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Notre Dame’s offense blanked in neutral-site loss to Indiana

| Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Notre Dame fell to the No. 8 Indiana on Tuesday night in Indianapolis by a final score of 3-0.

For the Irish (15-22, 6-12 ACC), sophomore right-hander Anthony Holubecki took the loss on the mound, while junior left-hander Tim Herrin got the win on the hill for the Hoosiers (27-6, 6-2 Big Ten).

It was a pitcher’s duel Tuesday night in Indianapolis, a both the Irish and the Hoosiers recorded a total of just four hits each in the contest. Sophomore right-hander Zack Martin started on the mound for the Irish and put on a stellar performance to get things going. Martin surrendered only one hit on the night when Hoosiers sophomore left fielder Matt Gorski knocked a single past third base in the bottom of the second inning. Other than that, the sophomore went four innings without allowing a run or a second hit.

Chris Collins
Irish sophomore right-hander Zack Martin delivers a pitch during Notre Dame’s 4-1 loss to Kent State on March 27 at Frank Eck Stadium.

Martin would be replaced by Holubecki in the fifth inning, and the Hoosiers managed to draw first blood an inning later in the bottom of the sixth. After walking the leadoff batter in the inning, Holubecki got the next two batters out. But with two outs and a man on third, Hoosiers junior catcher Ryan Fineman homered to left field on a fastball, giving the Hoosiers a 2-0 lead. Holubecki finished the sixth, but he was replaced by freshman left-hander Tommy Vail, who surrendered a single to the leadoff batter before the Hoosiers advanced the runner to second with a sacrifice bunt. Sophomore right-hander Andrew Belcik came in to relieve Vail after the sacrifice, and after the runner advanced to third on a wild pitch, the Hoosiers extended their lead to three on a groundout to first base. The Irish did not manage to get on the board in the final two innings to make a comeback, closing out the 3-0 game.

Despite taking the loss, Notre Dame’s pitching staff put up a good effort Tuesday night, Irish head coach Mik Aoki said.

“I thought we pitched really well,” Aoki said. “There was one pitch that, you know, that you’d like to get back from [Holubecki]. But honestly, he executed the pitch that we were trying to execute, and the kid put a good swing on it and Ryan Fineman was able to put it out of the ballpark. Outside of that, I thought we pitched really well. [Martin] pitched well, I thought [Holubecki] pitched well. You know, [with Holubecki], obviously the lead off walk isn’t great, but you know he was fine. And then, I thought Belcik, behind [Vail], pitched very well. So I thought the pitching staff did a good job tonight.”

Aoki also commended Indiana’s performance on the mound Tuesday when asked about his squad’s performance at the plate.

“I thought Indiana pitched really well,” he said. “Their starter pitched well … and then the kid [Hoosiers senior left-hander B.J] Sabol behind him pitched two good innings. We had our chances against each one of those guys … but I thought those kids pitched really well. You tip your hats to them, they did a good job. We certainly would have liked to have swung the bat a little bit better, but hitting is not easy, and their pitchers did a good job.”

In the midst of nonconference matchups in weekday games followed by weekend series, conserving pitching becomes an important part of Notre Dame’s long term approach. After the game, Aoki said he feels good about the way the pitching staff has worked out so far, and he is pleased with the rotation the squad has going.

“I thought [Tuesday] actually worked out pretty well,” he said. “[Martin] threw about 60 pitches, so he’s good to go for the weekend. Holubecki, I think, was a little over 30, so he’ll have Wednesday and Thursday off and he’ll be fine for the weekend. Belcik threw a little bit less than that, so he’ll be fine. Tommy Vail will be fine.

“We’ll have practice [Wednesday], and we’ll have some of the guys who didn’t throw [Tuesday] … they’ll throw live to some of our hitters so that they kind of stay sharp and continue their development. Conversely, the hitters can continue to see live pitching, so that if and when they’re called upon — some of those guys that haven’t gotten a ton of at bats … they’re able to see some live pitching, and they’ll continue to keep their timing and continue their development as well. I think this week actually works out pretty well. … We should be in really good shape for the weekend.”

Notre Dame will return home for a three-game series against Virginia Tech starting Friday and extending through Sunday.

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