April 30, 2014
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Missed opportunities plagued the University of Notre Dame baseball team Wednesday night as the Irish defense committed three big errors while the offense left 15 runners on base in a 6-4 10-inning loss to long-time foe Western Michigan.
After a back-and-forth game resulted in the score being knotted at four at the end of nine innings, Irish senior Donnie Hissa (1-3) entered the top of the 10th for his third inning of work. The Broncos loaded the bases with one out, but Hissa helped his cause by making a spectacular diving scoop and toss to catcher Forrest Johnson to get the force at home plate. However, disaster struck during the next at-bat as a two RBI single by Vinnie Booker proved to be the game winner.
Notre Dame got a pair of runners on in the bottom half of the 10th after back-to-back singles by Kyle Richardson and Fiala, but a pair of sharply hit lineouts to centerfield ended the game and gave the visitors the road win.
The loss continued Notre Dame's frustration with close games as the Irish fell to 2-6 in extra-inning games and to 4-12 in one-run contests this year.
Irish starter Scott Kerrigan entered the game with a 0.77 ERA since March 22 and had given up just six runs (three earned) in his last 35 innings on the mound. He continued his solid effort Wednesday night as he gave up one earned run in 7.1 innings of work to lower his season ERA to 1.77. However, Western Michigan plated three unearned runs that directly corresponded to three Irish miscues to saddle Kerrigan with the no-decision as he left after 112 pitches.
On offense, the Irish produced 12 hits but left runners on base in the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th innings, including three runners in each of the seventh and eighth frames. Junior Robert Youngdahl continued his solid play as of late with a three-hit day against the Broncos. Freshman Kyle Fiala and sophomore Zak Kutsulis registered two hits each and juniors Mac Hudgins and Blaise Lezynski tallied the only two Notre Dame RBI.
Western Michigan jumped on the board first in the top of the third inning as Andrew Sohn hit a rocket to centerfield and galloped around the bases for a triple. Scoring on the play was Kurt Hoekstra, who reached base on a fielding error by Cavan Biggio at second.
The Irish answered in the bottom half of the frame with a pair of runs to vault back in front. Back-to-back hits to lead off the inning plated one as Youngdahl hit a single and was brought home by a big Hudgins double down the right-field line. After a solid sac bunt by Fiala got Hudgins to third, a wild pitch by Western Michigan reliever Pat Haynes gave the Irish a 2-1 lead.
The Notre Dame defense let down Kerrigan in the seventh as the Broncos plated two more unearned runs to regain the lead. A fielding error by Lezynski at first proved costly as Grant Miller knocked a RBI double to score Jared Kujawa. Later in the frame a rushed Fiala throw at third sailed wide of first and allowed Miller to circle home from third base to score.
A back-and-forth game continued in the bottom half of the seventh as Lezynski hit an RBI single to score Fiala and tie the game at three.
Both teams then plated a run in the eighth inning to send the game to extras.
Notre Dame (17-27) gets back into Atlantic Coast Conference action this weekend as it hits the road for its final ACC road series of the season at Maryland. The three-game series gets underway at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
--Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director