martin in from the pen and the freshman got a strikeout of Yish before Dempsey hit a liner that was snared on a leaping grab by Podkul at second to end the inning.
The Irish added two more in the fifth. Lidge and Daily drew walks to start the inning before BC went to the bullpen. Gilgenbach laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up before Jung plated Lidge with an RBI groundout. Feliz followed with a single to center, scoring Daily. Shepski tried to bunt for a base hit again, but a nifty defensive lay by the third baseman Brian Dempsey ended the inning with the Irish up 7-3.
The bottom of the fifth became the third straight half-inning to begin with consecutive walks, as Palomaki and Casey drew the bases on balls. Aoki went back to the pen, bringing in Sheehan. He got Strem to fly out to center for the first out before Martellini hit a bloop single just over the head of Jung to load the bases. Alu hit a fly ball to center, scoring Palomaki and cutting the Irish lead to 7-4. Then on a 1-2 pitch, Strem checked his swing and Lidge threw behind Martellini at first to retire the side.
BC cut into the deficit but left the bases loaded in the sixth. A walk, wild pitch and groundout put a runner at third with one out before Yish hit a grounder that got away from Jung, scoring the run and allowing Yish to reach. Dempsey followed with a single before Palomaki flew out for the second out of the frame. Casey drew a two-out walk to load the bases before Strem flew out to end it with the Irish leading 7-5.
An eventful seventh inning allowed Boston College to tie the game. The inning started with Aoki bringing Vierling in from center field to pitch, moving Gilgenbach to left, Johnson to center and putting Feliz, the DH, in right. Vierling issued a leadoff walk before Alu singled. A passed ball put runners at second and third and Bigras singled home a run, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. Adams then tripled on a ball to deep left-center when Gilgenbach lost it in the sun. Vierling got a strikeout for the second out of the inning before walking Dempsey on four pitches. He then retired Palomaki swinging to take it to the eighth tied 7-7.
For the second day in a row, Boston College scored the winning run in the eighth. Casey started the inning with a single up the middle before Strem sacrificed him to second. Martellini walked before Alu flew out for out number two. Bigras walked on a full count to load the bases before Adams drew a walk to score Casey. Holubecki entered the game and struck out Jake Cunningham to provide the final margin of 8-7.
The Irish threatened in the ninth but were unable to draw even. Johnson hit a one-out single to right before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Vierling went down swinging on a seven-pitch battle before Lidge was walked on four pitches. Daily then flew out to left to end the ballgame.
The Irish will be the 12 seed in the 2017 ACC Baseball Championship, which opens Tuesday at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, Kentucky. Stay tuned to UND.com/NDBaseball and @NDBaseball on Twitter for more information on Notre Dame’s first game at the league tournament.
— ND —
Michael Scholl joined Fighting Irish Media in August 2016, coordinating communications for the baseball program and assisting with the football team at his alma mater. The South Bend native earned a degree in political science from the College of Arts & Letters in 2009 before going on to work in athletics communications at Providence College, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati.