The #6 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish baseball team was back at home this week for four games, a midweek game against the Valparaiso Crusaders and an ACC series against the North Carolina Tar Heels. Notre Dame was able to win all four games and improve to 24-8 overall on the season. Notre Dame sits in first place in the ACC with a .724 win%. The Louisville Cardinals sit in second place at .609. Notre Dame has two conference series remaining to win the ACC regular season title and possibly earn a chance to host an NCAA regional.
Notre Dame 8 (21-8) - Valparaiso 7 (8-22)
Win: Liam Simon, ND (5-1)
Loss: Nathan Chasey, Valpo (0-2)
Notre Dame took the lead early scoring in each of the first two innings. In the first inning Carter Putz singled to score Spencer Myers and Ryan Cole. In the second inning it was Myers’ turn to get the RBI, singling home Zack Prajzner. Valparaiso was able to score their first run in the fourth inning, but added four more runs in the top of the fifth to take the lead.
The lead didn’t last long though, as Notre Dame took the lead right back in the bottom half of the inning. Niko Kavadas was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring home Kyle Hess. Spencer Myers then scored on a sacrifice fly from Carter Putz and Ryan Cole came home after a passed ball. Valparaiso was back at it in the sixth though, scoring two more runs to take back the lead.
In the bottom of the sixth Notre Dame loaded the bases again and brought in a run when Prajzner scored on a groundout from Cole to tie the game at seven. Notre Dame loaded the bases again and scored on a groundout to take the lead. This time it was Kyle Hess driving in Jack Brannigan. Liam Simon came out of the bullpen for Notre Dame in the seventh inning and pitched the final 2.1 innings of the game to earn the win.
Game 1: Notre Dame 4 (22-8, 19-8) - North Carolina 0 (20-19, 14-14)
Win: Tanner Kohlhepp, ND (6-1)
Loss: Austin Love, UNC (5-4)
Over the weekend Notre Dame hosted the North Carolina Tar Heels for their first matchup since Notre Dame swept the series in Chapel Hill just before the 202 season was suspended. The first game was all Notre Dame.
The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning when Jack Brannigan hit a solo home run for a 1-0 Irish lead. Later in the fourth inning Kyle Hess singled to score Brooks Coetzee and it was a 2-0 lead after four. Notre Dame added insurance in the eighth inning, although they wouldn’t need it. Coetzee popped the ball up, but it was dropped and thrown away and Putz and Brannigan scored on the play.
Will Mercer started the game for Notre Dame and threw 4.2 scoreless innings for Notre Dame. Tanner Kohlhepp came out of the bullpen in the fifth inning and threw 4.1 scoreless innings to earn his team leading sixth win of the season.
Game 2: Notre Dame 13 (23-8, 20-8) - North Carolina 12 (20-20, 14-15)
Win: John Michael Bertrand, ND (5-1)
Loss: Shawn Rapp, UNC (1-1)
Save: Aidan Tyrell, ND (2)
Game two on Saturday was a bit of a wild one. Notre Dame took an early lead and turned that into a big lead. North Carolina had several big innings at the end of the game and nearly came back, but the Irish were able to hold on for the win.
Notre Dame scored first in the bottom half of the first inning, when Carter Putz doubled to bring home Ryan Cole. North Carolina tied the game in the top half of the second inning before Notre Dame jumped back in the lead in the bottom half of the inning. Jared Miller singled to score both Brooks Coetzee and David LaManna. Later in the inning Cole was involved again, singling to bring home Miller and Spencer Myers.
In the fourth inning, with two runners on base, Niko Kavadas singled home Miller. The throw went behind Kavadas to first base and allowed Cole to come home and score as well. North Carolina scored one more run in the top of the fifth, but Notre Dame went back to work in the bottom half of the inning. With runners on the corners David LaManna squeezed home Jack Brannigan. Later in the inning Ryan Cole singled to score two more runs. In the sixth inning Brooks Coetzee and David LaManna hit back to back sacrifice flies to score two more runs. At this point it was a 12-2 lead for Notre Dame.
North Carolina started to come back in the seventh inning scoring three runs to cut down the lead. They then scored six runs in the top of the eighth to pull within one run. In the bottom of the eighth inning Notre Dame was able to get a game saving insurance run when Carter Putz scored from third on a dropped strike three passed ball. The Tar Heels tried to finish the comeback in the ninth with a solo home run that brought it back to a one run game, but Aidan Tyrell was able to finish the inning without allowing another baserunner to finish off the win.
Game 3: Notre Dame 19 (24-8, 21-8) - North Carolina 5 (20-21, 14-16)
Win: Tanner Kohlhepp, ND (7-1)
Loss: Gage Gillian, UNC (1-1)
Game three was again all Notre Dame, as the offense completely dominated from start to finish to close out the sweep. North Carolina scored first with two runs in the top half of the first inning, but Notre Dame came right back in the bottom half. Niko Kavadas drove in both Spencer Myers and Ryan Cole with a double. Jack Brannigan then doubled to score both Kavadas and Carter Putz before David LaManna followed with another double to score Brannigan.
North Carolina added a run in the second inning and two in the third to tie the game, but that is all they would get and Notre Dame soon broke the game open. Carter Putz hit a home run in the bottom of the third to take back the lead, and then the offense really went to work in the fourth. David LaManna hit his first home run of the season before Carter Putz singled in two runs. Later in the inning Brooks Coetzee hit a three run home run. In the fifth inning Niko Kavadas singled home another run and Notre Dame held a 13-5 lead.
That score held until the bottom of the eighth inning when Notre Dame brought home another six runs to really finish off the game. David LaManna added to his big game with two more RBIs on a single. Zack Prajzner hit a two run home run and Kavadas and Putz finished things off with an RBI each. When it was all done, Notre Dame scored 19 runs, their most ever in an ACC game.
Scoring the most runs ever in an ACC game means there are a lot of highlights!!— Notre Dame Baseball (@NDBaseball) May 2, 2021
Check out all the highlights and full recap from the 19-5 win over North Carolina!!
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Notre Dame has another midweek game, this time on the road, against the Central Michigan Chippewas. They then close out their home schedule for the regular season by welcoming the Florida State Seminoles to South Bend for a weekend conference series.