Irish lose three games out West
Alex Bender | Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Notre Dame continued its slow start to the season this past weekend, closing the Tony Gwynn Classic with losses to UC-Irvine, San Diego and San Diego State.
The Irish started off their West Coast trip by falling 18-4 to UC-Irvine on Thursday. The game was opened up fairly early on by the Anteaters, who took a 7-1 lead by the fourth inning. Ultimately, not much went right for Notre Dame on the day.
Notre Dame started turning things in the right direction, sticking with San Diego for much of the game. However, the Irish fell victim to a big inning when the Toreros were able to tack on four runs in the third inning en route to handing Notre Dame a 6-2 loss.
“A little bit of everything went wrong against UC-Irvine. Pitching didn’t do particularly well, our defense wasn’t strong and the game got out of hand,” Aoki said. “San Diego was a game where we had one inning that hurt us with a combination of miscues and it ended up being the difference in the game.”
The Irish lost a close game Saturday, this time by a score of 7-6 against San Diego State. The bats finally got going for Notre Dame with senior infielder and captain Kyle Fiala leading the way, going 4-for-5 with a two-run, inside-the-park home run in the seventh.
“Saturday I thought we played pretty well,” Aoki said. “We pitched well and swung the bats well, but it was just one of those games where they made a play or two more than us. … I thought it was probably our best effort of the season.”
The three losses put the Irish record at 1-6 at this early point in the season. While there is obviously plenty of room for improvement, Aoki said he has diagnosed some of the issues his team is having that need to be fixed.
“We have got to play better infield defense,” Aoki said. “I didn’t anticipate it being a difficulty for us at this point in the year, but as we start to figure it out, I think that will turn itself around. Across the entire team, individual guys are doing fine, but it’s as a whole that we need to improve.”
Aoki expressed confidence in his team, saying they’ll be able to right the ship as the season continues.
“My message after this weekend was that we have to be positive, lock arms and band together to get through this stretch,” Aoki said. “Sometimes you need some downward trends to fortify, and facing adversity can help a team. We knew we would hit tough stretches, even if we didn’t anticipate it coming this early, but so be it. We just need to be positive and get a little better every day.”
On deck for the Irish is a trip to Cary, North Carolina, for the USA Baseball-Irish Classic from Friday to Sunday, where they will face Maryland, UMass Lowell, Rhode Island and Monmouth.