April 27, 2014
GARY, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame baseball team couldn't punch in runs when given the opportunity Sunday afternoon at the U.S. Steel Yard as the Irish left eight runners on base on their way to getting shutout 4-0 by the Northeastern Huskies. With the win, the visitors claimed the series despite dropping Friday's series lid lifter, 8-4.
The Irish actually tallied the same number of hits as the Huskies (8), but couldn't get the runners home as several key outs were recorded with Notre Dame runners on second and third. After scoring eight runs in the first four innings Friday night, the Notre Dame offense mustered just two runs the final 21 innings of the series.
Sunday's shutout was the fifth of the season for the Irish and the first since a 1-0 setback against Wake Forest March 28.
Irish starter Pat Connaughton (1-4) had several shutdown innings during his 6.2 innings of work, but lost his command in a big three-run fourth inning for Northeastern that put the Huskies on top for good. Three walks, a hit by pitch and two singles did the damage as Connaughton doubled up his pitch count in one inning.
In the seventh, the Huskies added to their lead as Connor Lyons hit a lead-off single and then advanced to second and then third on Connaughton wild pitches. With no outs, Michael Foster hit a sac fly to leftfield to plate Lyons and make the score 4-0.
Connaughton finished his afternoon by allowing four runs on six hits, three walks, two wild pitches and one hit batter. He also struck out three on 92 pitches. He recorded three 1-2-3 frames in the game, including an impressive five-pitch third inning.
The Irish certainly had their chances throughout the game as they left two runners on base in each of the second, third and fourth innings and then one each in the sixth and eighth frames.
Notre Dame's 1-8 hitters all recorded a hit and freshman Cavan Biggio added a walk to go along with his double.
After a rough day on defense Saturday, the Irish didn't record an error Sunday and also turned their 50th double play of the campaign to remain among the nation's elite in that category.
Northeastern pitcher Dustin Hunt pitched a gem for the most part as he allowed just seven hits and a walk in seven innings of work to improve to a perfect 4-0 on the year. He also struck out eight Irish batters on 93 pitches. Reliever Mike Fitzgerald went the last two innings and allowed just a single.
C. Lyons led the Huskies for the third game in a row as he had three hits and a run. Catcher Josh Treff notched a pair of hits and a team-high two RBI.
With the win, Northeastern head coach Neil McPhee upped his 29-year total to 715. The Northeastern grad and two-sport star (hockey and baseball) is retiring at the end of the year and was honored by Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki in a pre-game ceremony.
Notre Dame (17-26) returns home to South Bend at 5:35 p.m. Wednesday for a non-conference game against the Western Michigan Broncos at Four Winds Field. Next weekend the Irish head to College Park, Md., for their final Atlantic Coast Conference road series as they play a three-game set at Maryland beginning Friday.
--Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director