The University of Notre Dame plated two runs in the top of the first inning and rode the arms of senior Adam Norton, sophomore Donnie Hissa, freshman Zak Kutsulis, sophomore Cristian Torres and junior Dan Slania to a 3-1 victory over Tulane Saturday afternoon at Turchin Stadium. The Irish improved to 4-1 on the season, while the Green Wave dropped to 3-3. Notre Dame became the first non-conference foe to win a series at Tulane since April 2011.
“I thought they all made quality pitches when they needed to,” said third-year Irish coach Mik Aoki. “Cristian’s (Torres) inning was big because with the number of pitches that Danny (Slania) threw yesterday. In order for him to get that save, we were not going to be able to extend him beyond one inning. All of those guys at the back end were really, really good.”
Norton (2-0) was not his best, but battled through 5.0+ innings to pick up the victory. He scattered seven hits and allowed one earned run. Norton struck out five and walked two.
“I’m proud of Norty (Adam Norton) with the way he competed,” said Aoki. “He did not have his best stuff and scuffled at different times, but just found a way to get into the later innings.”
Norton gave way to an Irish bullpen that retired 12 of the 13 Tulane batters they faced, including the last eight Green Wave hitters. The only hit the quartet of Hissa, Kutsulis, Torres and Slania allowed was a bunt single in the seventh inning.
Slania picked up his second save in as many days. He tossed a perfect inning of relief. Slania has now collected 20 saves in his career, which ranks tied for the second most in school history. He joins Kyle Weiland (25, 2006-08), John Corbin (20, 1997-2000) and Ryan Doherty (20, 2003-05) as the only Irish pitchers with at least 20 career saves.
After Norton allowed a leadoff single to open the sixth inning, Hissa came out of the bullpen and worked out of a jam with Notre Dame clinging to a one-run lead, 2-1. Hissa was called for a balk that moved the tying run into scoring position, but the right-handed hurler got back-to-back groundouts before an inning-ending strikeout.
Notre Dame added a critical insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. Junior All-American candidate Eric Jagielo delivered a sacrifice fly to push the Irish lead to 3-1.
The two-run cushion was more than enough the rest of the way.
Kutsulis picked up a big strikeout with a runner in scoring position to end the seventh before Torres and Slania followed with 1-2-3 efforts in the eighth and ninth inning.
Kutsulis was the only Irish player with a multi-hit outing. He went 2-for-3. Jagielo went 1-for-2 with a walk and run scored. Sophomore Ryan Bull went 1-for-4 with an RBI double.
Tulane’s Alex Byo was charged with the loss and dropped to 0-1. He allowed three runs, two earned, on eight hits in 6.1 innings of work. Byo fanned three and walked three. David Napoli tossed 2.2 scoreless innings.
Notre Dame wasted no time and grabbed a first-inning advantage. Byo walked senior Frank DeSico to start the game. DeSico subsequently scored the first run of the day on a throwing error after he stole second base and advanced to third on a fly out. Byo intentionally walked Jagielo - who stole second base - and scored on Bull’s double down the left field line.
The Irish and Green Wave return to action at Noon CT Sunday for the weekend series finale. Freshman David Hearne will take the mound for Notre Dame.