Tensions were high in Atlanta as Notre Dame looked to rebound after a tough 2-11 road loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday night. Entering play Sunday, the Irish (11-14, 6-6 ACC) and Yellow Jackets (19-9, 7-5 ACC) split their first two games of the weekend series.
The Irish had a huge 9-6 upset win to start the series off behind sophomore left-handed pitchers Tommy Sheehan and Tommy Vail. Vail entered in the sixth inning as a relief for starting pitcher Tommy Sheehan and retired all 10 hitters he faced to seal the victory for Notre Dame.
“I just came in and did my job,” Vail said of his strong showing. “I was feeling the fastball today and didn’t have to do too much with it — just kind of let it work.”
Vail’s effort was complimented by solid nights of hitting from freshman infielder Carter Putz, who was three-for-four on the day with a three-run homer, senior outfielder Eric Gilgenbach also added a three-run blast, and sophomore infielder Niko Kavadas went three-for-five while driving in three runs.
However, the Irish did not see the same success the following day against the Yellow Jackets, suffering an 11-2 loss as the Yellow Jackets received strong performances from junior catcher Kyle McCann, who had three RBIs on the day, junior first baseman Tristin English added another two RBIs, sophomore outfielder Colin Hall, who sent a two-run jack into the seats, and sophomore infielder Oscar Serratos, who was two-for-three on the day to go along with two RBIs of his own.
Notre Dame looked to take the series with a win Sunday, but fell short in their comeback effort in an 8-7 loss. After a strong first inning by Georgia Tech, the Irish had their work cut out for them in trying to erase a five-run deficit. The Irish were able to get on the board after three innings. After starting the innings with two walks to sophomore catcher David LaManna and senior infielder Jake Singer, freshman outfielder Jack Zyska was able to execute the sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third, and LaManna scored off a groundout to second by sophomore infielder Spencer Myers.
The Irish gained more ground in the fifth inning after fielding errors were able to send Singer to second base, and a single to center field by Zyska drove Singer home. Then a perfect bunt by junior first baseman Daniel Jung scored Zyska. Strong relief pitching and some key strikeouts by junior right-handed pitcher Andrew Belcik and sophomore right-handed pitcher Joe Boyle held down the Yellow Jackets while the Irish tried to continue their comeback. Then in the seventh after a Gilgenbach single, Niko Kavadas tied the game with a two-run bomb to right field. In the eighth the Irish were able to grab the lead after a single to the left by Jung, and an infield error by Georgia Tech allowed the Notre Dame to steal two runs from the play and put them up 7-5 headed into the bottom of the eighth.
However, the comeback run was thwarted by the Yellow Jackets. After loading the bases off of two walks and a single, Georgia Tech was able to score off of a three-run double by Oscar Serratos, giving them the late lead. The Irish had a good chance to win in the ninth with great hitters Gilgenbach and Kavadas at bat to start the ninth, but unfortunately the comeback fell short in the final inning.
The Irish will have the chance to rebound against Central Michigan on Tuesday at 6 p.m.