April 11, 2017
By Michael Scholl
NOTRE DAME, Indiana -- The Notre Dame baseball team scored the game-winning run on a double steal to defeat Michigan State, 2-1, on Tuesday night at Frank Eck Stadium.
The victory makes the Irish winners of four straight, seven of their last nine and seven of the last eight at The Eck.
Cameron Brown recorded his first career win with four shutout innings of relief work after starter Scott Tully allowed one run in two innings. Sean Guenther pitched three shutout innings to earn his third save.
Matt Vierling was 2-for-3 and scored both runs. The first came on a solo homer to left, his fifth dinger of the season. The second came in the sixth on a double steal to put the Irish ahead for good. Jake Johnson had a 3-for-4 night and Ryan Lidge had the other hit for Notre Dame.
Bryce Kelley led off the game with a single for the Spartans before stealing second with one out. Tully then hit Dan Durkin with a pitch before Michigan State attempted a double steal. Durkin was gunned down at second base for out number two. Brandon Hughes then dumped a single into center, scoring Kelley and making it 1-0.
Vierling got it back for the Irish in the second. The sophomore sent a 2-1 pitch beyond the wall in left to make it 1-1. Lidge followed with a walk, but the Irish were unable to add any more and it was tied after two.
Brown came on in relief of Tully, who is still battling back from Tommy John surgery. Brown delivered a 1-2-3 shutdown inning after Vierling tied it by getting a pair of groundouts and a lineout.
Brown pitched around a leadoff double in the fourth to keep the ballgame even. Hughes led off with a double to the gap in right-center but came up lame rounding first. Jake Kruk pinch ran, but Brown got Alex Troop to pop up to second before Matt Byars and Royce Ando grounded out to strand Kruk at third.
The Irish loaded the bases with one out in the fourth but failed to score. Lidge started it with a one-out single before Jung was walked. MSU went to the bullpen, bringing in Walter Borkovich who then walked Power. Daily hit a chopper to first, but the Spartans went home and retired Lidge at the dish. Shepski grounded out to second to end the threat.
The Irish took advantage of a Michigan State miscue to take the lead in the sixth. Vierling started things with a single up the middle. Lidge then hit a chopper towards second base which was misplayed by the shortstop, allowing Vierling to advance to third with no one out. After Jung struck out, Power did the same but Irish skipper Mik Aoki sent Lidge from first on a delayed steal. He slowed halfway to second, drawing a throw but making it safely. Vierling broke from third and beat the throw home to score the go-ahead run. Daily then flew out to end the frame with the home team up, 2-1.
Notre Dame was on the verge of adding on in the seventh, but this time the MSU bullpen slammed the door. It started as Podkul was hit by a pitch with one out. Johnson followed with a single to right on a hit-and-run with Podkul advancing to third. Jake Lowrey came out of the pen and while Johnson was able to steal second, Kyle Fiala went down looking for out number two. The Spartans intentionally walked Vierling before Lidge smashed a ball up the middle that ricocheted off the pitcher to the shortstop Ando. Ando's throw on the run beat Lidge by a half-step at first to keep the Notre Dame lead at 2-1.
The Spartans did not go quietly in the ninth. Chad Roskelly led off with a pinch-hit single and then pinch runner Kory Young was moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt. Guenther then got Zack McGuire to pop up to second for out number two and struck out Taylor Grace to end the game.
The Irish remain at home to host Toledo on Wednesday night at 6:05 p.m. The game will be available on ACC Network Extra, WatchESPN and 103.1 FM.
Michael Scholl joined Fighting Irish Media in August 2016, coordinating communications for the baseball program and assisting with the football team at his alma mater. The South Bend native earned a degree in political science from the College of Arts & Letters in 2009 before going on to work in athletics communications at Providence College,