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Irish drop 2-straight at home, extend losing streak to 4

| Friday, April 12, 2019

On Tuesday night, Notre Dame picked up its third-straight loss as it hosted Michigan State at Frank Eck Stadium, followed by a home loss to Western Michigan on Wednesday night.

Against the Spartans, the Irish (12-19, 7-8 ACC) came out swinging on offense. In the bottom of the third, sophomore center fielder Spencer Myers reached first base on a defensive error by the Spartans (8-22, 0-5). In the following at-bat, Myers was able to steal second base as Michigan State walked sophomore third baseman Niko Kavadas, and a sacrifice bunt from freshman designated hitter Carter Putz put both base runners in scoring position. Senior right fielder Eric Gilgenbach grounded out to bring Myers home and give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.

Allison Thornton | The Observer
Irish sophomore Spencer Myers swings at a pitch during Notre Dame’s 3-1 loss to Florida State on March 24.

Sophomore southpaw Tommy Vail, in his second career start, retired 10-straight batters to start the game — tying a career high — before giving up a walk to Michigan State junior designated hitter Bailey Peterson in the top of the fourth inning. Vail managed to retire the side in the next two batters, though, and left the game after the fourth without allowing a hit, walking one batter and striking out three Spartans.

In the bottom of the fifth, Kavadas extended the Irish lead to 2-0 with a solo home run, his 10th for the season, which doubled his previous career-high of five home runs in a season. However, the Spartans were able to answer in the next frame. In the top of the sixth, junior right-handed pitcher Andrew Belcik gave up a home run to sophomore Michigan State pinch hitter Adam Proctor, cutting the Notre Dame lead in half.

The Spartans offense rallied in the top of the seventh inning with an RBI-double evening the score. An Irish error allowed another Michigan State run, and the Spartans finished the inning with a 3-2 lead over the Irish, causing Notre Dame to bring in sophomore righty Joe Boyle to relieve Belcik in the top of the eighth. While Boyle was able to prevent the Spartans from scoring in the final two innings, the Irish were unable to make a comeback, resulting in Michigan State handing Notre Dame its third-consecutive loss by a score of 3-2.

Irish head coach Mik Aoki said the Irish need to be better at the plate to compete against strong competition.

“We certainly need to have better at-bats,” Aoki said. “Through the course of the day, we gave away at-bat after at-bat. It’s tough when you have three guys in the lineup giving you pretty decent at-bats and the rest of them are slightly unproductive.”

The Irish failed to make a comeback as they hosted Western Michigan the next night, falling 12-2 to the Broncos (9-20, 2-5 Mid-American).

Western Michigan immediately jumped out to a hot start, taking advantage of two walks and a hit batter from junior righty Zack Martin to plate four runners in the first inning. A double from Kavadas allowed Myers to score in the bottom of the first. Although junior right-handed pitcher Jack Sheehan relieved Martin midway through the top of the second, the Broncos were still able to bring in five more runs by the end of the frame, bringing the score to 9-2 with a combination of singles and triples.

Western Michigan kept its momentum going from there, scoring two more runs in the top of the third and capped off its scoring with its 12th run in the final frame of the game. Notre Dame managed to bring in one more run on an RBI-single that plated sophomore shortstop Jared Miller in the fourth, but the Irish couldn’t get their bats going beyond that and dropped their fourth-straight game to the Broncos, 12-2.

Notre Dame will look to rebound during a three-game series at home against North Carolina this weekend. The Irish will take on the Tar Heels starting Friday at 6 p.m. in Frank Eck Stadium followed by games at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

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