April 1, 2014
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The Irish bats finally got in rhythm Tuesday night as the University of Notre Dame baseball team racked up 11 runs on 13 hits to cruise past in-state foe Valparaiso, 11-1, at Four Winds Field. On the mound Notre Dame got a solid effort from junior Scott Kerrigan as he went six innings and allowed one run in earning his first career victory.
After scoring five runs in a 7-5 loss to Wake Forest Sunday, the Irish continued their mini-surge at the plate Tuesday as they scored two or more runs in four separate innings to distance themselves from the visiting Crusaders. Five student-athletes recorded multi-hit days, including senior Forrest Johnson, who had a monster game with three hits, three RBI and two runs scored. Sophomore Lane Richards also recorded three RBI on two hits, while lead-off hitter Conor Biggio, brother Cavan Biggio and leftfielder Zak Kutsulis also notched two-hit days. Freshman Kyle Fiala led the team with three runs scored.
"I thought we had a good approach overall," said head coach Mik Aoki. "We faced the same guy we did last week and his changeup is a pretty good pitch, but not a pitch that is a swing and miss pitch ... it's one that induces weak rollers and ground balls. I thought when we got to two strikes we did a nice job of looking to let the fastball get deep. A couple of guys were right on that changeup and smashed it. Our approach is to take away his best pitch and I thought we did a good job of adjusting from last week."
On the mound, Kerrigan looked steady and in control the entire night as he allowed one run on three hits in six innings of work. He struck out three and walked none on 60 pitches to lower his ERA to 3.78 for the season.
"It (getting first win) felt really good," said Kerrigan. "I felt like I had really good control of my pitches tonight and my defense was working really well behind me.
After struggling in his first two starts (0-1, 13.50 ERA, 3.1 IP) as he returned from right labrum surgery, the Saugus, Calif., native has been near lights out in his last three appearances (1-0, 1.35 ERA, 13.1 IP) to help bolster the Irish pitching corps.
"I was coming off surgery and I felt like I lost the feel a bit, but I just got over it mentally and put the work in and I got it back I think," said Kerrigan when asked about difference in last three appearances as opposed to the first two.
Despite Notre Dame's struggles in Atlantic Coast Conference play so far this season, the Irish have found success as of late in non-conference games by reeling off six consecutive wins since a heart-breaking 4-2 loss in 10 innings to rival Michigan March 1. For the year, Notre Dame is 9-6 in non-conference games.
After nine games in the region, the Irish (10-17, 1-11 ACC) jump back into road ACC play this weekend with a three-game set at No. 1 Florida State (23-5, 9-2 ACC) in front of what will surely be a hostile crowd. Games on Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (6 p.m.) will be on ESPN3 and WatchND, while Sunday's series finale (12 p.m.) can be watched live on ESPNU.
The Irish got the bats cracking in the second inning as Fiala and Ca. Biggio led off the inning with a double and single, respectively, to give Notre Dame runners at the corners with no outs. Later in the inning, Johnson rewarded his teammates with his first career triple to give the Irish a 2-0 lead. Two batters later, Richards singled through the right side to score Johnson and put Notre Dame ahead by three.
Notre Dame plated three more runs in the fourth inning as the Irish recorded four singles and a walk with one out. Back-to-back singles by Kutsulis and Johnson were followed by a Robert Youngdahl walk and a Richards single that put Notre Dame up 5-1. After a single by Co. Biggio, Mac Hudgins hit into a fielder's choice that scored Youngdahl to move the Notre Dame advantage to 6-1.
In the fifth, the Irish plated two more runs as Kutsulis produced an RBI single and Johnson had an RBI fielder's choice to up the lead to 8-1.
The lead was extended to 9-1 in the sixth as Lezynski hit a sac fly to right field to bring home Co. Biggio.
Notre Dame closed out its scoring in the eighth as a fielding error by pitcher Scott Jerge while he attempted to cover first base resulted in Kevin DeFilippis and Fiala scoring.
Valpo scored its lone run in the fourth on a Michael Mormon RBI single that capitalized on a triple by Chris Manning.
--Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director