Irish pick up series win over No. 14 NC State
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Notre Dame baseball recorded a big series win over No. 14 NC State in Frank Eck Stadium this weekend. The series was part of the seventh annual “Strikeout ALS” weekend in honor of Pete Frates, a former captain of Boston College’s baseball team under current Irish head coach and former Eagles head coach Mik Aoki. Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS, started the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge as part of an initiative to educate the public about the disease.
The Irish (19-23, 12-12 ACC) got off to a strong start in the series Friday night, winning the game by a score of 5-4. After both teams went three up, three down in the first inning, the Wolfpack (33-12, 14-10) broke open the scoring in the top of the second. However, Notre Dame responded immediately, as sophomore catcher David LaManna stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. He then singled up the middle, scoring junior first baseman Daniel Jung. Two batters later, sophomore center fielder Spencer Myers recorded an RBI as he was walked, allowing senior right fielder Eric Gilgenbach to score, giving the Irish a 2-1 lead.
After a scoreless third inning, freshman catcher Luca Tresh homered for the Wolfpack to tie the game at two in the top of the fourth. However, Notre Dame responded once more as sophomore shortstop Jared Miller homered himself to give the Irish the lead once more. NC State sophomore left fielder Jonny Butler then smacked a two-run home run in the next inning to put the Wolfpack on top once again, but the Irish would not surrender.
In the bottom of the seventh, freshman left fielder Jack Zyska doubled to left center, scoring Myers and freshman left fielder Zack Prajzner. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Tommy Vail then stepped in and recorded the save for the Irish, giving up zero hits and recording four strikeouts, including a three up, three down ninth inning to end the game early for the Irish.
The second game did not go as favorably for the Irish, as they fell to the Wolfpack 4-2. Both teams struggled out of the gate before Notre Dame finally broke open the scoring in the bottom of the fourth on a Gilgenbach single that drove Jung home. It would maintain the lead until NC State freshman center fielder Tyler McDonough doubled in the top of the sixth, recording three RBIs in the process.
On the very next batter the Wolfpack scored once more to go up 4-1. The Irish couldn’t manage another run until the bottom of the ninth as Myers scored Gilgenbach on a single down the left side. Then, sophomore third baseman Niko Kavadas stepped up to the plate with two outs, the bases loaded and a chance to prolong the game or win it for the Irish. However, with a 1-2 count Kavadas made contact but was thrown out at first base to end the game.
In the final game Sunday, Notre Dame rebounded from the previous day’s loss and took the series with a decisive 4-1 victory. The Wolfpack carried the momentum from their victory to start the final game, recording two hits and going up 1-0 in the top of the first inning. However, Notre Dame shut NC State down for the remainder of the game behind solid pitching from Vail, junior left-handed pitcher Cameron Brown and sophomore right-handed pitcher Joe Boyle.
It wasn’t until the bottom of the fifth inning that the Irish got on the board, as Prajzner scored Miller to record an RBI. Notre Dame then took over in the bottom of the sixth, as they loaded the bases and scored three consecutive runs off three consecutive batters to take a 4-1 lead. NC State could not find anything offensively, recording zero hits in the final two innings. Vail recorded yet another save, striking out three straight batters in the top of the ninth to give the Irish the win.
Next up, Notre Dame will face the University of Illinois at Chicago in a one-game series Tuesday. The Flames (18-19, 11-9 Horizon League) have lost four straight games and six of their last seven, and have gone only 5-14 on the road. Notre Dame will likely use the contest as a tune-up game to prepare for the following series against No. 7 Louisville. First pitch is scheduled at 6 p.m.