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Notre Dame baseball tops Butler 4-0

| Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Notre Dame baseball continued its strong homestand with a shutout victory over visiting Butler on Tuesday afternoon. Beneath sharp blue skies and a crowd of 319 at Frank Eck Stadium, the Irish topped the Bulldogs by a 4-0 score. 

The Irish pitching staff was excellent while helping Notre Dame improve to a perfect 4-0 in midweek contests. After starting last Friday’s game against Louisville, junior Jackson Dennies again took the hill for the Irish. Dennies had his best performance of the season, striking out six of 12 batters faced across four innings of no-hit ball.

After Dennies sat down the first three batters of the game, the Irish came to the plate and looked, at first, as if they were going to run away with the game. Butler starting pitcher Jon Vore issued a four-pitch walk to sophomore infielder Jack Penney, then graduate infielder Zack Prajzner singled Penney to third base to put the Irish in scoring position right away. With graduate outfielder Jack Zyska at the plate and second base empty, Prajzner attempted to steal. The throw by Bulldog catcher Kollyn All ricocheted into center field, allowing Penney to score the game’s first run. Prajzner advanced to third on the play and was brought home by Zyska’s sacrifice fly. 

Notre Dame led 2-0 after the first inning of play, but that scoring pace would not continue. The bats went quiet for both the Bulldogs and the Irish for the ensuing four innings. Dennies continued to make quick work of Butler through the fourth inning, when the Irish opted to make a pitching change. To start the fifth inning, the Irish brought in graduate left-handed pitcher Aidan Tyrell, who would work the next four innings. 

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, went with a different approach. Substituting in a new pitcher at the beginning of each inning, Butler was able to stymie the Irish offense for a short time. Relief pitchers Dawson Taylor, Cole Graverson, Gabe Pancratz and Nick Miketinac combined for six strikeouts and only allowed one hit over their four innings of work.

In the sixth inning, Bulldog head coach Blake Beemer turned to Colin Davis out of the bullpen to face the top of the Irish lineup. After getting Prajzner to ground out, Davis worked himself into a jam. He hit Zyska with a pitch, issued a walk to graduate infielder Carter Putz, and then hit another batter— graduate outfielder Brooks Coetzee III — to load the bases.

That gave junior catcher Danny Neri the chance to double the Irish lead. Neri made good on his opportunity, sneaking a sharply hit ground ball through the hole between first and second bases to drive in two. 

Davis would bring an end to the Irish scoring chance by inducing a line out to short from junior outfielder TJ Williams, who was pinch-hitting, and striking out freshman infielder Estevan Moreno. The two insurance runs proved to be all Notre Dame would need, though.

With Tyrell dealing on the hill, Butler was unable to generate any offense in response. Tyrell gave up only two hits and struck out four while working from the fifth inning to the the end of eighth. He gave way to freshman Caden Spivey, who sat the top of the Bulldogs lineup down in order to seal the victory in the ninth.

Butler falls to 5-19 with the loss, while Notre Dame improves to 13-9. The Irish now turn their attention to a looming weekend series against No. 13 North Carolina. The Tar Heels will travel to South Bend to play the Irish in a three-game set beginning Friday, with first pitch set for 6 p.m.

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