Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame baseball tops Western Michigan

Notre Dame baseball edged out a midweek win over Western Michigan, 2-1, on Wednesday evening at Frank Eck Stadium. In the low-scoring game, both teams tallied five hits. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Ricky Reeth picked up the win with four innings in relief. His fifth appearance of the season, it was Reeth’s best — he shut out the Broncos in the game’s back four innings, allowed no hits and struck out five.

Irish starter David Lally Jr. looked to be cruising early, as he set down the first two batters of the game in short succession. But Lally quickly got himself in trouble, allowing hits to freshman second-baseman Grady Mee and junior first-baseman Cade Sullivan. He then loaded the bases by hitting senior third-baseman Gavin Doyle with a pitch in the next at-bat. 

Lally was able to work himself out of the jam without allowing a run by striking out shortstop Jimmy Allen. He was not so fortunate in the second inning, though, when Western Michigan scored the game’s first run. Just like the first frame, Lally made two quick outs before getting into some difficulty. Nine-hitter Greg Budig doubled on a line drive to right, turning the line up over for Jackson Kitchen. Kitchen followed Budig’s lead, singling on a hard ground ball up the middle. Budig came around from second base to score, and the Broncos were on the board. 

Lally would work through the third inning, ending his day with five hits allowed, one walk and four strikeouts. It was his fourth start of the season.

Western Michigan’s starting pitcher Luke Thelen had a strong outing, throwing 111 pitches across six innings. He benefited from an Irish offense that struggled with runners in scoring position this afternoon.

As much was evident in the first inning, when the Irish had the bases loaded but were unable to score a run. Thelen’s night did not start as strongly as it finished, and he issued three free-passes in order to load the bases. In the second inning, he hit Irish right-fielder Brady Gumpf and walked second-baseman Nick DeMarco, but struck out the other three batters he faced to again hold the Irish scoreless.

Notre Dame was able to tie the score in the third, benefiting from another base-loaded situation. With one out, Irish sophomore Jack Penney hit a hard ground ball to Bronco second-baseman Mee. The ball shorthopped, and Mee was unable to handle it as it caromed into center field. With Penney aboard, designated hitter Vincent Martinez dropped a perfectly placed single to right field. Sophomore DM Jefferson flew out, but junior Danny Neri was hit by a pitch, and the bases were again loaded. Gumpf stepped into the box with a chance to plate the first Notre Dame run — but he never got the opportunity. Thelen sent a wild pitch to the backstop, and Penney scurried home from third to tie the game.

With the game tied, Thelen was able to settle in and work through the sixth without allowing another run despite traffic on the bases in each inning. Thelen struck out nine and only allowed one extra base hit, but he hit four Irish batsmen.

In relief for Notre Dame, Justin Moore worked the fourth and fifth innings before giving way to Reeth. Moore faced eight batters, striking out three and walking two.

The Irish plated the game’s winning run in the eighth inning. Martinez walked and was substituted out for pinch runner Brooks Coetzee, who came around the score. Coetzee advanced to second on a walk to Jefferson and to third on another walk to Neri. Gumpf delivered the winning run, with a long sacrifice fly to the warning track in left field. 

The Irish return home Friday evening for game three of a five-game week. Notre Dame hosts No. 8 Virginia at Frank Eck Stadium for three games, with Friday’s game starting at 6 p.m.