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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
The Observer

Tri-campus sports update: Saints end postseason journeys, baseball to begin tournament run

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Max Petrosky/Observer
Notre Dame shortstop Zack Prajzner (14) prepares for an at-bat during the game between Notre Dame and Akron at Frank Eck Stadium on May 12, 2023.


Commencement and the 2022-23 school year are officially in the rearview mirror. There is, however, still quite a bit of action across tri-campus sports — and some more to come. While the Irish softball season came to a close Saturday in the NCAA Regionals for the 24th straight season, the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team will advance to the NCAA Tournament Final Four after defeating Johns Hopkins on Sunday. Here are a few more storylines from the last week of tri-campus athletics.

Baseball drops two of three in final regular season series

After a slow start gave way to an excellent mid-season run, the Irish baseball team has struggled down the stretch. In the wake of a stunning loss to lowly Northwestern at Wrigley Field on May 16, Notre Dame dropped its final two games of the regular season after taking the series opener against Boston College. That included another trip to an iconic MLB ballpark, as Notre Dame’s 8-4 loss in the second half of Friday’s doubleheader came at the Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park. The contest was the Eagles’ 11th Annual ALS Awareness game.

The weekend could not have started much better for the Irish. Graduate student Aidan Tyrell tossed six innings of one-run ball, continuing his stellar season. The Irish struck for single runs in the fourth and fifth innings on a sacrifice fly by junior outfielder Brady Gumpf and an RBI single by graduate student infielder Carter Putz, respectively. An RBI double by freshman infielder Estevan Moreno and a sacrifice fly by graduate student infielder Zack Prajzner put the Irish comfortably in front.

However, Notre Dame’s pitching could not shut the Eagles down consistently over the final two games. Notre Dame’s 15 runs allowed in the final two games were tied for the most the Irish have yielded in consecutive games to the same ACC foe all season.

The Eagles launched a pair of long balls in both of Friday’s contests. In both games, one big inning made the difference for Boston College. The Eagles scored four runs in the third inning in the first game Friday to decisively break a 1-1 tie. At Fenway, the Eagles scored six times in the fifth to turn a tight 2-1 game into a laugher. Eagles cleanup hitter Joe Vetrano delivered the biggest blow of the weekend: a grand slam in that frame to give Boston College the lead for good.

The Irish finish the regular season with a 30-22 record, including a 15-15 mark in ACC play. The Irish will head to Durham, North Carolina, for the ACC Tournament as the No. 8 seed. The team’s first game is Wednesday at 11 a.m. against Pitt, followed by a clash with Wake Forest on Friday at 7 p.m. The Irish went 2-1 in the regular season against the Panthers and 1-2 against Wake.

Saints men’s, women’s tennis go one-and-done at NAIA Tournament

Both the Holy Cross men’s and women’s tennis teams made history this year, each winning its first conference title. Earning that accolade also sent both teams to the NAIA Tournament for the first time in their history.

Unfortunately, both had difficult initial forays into the national tournament. With over two weeks of rest for both squads, the Saints earned just one point across both of their matches. The women’s team was eliminated with a 4-0 loss to No. 15 Loyola University on the morning of May 16, in Mobile, Alabama. A few hours later, the No. 14 College of Coastal Georgia defeated the men’s team by a 4-1 final. The Saints’ lone point of both tournaments came courtesy of a doubles victory for sophomore Ciaran McCarthy and junior Bruno Sentkar. The pair beat Ramon Martinez Fererr and Felix Arroyo Viglino by a 6-1 margin.

Politte fails to make NAIA Championship cut

Freshman Matthew Politte also came out rusty in the men’s golf NAIA Championship, which began 21 days after Politte won a playoff in the CCAC Conference Championship to reach the national stage. Politte was one of 155 individuals to compete on the national stage at Las Sendas Golf Club in Mesa, Arizona. Politte shot 93 in his first round, making it one of, if not his worst of the season. Though Politte bounced back to shoot 76 in the second round, it wasn’t enough for him to recover and be one of the 95 golfers to make the cut.