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Notre Dame Baseball: Irish Look To Shake Off Sting Of Weekend With Mid-Week At App State

March 11, 2014

NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Looking to right the ship after a tough sweep at No. 6 NC State,
the University of Notre Dame baseball team continues its Tar Heel State spring break
tour with a Tuesday mid-week game at Southern Conference power Appalachian State.
First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. in Boone, N.C., on Beaver Field at Jim and Betty
Smith Stadium.
The game will bring the two teams together for just the second time ever, but both
meetings have occurred in a little over a week. Notre Dame and App State played
March 2 at the USA Baseball-Irish Classic with the Irish claiming a thrilling
come-from-behind walk-off extra-inning victory, 4-3.
In that contest, Notre Dame trailed 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth before plating a
pair of runs to send the game to extras. The game-tying hit came off the bat of
freshman Kyle Fiala with two strikes and two outs. The Irish won the game in the
bottom of the 11th, as catcher Forrest Johnson advanced to third base on an error,
sac bunt and wild pitch to put him in position for the game-winning run that was
eventually delivered by a walk-off single from sophomore Zak Kutsulis.
The Irish (5-9, 0-3 ACC) are coming off a tough program-opening Atlantic Coast
Conference series at the highly ranked Wolfpack as they had plenty of opportunities
to sweep or at least split the Saturday doubleheader (5-3, 1-0) before getting
shutout Sunday, 7-0.
Notre Dame held leads of 1-0 and 3-1 in the opening game Saturday, but the Wolfpack
roared back with two runs in the sixth and two runs in the eighth to claim the
victory. In the nightcap, the Irish had a runner on third in two separate innings
but couldn't bring them home and also had runners on first and second in the fifth
with one out before NC State pitcher Logan Jernigan delivered a pair of strikeouts
to end the threat.
For the series, the Irish struggled in several areas including at the plate (team
batting average of .198) and on the mound as Notre Dame continued to struggle with
control by totaling 12 walks, three wild pitches and three hit batters. The Irish
were held scoreless for the final 21 innings of the series.
Bright spots continued to be the steadiness of starting pitchers Sean Fitzgerald and
Nick McCarty and reliever Michael Hearne.
Fitzgerald (2-1) went six innings and gave up three runs on five hits, struck out
four and walked just one as he was given the no-decision in game one of the series
while McCarty (0-3) suffered through another cruel loss as he gave up just one run
on seven hits while striking out six and walking one in 7.1 innings of work.
After an admittedly poor showing in the season-opening weekend at No. 24 Florida
Atlantic (16-6 loss, 2.1 IP, 7 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 1 SO), McCarty has looked extremely
steady in his last three starts (21.1 IP, 5 R, 18 H, 4 BB, 12 SO), going at least
6.2 innings in each outing. However, the Irish have scored just three runs total in
the three games to help give McCarty a pair of losses and a no-decision. In those
three contests, McCarty's ERA was 2.11 while the Irish batting average was .172.
Hearne is 1-0 with a 2.50 ERA in seven appearances and has struck out 17 as compared
to just two walks.
At the plate, junior Blaise Lezynski leads the Irish in batting (.283) and has
recorded hits in 11 of Notre Dame's 14 games. In game one of Saturday's
doubleheader, Lezynski went 3-for-3 with two RBI. Also coming on as of late is the
freshman third baseman Fiala. The Carmel, Ind., native has a six-game hitting streak
and a 10-game on-base streak, with the latter being a team high so far this season.
In the last six games, Lezynski and Fiala lead the team in average (.333).
Appalachian State (4-11) enters Tuesday riding its first winning streak of the
season as the Mountaineers swept UNC Asheville fairly convincingly this past
weekend, winning by a score of 23-9. Sophomore Dillon Dobson leads the Mountaineers
with a .328 batting average, 19 hits and 10 RBI.
The pitching matchup will feature Hearne (1-0, 2.50 ERA) going against RHP Blake
Burkett (0-2, 14.54 ERA). The start will be Hearne's first of his career and will
come just a couple of outings after a brilliant relief appearance against Youngstown
State that saw him go 7.1 innings and give up just one hit and no runs (also no
walks) to help the Irish earn a come-from-behind 6-3 victory.
Fans can follow the mid-week contest through the live stats link on UND.com or by
listening to the voice of the Irish, Chuck Freeby, through WHME 103.1 FM or WatchND.
Appalachian State also offers streaming video by purchasing a month pass for $11.95.

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