Charlie Vorsheck, Kyle Fiala edge Notre Dame past Northwestern, 3-2
Zach Klonsinski | Wednesday, May 3, 2017
It was the Charlie Vorsheck show for much of Tuesday night at Frank Eck Stadium as Notre Dame downed Northwestern, 3-2, in nonconference action.
After conceding a two-out RBI double in the first inning, the junior righty sat down the next 14 Northwestern hitters in order.
“I had no clue until right now, actually,” Vorsheck said. “I had no clue. To be honest, I just try to get myself back into the dugout, and once I get back on the dugout bench, it’s just, ‘Alright, let’s get through one more. Let’s get through one more.’”
“It was just a groove,” Irish senior catcher Ryan Lidge added. “Charlie gets into a groove, and I don’t really think about it. I just say, ‘There’s another one.’
“That’s cool to hear.”
After Northwestern (17-26, 6-9 Big Ten) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, sophomore second baseman Nick Podkul pulled Notre Dame (23-23, 10-14 ACC) even with one swing of the bat. The Irish leadoff hitter cleared the hedge beyond the fence in left field to tie the game.
Notre Dame was not done, though. Senior third baseman Kyle Fiala singled to center and then Lidge brought him home and gave the Irish the 2-1 lead with a triple down the right-field line after the outfield dove but could not quite reach the ball.
It was the catcher’s second official three-bagger of his career, both of which came in the last eight days.
“It’s a little bit of luck,” Lidge said. “Two of them were taken away from me before in my career — one because of an error, one because the game was called due to fog. So that triple might have been because the fielder didn’t see the ball, but I’ll take the two triples in the last week or so.”
“Pigs are gonna fly,” Irish head coach Mik Aoki quipped.
Fiala crossed the plate again in the third inning, this time thanks to his own bat. His deep fly ball just cleared the left-field fence and a leaping Northwestern outfielder to double the Irish lead.
That was all Vorsheck needed.
Wildcat freshman second baseman Alex Erro finally broke Vorsheck’s streak on a one-out double in the sixth. With runners on first and second and two outs, Vorsheck induced a groundout to Fiala at third to end the inning.
“I felt like I made some good pitches, and they put some good swings on them,” Vorsheck said of the first inning. “I finally found my rhythm in the second inning. I felt good with my fastball. It was a struggle all game with my breaking ball, so just pounding the fast ball, keeping it low in the zone, working it in and out was good for me.”
“I love catching Charlie because he just pounds the zone,” Lidge said. “When he goes out there, I expect him to throw a lot of strikes and some hitters to get themselves out. He’s not going to throw it by you, but he’s going to make the good pitch.”
It was Vorsheck’s third career start, all coming during midweek action. During those three starts, he’s given up two runs (only one of which was earned) in 17 2/3 innings of work.
“I think it’s really a big deal,” Aoki said of Vorsheck’s recent comfort as the team’s primary mid-week starter. “Last year, with having [graduate student lefty] Michael Hearne in that role for a good chunk of the season, it was really nice to be able to go out there and have a feeling of what it was you were going to get.
“We’re getting much the same with Charlie, and in these midweeks, the ability to have some stability there can’t be overstated. I commented about a week ago how nice it is to just be able to go into a midweek and not feel like you’re just scrambling to get you’re pitching there. I think it’s a really valuable asset to have.”
After allowing just one run and three hits while striking out five batters in six innings of work, Vorsheck gave way to junior righty Peter Solomon to start the seventh inning.
Solomon sandwiched a walk between a strikeout and a pair of strikeouts in the seventh, then he whiffed the first Northwestern batter of the eighth before yielding to Irish junior closer Sean Guenther.
The lefty, who has not allowed an earned run since March 24 (26 innings), watched Erro reach on an error by sophomore Cole Daily at short. Wildcat senior designated hitter Joe Hoschiet singled in Erro later in the inning for an unearned run, but Guenther induced a double-play ball from senior right fielder Matt Hopfner to escape the inning with the lead.
Guenther struck out the side in the ninth to record his sixth save of the season while the win pushed Vorsheck to 4-0 on the year.
Notre Dame welcomes No. 2 Louisville to Frank Eck Stadium this weekend. The Cardinals (39-6, 18-4) currently lead the ACC standings, powered by star junior pitcher/first baseman dual threat Brenden McKay whom Aoki said “might be the best player in the country.”
“They’re really good,” Aoki said flatly. “ … We have to play at a really high level. So far I think we’ve done a good job, and I think our pitching gives us a chance against anybody.”
The Irish and Cardinals take to the Frank Eck Stadium turf Friday at 6:05 p.m., Saturday at 4:05 p.m. and Sunday at 1:05 p.m.