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Baseball: Thunderstruck

Isaac Lorton | Thursday, April 18, 2013

The thunderstorm ended Notre Dame’s offensive storm.

Lightning and rain shortened the game to four innings and nullified what looked to be a sure Irish (19-15, 4-8 Big East) victory, as they led Bowling Green 12-0. Notre Dame did not reach the five innings necessary for a game to be counted as official, and the 12 runs and all statistics racked up in the game are not counted.

Coming in riding a six-game losing streak, the Irish were in desperate need of a win. Irish coach Mik Aoki said he was disappointed the game didn’t count, but was not willing to go against the integrity of baseball.

“Just four outs to record before it counted as an official game,” Aoki said. “We knew it was coming and originally we thought we had a window of opportunity until about 7:30 or 8, but then it seemed the storm sped up. We knew it was coming, but it’s not like you can tell the kids to go up to the plate and make outs to try and speed the game along. I guess maybe we should have done that in hindsight, but it just doesn’t seem right.”    

Notre Dame jumped to an early lead in the first inning and broke a 54.1-inning leadless drought. It was the first lead for the Irish since the Saturday game of the Villanova series on April 5. With the bases loaded and one out, sophomore left fielder Ryan Bull hit a high-bouncing ball over Bowling Green freshman pitcher Brett Fitzwater’s head to score Irish second baseman Frank DeSico for the 1-0 lead.  Notre Dame sophomore designated hitter Phil Mosey then roped a two-out, two-run single to left field and the Irish took a 3-0 lead.

In the bottom of the third, Notre Dame unleashed an offensive frenzy and hopped on the merry-go-round, as they scored eight runs in the inning. In doing so, the Irish matched their run total for the past five games in one inning.

First baseman Trey Mancini began the inning when he reached second base on a throwing error by Falcons freshman third baseman Nick Glanzman. Bull then hit a brisk grounder up the middle to score Mancini for his second RBI on the night and a 4-0 Irish lead. Sophomore right-hander Jason Link relieved Fitzwater.

With the bases loaded and one out, junior catcher Forest Johnson hit a lazy pop fly which landed in no-man’s land in the outfield, scoring the fifth Irish run. DeSico then hit a sharp grounder, which Glanzman laid out for and knocked down, but was unable to get the out. Everyone was safe and Notre Dame took a 6-0 lead. Freshman right fielder Zak Kutsulis next hit a gapper between first and second which brought in two more runs, for an 8-0 lead.

To cap off the inning, junior third baseman Eric Jagielo hit a monster three-run homer to right field against the gusting 15 mph wind for an 11-0 lead. Link was then relieved by junior right-hander Chris Miller and the inning finally came to an end.

There are positives and negatives to take away from a game like this, Aoki said. It was positive to see this kind of run production, which may lead to some much-needed momentum, but since the win is not official, it is hard to say it will stop Notre Dame’s losing streak.  

“I think the kids can go home feeling pretty good about the way that they swung the bats and the way that they played,” Aoki said. “At the end of the day, we kind of officially need to record a win [to get over the slide], but we can put it in the category that if we don’t have bad luck, we don’t have any luck at all. It is what it is.”

When Charlie Markson reached base in the bottom of the fourth on a single up the middle, all Notre Dame batters had reached base successfully. The Irish loaded the bases for the third time in four innings and DeSico hit an RBI single for the 12-0 lead. With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, a mandatory half-hour delay was called due to lightning strikes near the stadium and when the rain began to pour, the team pulled the cover over the field and the game was called.

The Irish next host a series with Quinnipiac on Friday at 5:35 at Frank Eck Stadium and then play Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:05 p.m.  

Contact Isaac Lorton at ilorton@nd.edu