April 22, 2017
By Michael Scholl
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia -- Michael Hearne held one of the nation's most prolific offenses off the scoreboard for eight innings en route to an 8-2 Irish victory over No. 19 Virginia. Hearne pitched into the ninth before allowing a pair of runs, helping the Irish rebound to split a doubleheader with the Cavaliers.
The southpaw did not allow a hit until the sixth inning, striking out six UVA batters along the way. He finished allowing six hits and two runs in 8-plus innings of work with two walks. Sean Guenther finished the ninth without allowing a run on one hit.
Offensively, the Irish jumped out to an early lead thanks to Daniel Jung's three-run homer in the third. Matt Vierling was the other hero at the plate, going 4-for-5 with three RBI. Kyle Fiala was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and Nick Podkul was 3-for-5 at the top of the order.
The Irish jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to a two-out rally in the second. Cole Daily and Nick Neville drew consecutive walks before Jung hammered 1-2 pitch into the bleachers in right to make it 3-0. Jake Shepski drew another walk, then advanced to second on a wild pitch before Podkul doubled into the left-field corner to make it 4-0. Jake Johnson then drove a ball to right which the UVA right fielder, Cameron Simmons, caught with his back to the wall to end the frame.
Fiala opened the third with a double to left center. Vierling followed with a beautiful bunt single down the first baseline before Lidge battled through a nine-pitch at-bat to walk and load the bases with no one out. Daily drilled a ball to the hole in short and UVA's Ernie Clement made a diving snare to get the first out. Mik Aoki then played the match-up and went to Power, who pinch hit for Neville. Power hit a chopper to short and was doubled up, allowing Virginia to escape without allowing a run.
After the Irish failed to score, the Davenport Field crowd was energized, even more so after Hearne issued just his sixth walk of the season to lead off the bottom of the third. But the graduate student was unfazed, as he struck out Nate Eikhoff and Jake McCarthy before Lidge picked off Simmons at first to hang another goose egg.
The Irish added on in the fifth, taking advantage of a Cavalier error. Johnson reached on a grounder to second when the second baseman, Andy Weber, slipped as he planted to throw and lost control of the ball. Fiala hit into a fielder's choice, with Johnson retired at second, before Vierling doubled to right-center, scoring Fiala. A strikeout and groundout ended the inning with Notre Dame up, 5-0.
Virginia did not get its first hit until the sixth, but the Cavaliers came on strong. Eikhoff, McCarthy and Clement led off with consecutive singles. Hearne slammed the door, however, as he got Weber looking and induced a double play ball from Haseley to keep the Irish lead at 5-0.
Notre Dame plated three more runs in the seventh. Podkul sparked the rally with a leadoff double, then Johnson reached on a fielding error by the third baseman while laying down a sacrifice bunt. Virginia head coach Brian O'Connor went to his bullpen, but Fiala greeted the new Cavalier pitcher with a double to left-center to score Podkul. Vierling followed with a two-run single at the middle to make it 8-0.
- It was the first win over a ranked team for the Irish this season.
- The previous win over a ranked opponent came last year when Hearne went the distance in a 1-0 win over No. 20 Michigan State.
- Hearne walked multiple hitters in an outing for just the second time this season. He also walked a pair in his first start of the year against Saint Louis in San Antonio.
- Podkul has now reached base in 27 consecutive contests, the longest streak for an Irish player since Fiala reached in 47 straight in 2015.
- Ryan Lidge has reached base in 17 straight games, tied for the second-longest such streak of the season.
- Johnson saw his 17-game on-base streak and nine-game hitting streak come to an end. The nine-game hitting streak is the longest by an Irish player this season.
Notre Dame and Virginia are currently scheduled to conclude the series on Saturday at 11 a.m., however, rain is expected to arrive in Charlottesville and may become a factor. Stay tuned to @NDBaseball on Twitter and UND.com/NDBaseball for the latest. The third game will air on ACC Network Extra, with audio available on WatchND 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, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati.