April 8, 2014
CHICAGO, Ill. - Behind sophomore Nick McCarty's first career complete game, the University of Notre Dame baseball team defeated Chicago State, 6-1, Tuesday night at Cougar Stadium to win its seventh non-conference game in a row.
After a disappointing outing against No. 1 Florida State Friday night, McCarty (2-6) looked in control for much of the night against the Cougars as he went all nine innings and gave up just a single unearned run in the first inning. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and allowed only two hits on the night. Showing good command, the Westfield, Ind., product walked just one while striking out six. The six K's tied a career high while his 124 pitches was also a career high.
"Nick really picked us up tonight," said head coach Mik Aoki. "I thought for the most part he was in the strike zone and I thought his two seamer worked pretty well for him. He made a couple of big pitches early in the game when we needed him to. He should have gotten a shutout. We have to make that play in left field and at third to end the inning, but he battled and did a nice job bouncing back from Friday night. If it wasn't for Nick we wouldn't have won this game."
After the first inning, the Cougars only reached second base twice. Both times McCarty got out of a jam with solid pitching. In the seventh inning, he got a ground out and a fly out to end the inning, while the eighth inning saw McCarty earn a strikeout on a 2-2 pitch to end the frame. After giving up his first hit of the night in the sixth, McCarty quickly got CSU to fly out and hit into a double play to end the threat.
"Nick attacked the zone tonight," said freshman catcher Ryan Lidge. "That's the talent Nick has and everyone knows he can be that stud that comes out and gets double plays and ground balls. He really worked to what he does best, which is getting the opponent to put the ball on the ground and making the hitters look foolish up there."
Behind the play of McCarty, the Irish offense didn't need to do much as they scored one run in the second inning to tie the game and then plated five in the sixth inning to put the non-conference contest out of reach.
Turning in a big night for the Irish was Lidge. The Barrington, Ill., native went a perfect 4-for-4 at the dish and added two RBI and a run scored. Junior Robert Youngdahl knocked his second triple of the season, while freshman Cavan Biggio and sophomore Zak Kutsulis each had two hits, an RBI and a run scored.
"I've been a lot more relaxed at the plate recently, trying to not do too much," said Lidge. "I've worked on taking that deep breath and focusing on approach. I really give a lot of credit to the coaches. The lessons on approach have helped not just me but our whole team recently."
The Irish defense, which had three errors on the night, helped the Cougars jump on the board first in the opening inning as they had a pair of costly miscues. Lead-off hitter Jared Patterson got on base after Kutsulis dropped a fly ball with the sun in his eyes. Patterson moved around the bags on a stolen base and a ground out. With two outs, third baseman Kyle Fiala scooped up a grounder and looked to make the long throw over to first base. However, the throw sailed well over the head of Blaise Lezynski, allowing Patterson to scoot home for a 1-0 CSU lead.
Notre Dame answered back in the top of the second as Fiala led off the inning by taking a pitch on the leg. He moved around the bases on a ground out and wild pitch and then scored on a Kutsulis RBI ground out to second base.
The breakout inning for the Irish came in the sixth as Notre Dame shelled starting pitcher Andrew Wellwerts for five runs after the junior had cruised through the first five innings. Notre Dame led off the inning with five consecutive hits as Fiala, Ca. Biggio, Kutsulis and Lidge all produced singles before Youngdahl hit his second triple of the season to clear the bases. Those five hits scored four runs. Later in the inning, junior Mac Hudgins hit a fielder's choice RBI to second base to score Youngdahl and up the Irish lead to 6-1. After allowing just three hits through the first five innings, Wellwerts exited after giving up six runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings of work. He also walked two, hit two, had one wild pitch and struck out one in 79 pitches. Chicago State used five pitchers in the game.
Notre Dame (11-20, 1-14 ACC) returns to action tomorrow as the Irish hit the road for Ann Arbor, Mich., and a date with rival Michigan. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. and can be followed through Gametracker and WHME 103.1 FM (or WatchND).
--Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director