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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
The Observer

Irish post winning record on road trip, take two series from conference foes

The Irish continued their lengthy stretch of early-season road games over spring break, traveling to the Carolinas for seven games in 10 days.

Over the course of the road trip, the Irish (8-10, 4-2 ACC) opened conference play and clinched two series against ACC opponents.

Notre Dame opened the break with a trip to Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to kick off conference play. After a Friday night matchup was postponed due to rain, the Irish and the Demon Deacons (13-9, 3-3) took the field for a doubleheader Saturday afternoon.

Tommy Sheehan took the hill for the Irish in the first game of the doubleheader. The left-handed sophomore pitched around a pair of singles in the first inning and cruised through his first three innings work. Sheehan ran into trouble in the fourth inning. After Wake Forest first baseman Bobby Seymour reached on an error, Sheehan surrendered a two-run home run to designated hitter Shane Muntz. Home runs continued to plague the starting pitcher as left fielder Chris Lanzilli took Sheehan deep in the fifth and Muntz drilled his second home run of the day in the sixth.

With the Irish trailing 4-3 in the 8th inning, first baseman Daniel Jung and designated hitter Carter Putz each singled. Third baseman Niko Kavadas worked a full count before sending a home run down the right field line. The home run gave Kavadas and the Irish a 6-4 lead and led to an eventual 7-4 victory in game one.

The Irish fell in game two on Saturday by a final score of 7-4. Wake Forest jumped out to a three-run first inning off Notre Dame’s Cameron Brown. The Irish surged back with three runs of their own in the fourth inning, but Brown surrendered another run to the Demon Deacons in the bottom half of the fourth. The Irish tied the game again in the fifth inning as Daniel Jung lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, plating Ethan Copeland. Wake Forest posted a run in the seventh and two runs in the eighth off the Irish bullpen to clinch the victory in game two of the doubleheader.

Notre Dame clinched the series against Wake Forest with an 8-7 win on Sunday. The Irish trailed 7-4 in the ninth inning. Putz drove in John Arndorfer on a fielder’s choice, and senior right fielder Eric Gilgenbach brought home two more baserunners to tie the game at seven. The Irish wasted no time in extra innings, scoring a run in the 10th to take the 8-7 lead and clinch the victory.

The Irish dropped a non-conference contest against Western Carolina next. The pitching staff surrendered 16 runs to the Catamounts (10-7, 0-0 SoCon), nine of which came in the first three innings. The Irish rallied to tie the game at nine in the eighth inning, but the Catamounts posted seven runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead and the 16-9 victory.

Notre Dame wrapped up with a conference series against Clemson (15-5, 4-2 ACC). Sheehan got his second start of the road trip Friday night, and the left-hander did not disappoint. Sheehan pitched a complete game and limited No. 12 Clemson to two runs on the evening. Gilgenbach had three hits, including a home run, for the Irish in the 9-2 victory.

The Irish struggled to generate offense in a 5-1 loss to Clemson on Saturday. After starting pitcher Cameron Brown surrendered five runs in seven innings, center fielder Jack Zyska drove in the lone run for the Irish on a sacrifice fly that scored left fielder Brooks Coetzee.

Notre Dame clinched the series with an extra-inning thriller on Sunday. Starting pitcher Cameron Junker cruised through his first seven innings of work, and the Irish entered the eighth inning with a 2-0 lead.

Junker allowed a leadoff single to Clemson in the bottom of the eighth inning and struck out a Clemson batter before getting pulled for reliever Tommy Vail. Vail allowed a walk and a double to the first two batters he faced, surrendering two runs and allowing Clemson to tie the game.

In the tenth inning, a Putz single, David LaManna hit-by-pitch and Kavadas walk loaded the bases for Coetzee. Coetzee put the ball in play, and a Clemson error allowed Putz to score. Jared Miller drove in an insurance run on a fielder’s choice to give the Irish a 4-2 lead. Freshman Mitch Megias entered to pitch the bottom of the tenth for the Irish, and he allowed two hits before retiring the side and clinching the 4-2 victory.

The Irish will host Florida State this weekend for their home opener. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m.