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Baseball: Irish losing streak extends to six

Vicky Jacobsen | Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When the Notre Dame lineup faced Michigan sophomore James Bourque on April 9, the right-hander held the Irish to one run on five hits in a 4-1 victory. The Ann Arbor native upped the ante Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning and leading the Wolverines to a 8-2 home win over the Irish.

Notre Dame (19-15) now has dropped six games in a row.

“I thought [Bourque] had really good stuff from the very beginning,” Irish coach Mik Aoki said. “He’s a kid who has really good stuff but has struggled with control at times. We had a couple of fairly well-hit balls, but I thought he was pretty dominant from the very beginning.”

Notre Dame freshman Zak Kutsulis took the loss in his first start of the season. Although he didn’t overwhelm the Michigan lineup, he held the Wolverines (21-14) to two runs in his five innings pitched.

“We put him in some pretty tough predicaments in terms of not being as clean with the baseball as we have been most of the year,” Aoki said. “I thought he did a good job, he pitched out of a couple of [situations where there were] runners in scoring position with nobody out.”

The freshman also accounted for much of the Irish offense – Kutsulis moved to the designated hitter spot after five innings on the mound, and hit a double and scored a run in the top of the ninth.

Junior right-hander Donnie Hissa ran into trouble when he relieved Kutsulis in bottom of the sixth inning. Hissa gave up three runs in the inning, and was charged with three more in the seventh.

“I didn’t necessarily think Donnie threw the ball poorly,” Aoki said. “I was impressed with the way he threw his fastball – it had good life. He just wasn’t getting the results, and he was just not making a few of those put-away pitches that we needed.”

Freshman right-hander David Hearne finished the game with a clean 1.2 innings, surrendering just one hit.

Michigan designated hitter Kevin White was responsible for much of the damage done by the Wolverine lineup. White went 4-for-4 on the afternoon and scored two runs.

It looked like the Irish might have broken up Bourque’s no-hitter in the seventh inning when junior first baseman Trey Mancini smacked the ball to the second baseman, but the scorekeeper ruled there was an error on the play.

It was freshman shortstop Lane Richards who actually did the honors when he hit a clear single to left field in the eighth inning, but the Irish didn’t score in the inning.

Although Kutsulis and Mancini rounded the bases in the ninth, they were unable to close the deficit for the sixth time in six games.

The Irish will try to halt the losing streak today as they send junior right-hander Sean Fitzgerald to the mound against Bowling Green. Fitzgerald is 1-3 in seven starts so far this spring and has a 5.40 ERA in 41.2 innings pitched.

The first pitch will be thrown at 5:35 p.m. today at Frank Eck Stadium.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected]