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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer


Wild Sunday game wraps up Notre Dame series win over Miami

Irish ride quality pitching to Friday and Saturday victories before 10-inning finale

Through two games of this weekend’s Miami-Notre Dame baseball series in South Bend, strong pitching and cold weather held a cap on offensive output. Notre Dame got the better of the situation, winning 6-2 on Friday and 5-2 on Saturday to take its first home ACC set. But on Sunday, the only day on which the wind blew out, complete chaos broke out on the scoreboard. A weekend finale that featured 26 total hits ended in a 12-10, extra-inning win for Miami.

Overall, the series served as a vital bounce-back for Notre Dame. The Irish, now 14-9 overall and 2-7 in ACC play, had lost its first six conference games before taking two of three against Miami. In the opposing dugout, the Hurricanes avoided a sweep and flirtation with the Coastal Division’s basement, moving to 13-10 overall and 5-4 in league action.

Friday: Irish own second half of first ACC victory

Coming off a 16-run showing against Western Michigan, Notre Dame’s bats took a while to get going in the weekend opener. Facing a hot starting pitcher in Gage Ziehl, the Irish went hitless through four innings. In the meantime, Miami jumped ahead in the third with consecutive doubles from Jason Torres and Jack Scanlon.

Notre Dame woke up in the fifth, plating the tying run on a junior catcher Joey Spence’s first collegiate triple. On the next pitch, he crossed home with the go-ahead run on senior designated hitter Brady Gumpf’s groundout. Junior shortstop Jack Penney, who opened the two-run fifth with a single, added another three-bagger but did not score in the sixth.

The Irish would add four more runs across the next two frames, stringing three straight RBI hits together in the seventh. Run-scoring singles from senior center fielder T.J. Williams and junior first baseman Connor Hincks bookended an RBI triple from graduate left fielder David Glancy, ballooning the home lead to 5-1. Though Miami drew a run back in the eighth, Williams brought in a sixth Irish runner with his eighth-inning groundout.

Matt Bedford, Notre Dame’s steadiest starting pitcher, began the contest with a career-high 4 ⅓ innings on the mound. The senior right-hander allowed one run, striking out seven Hurricanes for another career best. In the fifth, he passed the baton to sophomore right-hander Caden Spivey, whose 2 ⅔ scoreless frames earned him his first win of the season. Finally, graduate right-hander Bennett Flynn handled the eighth and ninth innings, punching out three to close out the game.

Saturday: Radel, Reeth rally Notre Dame to series-clinching win

Game two of the series featured a 37-degree first-pitch temperature, the coldest either team has endured this season. However, it featured another simmering effort from the Irish pitching staff, which again limited Miami to two runs. Freshman right-hander Jack Radel continued his impressive introduction as a collegiate starter, conceding one run across four innings.

Though Miami’s lone run against Radel came in the first, Notre Dame quickly answered it with one after starting the game with back-to-back hit-by-pitches. Three frames later, the Irish would bust out of the 1-1 tie with a three-run fourth inning. Four consecutive Notre Dame batters reached to begin the home half, with Gumpf and freshman catcher Carson Tinney driving in runs with hits. Williams would push the Irish lead to 4-1 with a single for his third RBI of the weekend.

At that point, Radel gave way to junior right-hander Ricky Reeth on the Irish mound. The first batter he faced in the fifth, Miami leadoff hitter Edgardo Villegas, pulled a solo home run over the right-field wall. The Hurricanes then put two men aboard with one out, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate and pressurizing Reeth’s appearance. But the native Floridian escaped, rolling up a 6-4-3 double play and upholding Notre Dame’s 4-2 lead.

Reeth would use the same twin-kill trick to exit the sixth before locking down Miami the rest of the way. In the game’s final three innings, he retired nine of the 10 Hurricanes he faced, icing the visiting offense. Sophomore second baseman Estevan Moreno added an RBI double, his second two-bagger of the game, in the eighth to bring the game to its final score of 5-2.

Sunday: No lead safe in 22-run, 10-inning shootout

With Notre Dame antsy for a sweep and Miami desperate to rev up its offense, all bets were off for Sunday’s series finale. However, two frames in, it carried the same feel as its two predecessors. Miami starting pitcher Herick Hernandez matched sophomore right-hander Rory Fox’s pair of scoreless innings, moving the game along quickly to the third.

Fox would blink first in the third, surrendering a lone run on an aggressive, sac-fly tag-up by Daniel Cuvet. But Hernandez blinked harder, allowing seven Irish runs across the third and fourth innings. Glancy delivered the big blow, a two-out grand slam that traveled 412 feet out to left field. With the four-run swing, the St. John’s transfer handed Notre Dame a 7-1 lead and took the team lead with seven home runs on the year.

The next time the Irish hit, they trailed 9-7. Miami posted eight runs off the combination of Fox, sophomore right-hander David Lally Jr. and graduate right-hander Nate Hardman in the fifth, bringing 11 men to the plate. The half-inning opened with six consecutive Hurricanes reaching and ended with a towering, three-run homer to left by center fielder Jacoby Long, his first round-tripper of the season.

After Hernandez departed the Miami mound, Notre Dame tested left-hander Chris Scinta and the Hurricane bullpen. The Irish put two on with one out in the sixth, but a failed steal of third by Williams killed the rally. Miami would respond with a 10th run in the eighth, opening up a three-run lead.

Scinta, who had retired the side in the seventh, gave way to freshman right-hander Nick Robert for the home half of the eighth. Notre Dame attacked him right away, with junior outfielder DM Jefferson and Spence both singling as pinch-hitters. With one out, Williams then sent a run-scoring hit down the right-field line and attempted to stretch it to a triple. But he didn’t realize Spence, the baserunner at first, had not rounded third to score a second run, leaving the catcher stranded to make a key out on the basepath.

Moments later, however, with two away and a full count, Glancy minimized the blunder’s relevance. He launched his second home run of the game over the left-field wall, bringing home Williams and leveling the score at 10. At that point, leads of 1-0, 7-1 and 10-7 had gone by the wayside.

After a scoreless ninth, the game entered extra innings with graduate right-hander Bennett Flynn pitching for the Irish. Flynn’s 10th began with a leadoff walk and wild pitch, immediately moving Miami’s go-ahead run into scoring position. Cuvet would plate that run, torching a single off the glove of Hincks at first and into right field. A sacrifice fly made the score 12-10, forcing Notre Dame to start another rally.

For a moment in the bottom of the 10th, it seemed the Irish stars would align perfectly. Williams flared a two-out single into left-center, extending the game to Glancy as the tying run. But Sunday’s RBI machine struck out non-competitively in his second duel with Robert, ending the game and the series.

Up next, Notre Dame will finish its five-game homestand with a midweek tilt against Bowling Green. The Falcons have ripped through the Mid-American Conference through three weeks, posting a 9-0 record in league play. Overall, Bowling Green is 11-8 with a six-game win streak and a .502 slugging percentage, the highest in the MAC. The Falcons have scored double-digit runs in five straight games, including a 34-run explosion against Ball State on March 16.

Tuesday’s midweek matchup begins at 4:30 p.m. at Frank Eck Stadium.