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Sheehan, Prajzner Lift Irish Over Blazers, 4-2

Box Score (PDF)

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — The University of Notre Dame baseball team kicked off the Link Jarrett era with a 4-2 win over UAB Friday afternoon after a strong pitching performance from junior lefty Tommy Sheehan. The Brielle, N.J. native tossed seven scoreless innings and set a career high with nine strikeouts to lead the Irish to the season opening win.

“I was very proud of our efforts on the mound and felt our defense played a solid game,” said head coach Link Jarrett. “Sheehan was outstanding and used his fastball really well. His execution of the up fastball was great today. Vail held things in check and Boyle closed out the game with two big strikeouts. Kavadas had a key at bat to draw the leadoff walk in the seventh. LaManna executed his bunt allowing Prajzner to drive in Niko with our first run.”

The Irish (1-0) broke the scoreless tie in the seventh after an RBI single from Zack Prajzner scored Niko Kavadas from second base. The Irish added another run in the seventh and two in the eighth, all on wild pitches to extend the lead.

UAB (0-1) scored twice in the eighth and had the tying runner in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth but Joe Boyle came on and struck out the final two batters to clinch the win.

Today personally I had some reflective moments as I recall my trip to UAB to coach 10 years ago as an assistant at ECU…. threw BP just like I did today,” said Jarrett. “It is such an honor to lead this program, and our guys grit today made me very, very proud. It was a very unique feeling today for me personally, and I am so thankful of the efforts of our assistant coaches and players to create a game one win. LaManna gave me the ball…. I will hang on to that one forever.”

How It Happened

Both starters got off to strong starts in the 2020 season opener, making easy work of the lineups through the early portion of the game. Through the first five innings, neither the Irish or Blazers could muster a hit against Sheehan and Austin Bohannon.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Blazers were first to break the hitless game with a triple to deep center by Jess Davis. Davis was at third with one out but Sheehan got out of the jam after a line drive was caught by Ryan Cole in left and Prajzner handled a grounder at short to end the inning.

Kavadas forced a full count and led off the top of the seventh with a walk to get the Irish started. David LaManna executed the sac bunt to move Kavadas over to second with Prajzner coming to the plate. He hit a seeing-eye single through the left side for the first hit of the game for the Irish and Kavadas came home for the game’s first run. The Irish added on to their lead as Prajzner scored from third on a wild pitch later in the inning.

The Irish added on to their lead in the top of the eighth, scoring two runs with two outs. Spencer Myers and Jared Miller both scored on wild pitches to extend the lead to 4-0.

UAB scored its first two runs of the game on an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth and got the tying run at second in the bottom of the ninth. Boyle entered the inning with one out and struck out the final two batters of the game to secure the win and pick up his first save of the season.

Game Notes

  • The Irish ended their three-game losing streak in season opening games with the 4-2 win. They also ended UAB’s three-game season opening win streak.
  • Tommy Sheehan set a career high with nine strikeouts in seven innings against UAB.
  • Sheehan had six outings of seven innings or more for the Irish last season.
  • Notre Dame as a team had 14 strikeouts against UAB. That is the most since March 23 of last season when the Irish struck out 14 against No. 19 Florida State.
  • Sophomore Brooks Coetzee notched his first career stolen base in the top of the ninth.

UP NEXT

The Irish will head back to Young Memorial Field for game two of the three-game series Saturday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on C-USA TV.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the Irish baseball program, follow @NDBaseball. For tickets to an Irish baseball game, click here.

—ND—