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Irish drop opening series against Sun Devils in Phoenix

| Monday, February 18, 2019

Entering the 2019 baseball season, Irish head coach Mik Aoki said he hoped to see growth from his pitching staff. Following a grueling 2018 season that saw Notre Dame post a combined 5.87 earned run average (ERA) as a team, the Irish (0-3) had room for improvement in 2019.

In the first series of the season, the Notre Dame pitching staff was torched to the tune of 46 runs, 31 of which were earned, in 24 innings by Arizona State. The pitching staff surrendered a combined 11.63 ERA in the opening series.

Tommy Sheehan took the mound to start on opening night, and the sophomore pitched a clean first inning against the Sun Devils (3-0). Arizona State jumped all over Sheehan in his second inning of work, tagging him for four runs and jumping out to an insurmountable lead. Sheehan finished his night after 2 2/3 innings of work in which he allowed five runs on four hits and three walks. Only one run charged to Sheehan was earned.

Relievers junior Zack Martin, freshman Aidan Tyrell and sophomore Brian Morrell combined to pitch four innings during which the Sun Devils only scored one run. However, fellow pitcher, junior Anthony Holubecki, allowed four runs to complete the 10-1 routing.

On Saturday night, senior Cameron Brown quickly surrendered three earned runs in the first inning, but then settled down to post two clean innings of work. In the fourth, Brown induced two outs from the first three batters, but issued a walk to Sun Devils left fielder Trevor Hauver. After hitting another Sun Devil with a pitch, Brown was pulled from the game for junior reliever Andrew Belcik. Belcik allowed a single to the first batter he faced, and Hauver came around to score.

Six bullpen arms combined to allow 16 runs, 10 earned in only 4 1/3 innings of work. Tyrell worked another scoreless inning, his second of the weekend.

The Irish outfield of Ryan Cole, Eric Gilgenbach and Spencer Myers sparked the offense, combining for five hits, two RBI and four runs for the Irish in game two.

In the series finale on Sunday, the Sun Devils completed the sweep of the Irish, posting another 16 runs in the effort. Junior Cameron Junker was quickly tagged for two earned runs after Arizona State junior outfielder Hunter Bishop slugged a two-run home run to right center field. Junker failed to go deep in the game, giving up seven runs, five earned in only 2 2/3 innings on the hill.

Sophomore Cole Kmet rebounded from an ugly appearance on Saturday night to pitch a clean eighth inning in the series finale. Kmet, who also plays tight end for the Irish football team, completed eight saves in 2018 to lead the team.

The Irish finished the weekend 0-3 against the Sun Devils. They will go back on the road next weekend to take on Eastern Michigan and Incarnate Word in the 2019 Alamo Irish Classic in San Antonio.

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