Irish grab top-10 win against Seminoles
Marek Mazurek | Monday, April 4, 2016
Over the weekend, No. 22 Notre Dame split a doubleheader with No. 9 Florida State after an unusual April snowfall turned a three-game series into a two-game Sunday set.
With the win in the second game of the doubleheader on Sunday, Notre Dame (26-6, 5-3 ACC) snapped Florida State’s (27-4, 7-1 ACC) 22-game win streak. The weekend series did not begin well for the Irish, however, as they fell in the first game of the doubleheader at Melissa Cook Stadium, 14-5.
The game was a close contest for four innings. Junior Rachel Nasland started on the mound for the Irish and was looking for her 10th win of the season. The Seminoles had other plans, however, and they knocked in six runs in the first three innings off of the right-hander.
The Irish answered back though, with five runs of their own to make it a 6-5 game after the third inning, and it remained that way after a scoreless fourth frame.
From there, however, the Seminoles took the lead and never looked back. In the fifth inning, the Seminoles scored two runs and added four more in the top of the sixth largely due to a three-run home run by junior Seminoles first baseman Alex Powers. In addition to the home run to break the game open, Powers recorded four hits in four at-bats and knocked in five runs.
Florida State added two more insurance runs in top of the seventh inning to extend its lead, bringing the game to its final score, 14-5. Nasland pitched four innings and gave up eight runs — five earned — as she picked up her first loss of the season. Florida State junior Jessica Burroughs pitched all seven innings for the Seminoles and earned her 16th win of the season.
“We played really poorly the first game,” Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “I just challenged them to step up and start fighting, and I thought they did a great job of that in the second game, they didn’t back down to the challenge, they fought and I love that.”
The second game started on a stronger note for the Irish. Junior center fielder Karley Wester lead off the contest with a triple to the left field gap. Her sister, freshman second baseman Ali Wester, reached base on an error by Seminoles sophomore third baseman Jessica Warren and drew an errant throw on her stolen base attempt of second that led to Karley Wester scoring the game’s first run.
Irish senior left-hander Allie Rhodes took the mound and was solid through the first two innings, allowing three hits and keeping the Seminoles off of the scoreboard.
The Irish kept the pressure up in the bottom of the second inning. Freshman catcher Maddie McCracken singled and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and groundout. With two outs, Ali Wester chopped a ground ball to the shortstop and was called out on at first base on a controversial call to prevent McCracken from scoring.
In the third inning, Rhodes worked herself into a jam, walking three Florida State batters to load the bases. A catcher’s interference call plated one Seminole run, but Rhodes got freshman designated hitter Zoe Casas to fly out to first base to keep the score tied at 1-1.
With the game tied in the bottom of the third inning, the Irish threatened to score yet again. Arizmendi singled to lead off the inning and freshman designated hitter Caitlyn Brooks ripped a double to right-center field to put runners on second and third as sophomore shortstop Morgan Reed walked to load the bases.
But the Irish could not capitalize as junior third baseman Kimmy Sullivan popped out to the shortstop and McCracken lined out to Seminoles freshman pitcher Meghan King who turned the double play, throwing out Reed at first.
Rhodes again worked her way out of a jam in the top of the fourth inning. Florida State put runners on first and second, but Rhodes notched three strikeouts in the frame to get out of the inning unscathed.
“[Rhodes] threw a great ball game, she just gave them too many runners,” Gumpf said of her pitcher’s performance. “When she didn’t give them runners, she dominated them, and she did a great job.”
Not to be outdone in creating scoring opportunities, the Irish found themselves with runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the frame, but King got Irish senior first baseman Micaela Arizmendi to foul out to third base and the game remained knotted at one.
Notre Dame broke the tie in the bottom of the fifth, however. Brooks started the frame with a bloop single and was replaced by a pinch runner, senior infielder Carly Piccinich. The substitution proved to be important as Piccinich stole second on a pass ball. The next batter, Reed, beat out a throw at first base to put runners on the corners with no outs.
Sullivan singled to left to put the Irish ahead 2-1, and then, with two outs, sophomore left fielder Bailey Bigler cracked a triple to center field to score Reed and Sullivan, as the Irish exited the inning with three runs to lead 4-1.
Yet, the Seminoles came roaring back though, in the top of the sixth inning as junior second baseman Ellie Cooper lined a three-run triple along the first-base line to tie the game at four.
But the Irish would have the last say in the decisive seventh inning. Sullivan singled to lead off the inning, and Sorlie singled two batters later to set up Bigler with the opportunity to win the game with two outs.
And Bigler came through with a bloop single to center field, scoring Sullivan and winning the game for the Irish.
“I really just wanted to work on keeping the inning going and just make solid contact and do whatever I could to help my team out,” Bigler said. “I think it’s a big boost for us, after coming back from some tough losses, we worked really well as a team after that first loss today.”
After taking down the ACC-leading Seminoles, the Irish next take on IUPUI Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Melissa Cook Stadium.