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Kerschner leads Notre Dame to win over Chicago State

| Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Chris Collins | The Observer
Irish senior outfielder Alex Kerschner takes a pitch during notre Dame’s 4-1 loss to Kent State on Mar. 27 at Frank Eck Stadium. Kerschner was a single shy of the cycle against Chicago State on Tuesday night and finished with five RBIs in Notre Dame’s 18-4 win.

In a game marred by rainy weather, Notre Dame was able to come out with a win in blowout fashion, defeating Chicago State by a score of 18-4 on Tuesday night at Frank Eck Stadium. For the Irish (12-16, 4-8 ACC), the victory was a helpful turnaround after the team was swept this past weekend during a road trip to Duke.

Offense was everything for the Irish during the contest, and it came early and often, with Notre Dame posting four runs in just the first inning. Partially at fault was the rainy weather and sloppy defense by the Cougars, who committed five errors on the night as well. But the Irish bats were also red-hot, led by senior left fielder Alex Kerschner, who was the main catalyst with a two-run single in the first and who finished the game just a home run shy of the cycle, collecting five RBIs throughout the night.

Chicago State was able to tack on a couple themselves in the third inning when senior right fielder Matt Paciello put one over the fence in left field off sophomore pitcher Cameron Brown, but Notre Dame responded in the bottom half of the inning when Kerschner, freshman designated hitter Niko Kavadas, junior right fielder Eric Gilgenbach and sophomore first baseman Daniel Jung all collected a string of hits that resulted in three runs for the Irish and gave them a 7-2 lead heading to the fourth. Afterwards, head coach MiK Aoki commented on the performance of his team at the plate where the bats came alive.

“I thought it was good. We had a difficult weekend, so it was nice to bounce back,” Aoki said. It was nice to play at home and I thought we swung the bats pretty well which is always good.”

After roughly three innings of work at the pitcher’s mound by sophomores Anthony Holubecki and Jack Sheehan, classmate Andrew Belcik was able to close things out in the ninth to secure the easy win for the Irish. The offense stayed consistent throughout the entire ballgame, as Notre Dame scored two or more runs in seven different innings, and the 18 runs scored marked the team’s highest total since February of 2011 when the Irish put up 19 against Purdue. Aoki was happy with his team’s performance and recognized the importance of Tuesday’s game as hopefully a springboard for upcoming conference matchups.

“You feel like you have the ship righted as you head into another difficult weekend in the ACC against a really good opponent in Clemson,” Aoki said. “I think it was important to get back in the win column, but also the thing I try to emphasize with the team is that when we were down at Duke, we played 27 innings of baseball and 24 of them were really good … We weren’t that far away, we just have to figure out a way when the game is hanging in the balance to just play a little more to who we have been the vast majority of the rest of the weekend.”

Moving forward, Notre Dame will play host to Clemson this upcoming weekend in a three game series looking to improve upon their start in conference play. Before that, however, the Irish have exhibition match Wednesday against the South Bend Cubs at Four Winds Field, weather dependent. The 7-inning contest will see all proceeds go to charity, and is slated to begin at 6 p.m.

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