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Notre Dame drops series at Wake Forest

| Monday, April 27, 2015

In a series that went down to the wire, Notre Dame came up on the losing end, dropping two of three games to Wake Forest at Wake Forest Baseball Park in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, over the weekend.

The Irish (28-15, 12-12 ACC) won 9-5 in Friday’s opener but lost 4-2 to the Demon Deacons (25-20, 11-13) on Saturday and fell 5-4 in 11 innings Sunday afternoon.

Notre Dame played into extra innings for the fifth time this season Sunday. The Irish surrendered four runs over the first three innings in the rubber game, as junior right-hander Nick McCarty was tagged for six hits and allowed all four runs in just 2 1/3 innings pitched. The Irish added runs in the second, third and fifth innings to keep within striking distance and then tied the game in the sixth when junior first baseman Zak Kutsulis lined a double down the left field line to score sophomore catcher Ryan Lidge.

Sophomore catcher Ryan Lidge follows through on a swing during Notre Dame’s 8-3 win against Central Michigan on March 18.Michael Yu | The Observer
Sophomore catcher Ryan Lidge follows through on a swing during Notre Dame’s 8-3 win against Central Michigan on March 18.

The Notre Dame trio of freshman right-hander Brad Bass, senior right-hander Scott Kerrigan and sophomore left-hander Scott Tully kept the Demon Deacons scoreless over the course of seven innings, but Wake Forest finally broke through against Tully in the 11th inning. With freshman center fielder Stuart Fairchild on second base, Demon Deacons redshirt freshman catcher Nick Bisplinghoff hit a line drive to left-center field that landed just out of the reach of Irish junior center fielder Kyle Richardson, allowing Fairchild to rush home for the winning run.

Trailing 1-0 in the third inning of Saturday’s game, Notre Dame tied the game on an RBI single by sophomore third baseman Kyle Fiala and then took the lead when the next batter, sophomore second baseman Cavan Biggio, grounded into a fielder’s choice. The Irish held that lead until the sixth inning when Demon Deacons sophomore designated hitter Will Craig hit a home run to right field.

Wake Forest broke the deadlock one inning later, when sophomore second baseman Nate Mondou hit a single to right field to score freshman shortstop Drew Freedman. The Demon Deacons added an insurance run later in the seventh on a fielder’s choice by freshman third baseman Justin Yurchak.

The Irish managed just five hits Saturday, with two of them coming against Demon Deacons sophomore starter Connor Johnstone. Notre Dame freshman right-hander Brandon Bielak gave up nine hits and two runs in 5 1/3 innings in the matchup.

Notre Dame won Friday’s opener after jumping out to an early 5-0 lead against Wake Forest senior right-hander Matt Pirro. Biggio got the scoring started with a home run to right-center field in the first frame. The Irish also took advantage of early mistakes by Pirro, with Lidge scoring on a wild pitch in the second inning and senior right fielder Robert Youngdahl scoring on a wild pitch in the fourth. Youngdahl, who finished the game with four hits, added an RBI double in the fifth inning.

In addition to Biggio’s home run, the Irish added two other four-baggers Friday night. Junior shortstop Lane Richards homered to left-center field in the eight inning, and Fiala added a solo shot to left in the ninth, one of three runs the Irish scored that inning.

Kerrigan earned the win for Notre Dame after pitching 3 2/3 innings in relief. The Irish starter, sophomore right-hander Ryan Smoyer, surrendered four hits and one run in 3 2/3 innings pitched.

Notre Dame will return to action Tuesday night, when the Irish host Michigan State at Frank Eck Stadium.

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