The Notre Dame Fighting Irish baseball team opened ACC play over the weekend, visiting the North Carolina Tar Heels for a 3 game series. Notre Dame got things started early on Friday, jumping out to a lead and holding onto throughout the game. They took an early lead again Saturday before giving it up late, only to win the game in extra innings. On Sunday the Notre Dame offense led the way with 14 runs to secure the sweep. This was the first conference road sweep for Notre Dame since 2016, and the first time North Carolina had been swept at home since 2010.
Game 1: Notre Dame 8 (8-2, 1-0) - North Carolina 5 (10-5, 0-1)
Niko Kavadas continued his hot start to the season with a home run in the top of the second to give Notre Dame the early 1-0 lead. A bases loaded walk and sacrifice fly in the third brought home two more runs before Zack Prajzner singled home another for a 4-0 lead.
North Carolina scored two runs in the fourth inning and were threatening in the fifth before Tommy Vail came on in relief, striking out two batters and stranding two runners. Notre Dame added another run in the sixth on a Spencer Myers RBI single before North Carolina added two more runs in the seventh, cutting the Irish lead to 1 run.
Notre Dame would put the game out of reach though. In the eighth inning Jared Miller drove in David LaManna with a single. LaManna scored again in the ninth on a Jack Brannigan single before Brannigan scored on a wild pitch later in the inning. The Tar Heels added one more in the bottom of the ninth but it wasn’t enough for the comeback.
Win: Tommy Vail, ND (2-0)
Loss: Joey Lancellotti, UNC (2-1)
Game 2: Notre Dame 11 (9-2, 2-0) - North Carolina 8 (10-6, 0-2)
Notre Dame scored early again, this time it was Jack Zyska with a two run home run in the first inning. North Carolina would tie the game this time though, scoring a run in each of the second and fourth innings.
TOP 1 | IT IS WAY OUT OF HERE!!!— Notre Dame Baseball (@NDBaseball) March 7, 2020
Jack Zyska crushes a two-run shot to left for his second home run of the season!!
ND 2, UNC 0
https://t.co/sI9SWMoSUQ#GoIrish ☘️ pic.twitter.com/FTRUT2NzKP
The Irish went back on top in the sixth, when David LaManna pinch hit with two outs and singled to score Brooks Coetzee and Zack Prajzner. In the next inning they kept things rolling. Prajzner doubled to bring in one run, and then with two runners on base, Brooks Coetzee hit his first career home run for an 8-2 lead.
TOP 7 | BROOKS COETZEE BREAKS THE GAME OPEN!!!— Notre Dame Baseball (@NDBaseball) March 7, 2020
He hits a three-run homer to left field for his first career home run!!!
ND 8, UNC 2
https://t.co/sI9SWMoSUQ#GoIrish ☘️ pic.twitter.com/aNG26WOofi
North Carolina would respond in a big way in the bottom half of the inning though. When it was all done, Notre Dame had used four different pitchers and North Carolina scored five runs to cut the Irish lead to one. They would tie it in the eighth, and after a scoreless ninth inning the game went to extra innings.
Notre Dame loaded the bases in the tenth inning with two hits and a walk. Eric Gilgenbach was at the plate and doubled down the left field line to score all three runners and put the Irish back on top 11-8. Jack Brannigan, who moved from third base to the pitcher’s mound in the eighth inning, kept the Tar Heels off the board in the bottom half of the inning and earned his first career win after 2.2 innings of work.
TOP 10 | GILGENBACH CLEARS THE BASES!!!— Notre Dame Baseball (@NDBaseball) March 7, 2020
Eric Gilgenbach hits a pinch-hit bases clearing double to give the Irish the lead!!!
ND 11, UNC 8
https://t.co/sI9SWMoSUQ#GoIrish ☘️ pic.twitter.com/TzgYkHVaWr
Win: Jack Brannigan, ND (1-0)
Loss: Chris Joyner, UNC (0-1)
Game 3: Notre Dame 14 (10-2, 3-0) - North Carolina 8 (10-7, 0-3)
Notre Dame got on the board first again on Sunday, this time in the second inning. David LaManna singled with the bases loaded to score the first two runs. Brooks Coetzee there’s scored on an error and Spencer Myers drove in LaManna with a single. The fifth and final run of the inning cam on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Carter Putz.
North Carolina scored a run in each of the second and third innings, but Notre Dame added two more in their own half of the third. Zack Prajzner hit a solo home run and Jack Brannigan singled in another. North Carolina responded in the fifth inning though, scoring five runs to tie the game at 7.
Jack Brannigan picked up another RBI for Notre Dame in the fifth, this time with a sacrifice fly to regain the lead. Later in the inning Carter Putz hit a two-run home run for a 10-7 lead before the Tar Heels responded with their eighth and final run in the sixth inning.
In the seventh inning Notre Dame scored one of the most exciting runs of the season. With the bases loaded and Niko Kavadas at the plate all three runners took off on the first pitch of the at bat. Brannigan beat the pitch to the plate for a steal of home. Notre Dame added three more runs in the eighth inning to put the game away.
☘️ Season-high 14 runs— Notre Dame Baseball (@NDBaseball) March 9, 2020
☘️ Second sweep off the season
☘️ First ACC road sweep since 2016
☘️ Straight steal of home
Sunday’s game had it all, check out all the highlights from the 14-8 win below ⤵️#GoIrish ☘️ pic.twitter.com/inToEPIQ6T
Win: Liam Simon, ND (1-0)
Loss: Caden O’Brien, UNC (0-1)
Save: Aidan Tyrell, ND (1)
Notre Dame travels to Virginia for a midweek matchup against the Radford University Highlanders on Wednesday March 11. They then travel to Louisville, KY to continue their ACC schedule with a weekend series against the Louisville Cardinals.