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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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Central Michigan freezes Notre Dame 2-0

Irish muster only one hit in ugly home loss

On a chilly late-April evening, the bats went cold for Notre Dame. 

Riding high on a five-game win streak during which they outscored their opponents 58-18, the Irish (20-19, 5-16 ACC) were able to scratch out just a single hit in Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to the Central Michigan Chippewas (14-27, 5-13 MAC) at Frank Eck Stadium. 

Graduate student third baseman Simon Baumgardt’s second-inning single was Notre Dame’s only hit against a rotating Central Michigan pitching staff that went seven deep for a combined one-hitter. One run in the fourth inning and another in the sixth inning was all the Chippewas would need to pad the victory. The win was Central Michigan’s first over the Irish since April of 2019.

In a game where temperatures hovered consistently in the low-40s, sophomore Jack Bach set the tone for the Chippewas, striking out the side in the first inning of his first career start. Notre Dame would see action on the basepaths against Bach in the second, when senior first baseman Connor Hincks walked and eventually advanced to third after Baumgardt’s single and a groundout. In what would be the most high-leverage situation for the Central Michigan pitching staff all evening, Bach was able to work out of the jam by inducing a pair of groundouts.

Making his second career start, freshman right-hander DJ Helwig also got off on the right foot, sitting down the first six batters he faced. The Irish would get themselves into trouble in the fourth, when freshman right-hander Keenan Mork came on in relief. Mork walked three batters and hit a fourth, plating the first run when senior first baseman Danny Wuestenfeld came around to score.

Later on in the sixth, with junior right-handed pitcher Ricky Reeth on the mound for the Irish, Central Michigan scored its insurance run. Senior third baseman Ely Stuart led off the frame with a line-drive single to right field and advanced to third on a double down the right field line by senior outfielder Marquis Jackson. Stuart would score on a fielder's choice to Notre Dame junior shortstop Jack Penney. 

After Bach’s solid start, the Chippewas utilized six relievers to close out the victory. Five of the six worked only an inning, and not one faced more than four batters. Senior Jared Milchuck entered the game in the eighth inning and earned the two-inning save for the Chippewas. Jack Penney, Notre Dame’s hottest hitter, led off the ninth inning with a walk, but the middle of the Irish order was set down by Milchuck.

Stuart, Jackson and senior Jacob Donahue recorded Central Michigan’s three hits in the game against Notre Dame’s five-man pitching staff. Graduate students Will Jacobsen and Nate Hardman pitched the last three innings for the Irish, combining to allow two walks and a hit. In total, the Irish allowed eight walks while striking out six.

Notre Dame faces a difficult road ahead, as the Irish will play host to No. 8 Wake Forest this weekend. The Demon Deacons will come to South Bend with a sour taste in their mouths after falling 3-0 to Elon on Tuesday. Central Michigan, on the other hand, will look to build on its momentum when it hosts Northern Illinois for a Mid-American Conference series beginning Friday.