McCarty earns first win, ND tops Valparaiso
Matthew DeFranks | Thursday, March 27, 2014
A week ago, Notre Dame had no chance of beating Valparaiso — because the game had not yet been scheduled.
The Irish (9-14, 1-8 ACC) beat the Crusaders (9-10, 1-2 Horizon) 4-1 on Wednesday night at Four Winds Field in a replacement game for both teams.
“It’s nice to win,” Irish coach Mik Aoki said. “Those have been difficult for us to get. That was a much-needed win.”
Both Notre Dame’s Tuesday game against Illinois-Chicago and Valparaiso’s tilt with Ball State were postponed due to weather.
Sophomore right-hander Nick McCarty (1-5) earned his first win of the season by throwing six innings of three-hit, one-run ball. He struck out five and walked none.
“I didn’t think Nick was super sharp but I think he battled through it and I thought that the big thing for him was that he was in the strike zone,” Aoki said. “He made them put the ball in play as opposed to giving up those free 90s which he has a little bit this year and it’s hurt him.”
McCarty has had three outings of at least six innings — including seven innings of one-run ball against NC State — but had not registered a victory.
“[It] feels really good,” McCarty said. “We’ve been working very hard for this and it just feels good to get that monkey off my back and get the first win.”
The win came just four days after McCarty had a rough outing against Virginia Tech. He went just one and a third innings and gave up five hits, seven runs, six earned in Saturday’s 8-3 loss.
“Admittedly, on his part, he was not very good on Saturday so it was nice to see him do that,” Aoki said.
Freshman third baseman Kyle Fiala led the Irish at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a run scored. Sophomore left fielder Zak Kutsulis (2-for-4 with one RBI) and freshman catcher Ryan Lidge (2-for-3) also had multi-hit days for Notre Dame.
The Irish jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. After junior designated hitter Conor Biggio was hit by a pitch, junior center fielder Mac Hudgins laid down a sacrifice bunt and junior first baseman Blaise Lezynski drove him in with a RBI single to right field.
Fiala poked a single to right field and freshman second baseman Cavan Biggio flew out to deep left field to plate Lezynski. Notre Dame nearly scored again in the first, but Valparaiso senior center fielder Chris Manning threw Fiala out at the plate on a single up the middle to end the frame.
The Crusaders manufactured a run in the top of the second when senior third baseman Michael Morman singled, stole second and eventually scored on a McCarty wild pitch.
Notre Dame added an insurance run in the sixth when Fiala and Cavan Biggio strung together back-to-back two-out singles. Kutsulis drove in Fiala with a RBI double to put the Irish up 3-1.
The Irish scored again in the seventh as Hudgins’ sacrifice bunt scored sophomore pinch runner Jack Flaherty, who pinch ran for Lidge.
“It’s always nice to make it a little pressure-free,” Aoki said. “I don’t know if it’s ever pressure-free but it was nice that we had those insurance runs.”
Crusaders sophomore right-hander Ellis Foreman (1-1) took the loss.
After giving up two runs in the first, Foreman cruised through the next four innings. He allowed just one hit and threw just 31 pitches in those four frames. Foreman finished with 79 pitches and gave up four runs on nine hits in seven innings.
“I thought the kid did a fairly decent job of mixing the fastball, change up to the lefties,” Aoki said. “He got us on some early weak contact after the first inning where we put up those two runs. In the last three innings or so, I thought our at-bats got a little bit better against him.”
Irish junior right-hander Cristian Torres earned his second save by getting the final two outs.
The Irish return to ACC play this weekend when they host Wake Forest. Friday and Sunday’s games will be at Four Winds Field while Saturday’s will be at the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Ind.