Notre Dame drops series to No. 19 Virginia, returns home for 13 game stand
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, April 25, 2017
In a three game series this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, Notre Dame was able to walk away with one victory, but ultimately lost a tough series to No. 19 Virginia. The Irish (18-22, 8-13 ACC) continued to show their struggles on the road as they moved to 4-12 in away games on the year.
In game one of the double header Friday, Notre Dame did gain the early lead as they went up 2-0 in the top of the first thanks to sophomore second baseman Nick Podkul who had a lead-off homer to start the game. Four batters later, senior Ryan Lidge picked up a RBI single, to drive in sophomore center-fielder Matt Vierling, who had doubled.
But the dangerous Virginia offense wasted no time in tying the game up in the bottom half of the inning, and the Cavaliers (33-10, 12-9) would continue to pile it on as they scored in each of their first four innings at the dish. Irish starter, junior right-hander Brandon Bielak gave up eight runs in just three innings, and though Notre Dame scored two more in the seventh, in the end it was too little, too late as they dropped game one 14-4.
But in game two on Friday, fortunes reversed for the Irish as graduate student left-hander Michael Hearne did a tremendous job on the bump, holding Virginia’s potent bats to just a pair of runs over eight innings of work, including carrying a no-hitter into the sixth en-route to a 8-2 win, Notre Dame’s first over a ranked team this season.
At the plate, the Irish matched their strong start in the first game by jumping out front early when freshman first-baseman Daniel Jung hit a three-run home run in the third inning. Vierling continued his strong day with a 4-5 performance and three RBIs of his own.
When things wrapped up on Saturday afternoon, Notre Dame was unfortunately unable to walk away victors in the rubber match, falling by a score of 9-0. Playing their third game in less than 24 hours, the Irish were unable to get the bats to carry over from game two. Although Vierling continued his tear by going 3-4 with a double in game 3 and 7-13 for the series, the Irish only managed two other hits on the day, and leadoff man Podkul saw his 27-game on base streak come to a close on the day. Junior right-hander Brad Bass, who started for the Irish, only managed to last 2.2 innings, as the Virginia offense came back to life with six in the first and another three in the third. But Notre Dame’s bullpen stymied the Cavaliers over the final 6.1 innings, only giving up five hits in a bright spot for the team.
After walking away 1-2 for the weekend, the Irish now sit at 8-13 in conference play, but things could be turning around sooner than later. Beginning with Valparaiso on Tuesday, the Irish begin a 13 game home stand at Frank Eck Stadium, where Notre Dame is 10-4 on the season. Following the game against the Crusaders (16-22, 6-10 Horizon), The Irish play again Wednesday against Eastern Michigan before heading into a weekend series with Duke.
First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. on Tuesday, as the Irish look to spark a run to get back to .500 for the year.