The last time Tech played Notre Dame, it was in South Bend, and my wife and I turned it into a road trip since we’d never been there. As a trip it was great; as a baseball experience it was horrible as the Jackets got swept in the most disheartening fashion. Plus, it was cold in mid April. Local guy Zac Ryan got a good reception, but the Jackets came away at 4-11 ACC. Ugh!
This year Tech already has more ACC wins after three weekends than they did in 2017 after five. Tech 17-8 (5-4) hosts the scrappy Irish at 10-12 overall but also 5-4 ACC with series wins at Wake Forest and Clemson to their credit. They would put up another big road win tonight at the Jackets’ expense, with a final score of 9-6.
Xzavion Curry (3-0, 3.31) faced sophomore lefty Tommy Sheehan (3-2, 3.99), who had a complete game victory over Clemson a couple of weeks ago.
The game started out badly, as the first two batters walked on 3-2 counts before freshman Carter Putz hit a no doubter over the right field fence to put ND up 3-0. The Jackets jumped right back, though, with two runs in their half of the 1st . Michael Guldberg tripled and scored on a passed ball that didn’t get far way. Then, Tristin English homered to right and the score was 3-2.
In the bottom of the 2nd, an error on the ND second baseman trying for a double play on Nick Wilhite allowed Colin Hall to score the tying run from 2nd .
The lead was short lived, as two singles around a hit batsman gave ND a 4-3 lead with runners on the corners and no outs. Serratos saved probably two runs by snagging a screaming line drive, and Curry got a strikeout and deep fly ball out to avoid more damage. The Jackets bounced right back on and RBI double by English that scored McCann from 1st and then Colin Hall drove in English with a single, giving Tech their first and only lead at 5-4.
Xzavion got a needed shutdown 4th , but was pulled for Jake Lee in the 5th , being well off his best tonight.
Jake was not at all effective, giving up a single, double, and a three run homer to left, and the Irish led 7-5 still with no outs. After he walked the next batter, Lee was relieved by Keyton Gibson, who struck out the next three batters, but the damage had been done.
Tech got one back in their half of the 5th on English’s second home run and third hit of the night. Luke Bartnicki came in to pitch the sixth, and gave up an infield single, walk, and two run double to quickly make it a three run lead. The Irish brought in a new pitcher for the sixth, junior righty Andrew Belcik.
The Jackets loaded the bases after two outs on two walks and a hit batsman in their 6th , bringing up McCann to face new pitcher sophomore lefty Tommy Vail. Unfortunately, McCann struck out for the third time, leaving the score unchanged. Jonathan Hughes came in to pitch for Tech, and worked out of a jam of his own making caused by walks. Micah Carpenter came in to try his luck in the 8th after Tech went down in order in their 7th , although English had just missed a third HR. Micah faced the minimum, aided by a double play after a single.
After the Jackets went down easy in their 8th , Jake Brace pitched the 9th and got out of a bases loaded jam with another timely double play. It didn’t matter though. The ninth for Tech turned into a weird symbiotic relationship between pitcher Vail and the umpire, who called Waddell, Guldberg, and McCann out on strikes to end the game. Tech fell to 17-9 (5-5) and ND improved to 11-12 (6-4). Jake Lee took the loss, Sheehan got the win, Vail the save.