May 15, 2018
By Megan Golden
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Following a week off from game action, the University of Notre Dame baseball team exploded offensively in a powerful 19-10 victory at Northwestern on Tuesday afternoon.
Notre Dame (24-25) received a shutout performance from freshman Tommy Sheehan, who exited the game after throwing 4.0 scoreless innings. Sheehan and Andrew Belcik combined to work 6.0 innings, allowing just three hits to Northwestern (16-30) and striking out seven.
The Irish offense, meanwhile, used five RBI each from Nick Podkul, Alex Kerschner and Eric Gilgenbach to secure one of the team’s most dominant wins of the season.
With the win, the Irish split the season series with the Wildcats.
How It Happened
Notre Dame got on the board first, taking a 2-0 lead in the third inning on a two-run double from Podkul. Cole Daily doubled to get the rally started, Jake Johnson walked, and Podkul connected for his 13th double of the season.
Matt Vierling led off with a single in the sixth inning, and Niko Kavadas added a base hit in the following at-bat. Kerschner laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, and Gilgenbach delivered a two-run double to left to make it a 4-0 game. Daniel Jung then knocked an RBI-single into right to extend the lead to 5-0.
Notre Dame was back at it in the seventh, when the offense put up a six spot. Daily walked to lead off the inning, and Johnson singled to left. Podkul and Vierling connected for back-to-back homers, making the score 9-0. Kavadas walked, and Alex Kerschner drove in Notre Dame’s 10th run of the day with his ACC-best fifth triple of the season. Eric Gilgenbach drove in the final run of the inning with a sacrifice fly, increasing the lead to 11-0.
Northwestern loaded the bases against Cameron Junker in the seventh and hit a sacrifice fly to left to get on the board. The Wildcats’ Jack Dunn hit a two-out, three-run triple to cut the deficit to 11-4. Zack Martin entered in relief and allowed the lone inherited runner to score on an RBI-single, but the Irish owned an 11-5 lead after seven innings.
In the eighth inning, Vierling and Jared Miller drew back-to-back two-out walks. Kerschner singled to third base, and Vierling came home on a wild pitch during the ensuing at-bat. Gilgenbach stepped in and blooped a two-run single to left, and Notre Dame was in control of a 14-5 advantage.
The Wildcats answered with a bases-loaded, RBI-single, followed by a run on a wild pitch, and the Irish lead was cut to 14-7.
In the top of the ninth, Spencer Myers walked, Podkul was hit by a pitch and Vierling walked to load the bases with no outs. Miller was hit by a pitch to drive in the team’s 15th run, and Kerschner delivered his first career grand slam to make it 19-7.
Northwestern was not finished as it added a two-run homer and a solo shot in the ninth to make it 19-10. That would be all for the Wildcats as the Irish took their ninth win in the last 11 games.
Co-Players of the Game
Nick Podkul drove in five runs, finishing the day 2-for-6 with a double two runs scored and recording his 17th multi-hit game of the year.
Alex Kerschner went 3-for-5 with a triple and a grand slam, driving in a career-high-tying five runs.
Eric Gilgenbach also went 3-for-5 with a double, one run scored and five RBI.
- Notre Dame controls a 73-60-1 overall record against Northwestern, including a 25-30-1 mark at Northwestern.
- Notre Dame’s 19 runs mark the most scored by the Irish since Feb. 19, 2011 versus Purdue.
- Over the last 11 games, Alex Kerschner has hit .357 (15-42) with six multi-hit games. Kerschner has hit safely in nine of his last 11 contests.
- Nick Podkul has gone 17-for-47 (.362) over the last 11 games.
- Eric Gilgenbach is batting .458 (11-24) during his six-game hitting streak.
- Since April 1, Matt Vierling has recorded a hit in 18 of 23 games, batting .337 (30-89), with 10 multi-hit performances and 17 RBI over that span.
- Andrew Belcik entered in relief and worked 2.0 innings. Belcik has an 0.77 ERA in his last 10 games (1 ER/11.2 IP).
- Podkul and Vierling connected for back-to-back homers in the seventh, marking the fifth time this season the Irish have accomplished the feat and the first since May 1.
- Alex Kerschner’s grand slam in the ninth inning was his second homer in the last three games and Notre Dame’s first grand slam since March 16.
- Six Irish players finished with multi-hit performances.
Notre Dame travels to No. 25 Louisville for its final series of the regular season, beginning with a 6 p.m. ET first pitch on Thursday. The game will be streamed on ACC Network Extra and aired on 103.1 FM (South Bend)/WatchND.
For a behind-the-scenes look at the Irish baseball program, follow @NDBaseball on Twitter and @NotreDameBaseball on Instagram. For tickets to an Irish baseball game, click here.
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame baseball and women's soccer programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary's College and former Irish women’s basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.