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Monday, Feb. 26, 2024
The Observer

Irish bounce back after dropping weekend series to Syracuse

The Irish headed to Syracuse, New York this weekend to face the Syracuse Orange in a three-game ACC series, with one game Friday and a doubleheader Saturday.

Ultimately, Notre Dame (21-12, 4-5 ACC) dropped two out of three on the weekend, and the Orange (14-19, 4-5 ACC) kept up their hot streak and have now won five of their last six.

The Friday game opened with a relatively uneventful first two innings, with both teams collecting a hit. The third inning opened with a walk by junior right fielder Alexis Bazos. Bazos then advanced to second off of a single by senior left fielder Ali Wester. Bazos then scored after senior designated hitter Caitlyn Brooks singled. The Irish managed to advance Wester and Brooks on a sacrifice fly by sophomore center fielder Abby Sweet, and senior third baseman Melissa Rochford loaded the bases by drawing a walk. Unfortunately, with the bases loaded, the Irish were unable to add another run, as senior first baseman M.K. Bonamy struck out to end the inning.

The Irish maintained a 1-0 lead up until the fifth inning, when the Orange managed to string a few hits and walks together, scoring two runs. The Irish went into the sixth inning down 2-1, looking to regain the lead, but were unable to gain any momentum, with the only offensive production coming from a single by Rochford. Syracuse exploded in the bottom of the sixth, scoring a total of seven runs, on their way to their 9-1 victory. Syracuse senior shortstop Alicia Hansen and sophomore first baseman Alex Acevedo combined to drive in six runs on the day while going 3-for-8 at the plate.

In the loss, the Notre Dame offense was unable to get anything going. The team combined for just four hits on the game.

Alexis Hernandez | The Observer
Irish senior third baseman Melissa Rochford digs in at the plate in a contest against Louisville on March 23. Notre Dame won both games of the doubleheader that day by a score of 9-1.

After Friday’s loss, Notre Dame looked to shake the offensive woes that plagued them in the first game, and take both games of the Saturday doubleheader to win the series.

The first game of the day started with an early Syracuse lead, as the Orange scored three runs in the first inning. Rochford cut the deficit to three by homering in the second. Syracuse scored again in the third, raising the score to 4-1.

In the fourth inning, the Irish offense was able to finally get something going, as junior second baseman Katie Marino and Brooks, who was substituted by freshman pinch runner Anna Grace Wagner, both drew walks. Sweet reached base after a fielder’s choice, loading the bases. Marino, Wagner and Sweet all managed to score off of a combination of hits and defensive miscues by Syracuse, tying the game at 4-4. Both teams traded blows in the fifth, adding two runs apiece.

The Irish were able to regain the lead in the sixth off of a long two-run home run to right field by Marino. Freshman pitcher Payton Tidd shut the door on the Orange, giving up two hits in two-and-a-third scoreless innings of relief, and the Irish won the first game of the double header 8-6, tying the series at a game apiece.

Unfortunately, Tidd was unable to carry her momentum into the second game of the double header, which she started on the bump. Tidd loaded the bases before giving up a grand slam to Syracuse third baseman Lailoni Mayfield, putting the Irish down 4-0. Tidd then gave up two more hits before being pulled after only a third of an inning of work. Syracuse managed to add another run off of the Irish pitcher, sophomore Morgan Ryan, who came in relief of Tidd.

Down 5-0, the Irish went into the second inning determined to chip away at the Orange lead. Bonamy was able to do so, driving the ball deep over the fence in left center field in the top of the second inning. Ryan threw a scoreless bottom of the second inning, keeping the Syracuse lead in check.

Notre Dame continued to chip away in the third inning. The inning opened with walks by Marino and Brooks, and the duo then executed a beautiful double steal, putting two runners in scoring position. Both were able to score off of a hard hit double down the first baseline by Rochford. Two batters later, Rochford scored off of a double by freshman short stop Quinn Biggio, bringing the Irish within one of the Orange.

Unfortunately, Notre Dame would have to continue to chase Syracuse, as they added three more runs in the third inning. The Irish continued to cut away at the Orange lead, when Marino scored on a Rochford single, making the score 8-5 in favor of the Orange. Both teams went scoreless until the top of the seventh, when the Irish began a rally. With one out, Biggio got the rally started by hitting a home run. The Irish added two more singles after the homer, but were unable to capitalize, falling in the second game of the doubleheader by a final score of 8-6.

Looking to bounce back from the disappointing weekend with their coming home stand, the squad faced IUPUI on Tuesday, ultimately prevailing in six innings by a score of 8-0. While the game remained scoreless over the course of the first two innings, junior infielder Katie Marino broke the scoring open in the the third inning with a towering two-run shot to left field. Marino was the most productive Irish batter on the day, scoring two runs herself and driving in three while going one-for-one at the plate. Marino is tied for second on the team in RBIs with 27 and her batting average is fourth on the team at .344. Rochford and junior catcher Madison Heide both went two-for-three on the day while driving in a run each.

Tidd picked up her 12th win of the season in the contest, moving her overall record to 12-5 on the year. Tidd threw five scoreless innings, sacrificing just one hit while striking out six IUPUI batters. Tidd's ERA on the season is now an impressive 2.70, and the freshman has struck out 90 total batters over 90 and 1/5 innings of work.

The Irish will continue their home stand and host their ninth-annual Strikeout Cancer weekend with an ACC series against a struggling Boston College team this upcoming weekend, April 5-7. The Irish and Eagles meet for game one of the series on Friday, April 5 at 5 p.m. with a post-game home run derby. Action begins at noon on both Saturday and Sunday.