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Kavadas powers No. 14 Irish to 6-3 win over Valparaiso

Senior slugger Niko Kavadas continued his torrid pace at the plate as he hit two solo home runs to lift the Irish
Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 11:46 PM EDT
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The 14th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team got back on track Tuesday evening with a 6-3 win over Valparaiso at Frank Eck Stadium in its first midweek contest of the season.

“There were some bright spots in the win as we never had control of the game until late,” head coach Link Jarrett said. “Will (Mercer) and Liam (Simon) both pitched well out of the bullpen as we navigated the game. Niko (Kavadas) delivered another big blow as he has continued to do since I have been here. It was a solid win against a team they knew exactly what they were doing when they came in here.”

Senior slugger Niko Kavadas continued his torrid pace at the plate as he hit two solo home runs to lift the Irish (10-3, 9-3 ACC) to their 10th win of the season. He has hit five home runs in his last five games and has nine home runs on the season in just 13 games.

The Irish bullpen pieced together the win on Tuesday as five pitchers were used. Will Mercer and Liam Simon combined for the final five innings of work and the pair allowed just two hits and no runs. Mercer tied a career high with five strikeouts to earn his first win of the season. Simon struck out four over the final two innings to earn the save.

HOW IT HAPPENED

The bats for both teams were quiet until the bottom of the fourth inning. Kavadas led off the inning for the Irish and he took the first pitch the other way over the wall for a solo blast. It was his eighth home run of the season and put the Irish in front. Notre Dame tacked on another run in the inning after an RBI single from Zack Prajzner scored Ryan Cole from second.

The lead did not last long as Valparaiso answered right back in the top of the fifth. They took their first lead of the game after plating three runs in the inning.

The Irish jumped back in front in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Irish had the tying run 90 feet away as Jack Brannigan laid down a sacrifice bunt that allowed Cole to score from third and tie the game. After a Spencer Myers walk, Carter Putz laced a single through the right side that Coetzee beat the throw home to put the Irish up 4-3.

The Irish got two more runs the next inning and it was Kavadas again leading off the inning. Just like he did in the fourth inning, Kavadas took the first pitch of the seventh over the wall in left center for his second solo blast. It is his second multi-home run game of the season and the third of his career. Later in the inning, Cole came home to score for the third time on a sacrifice fly from Prajzner to put the Irish up 6-3.

STATS OF THE GAME

  • Niko Kavadas recorded his second multi-home run game this season and the third of his career in the win.
  • Kavadas has hit five home runs over the last five games and has tallied nine home runs in 13 games this season.
  • He currently has 33 home runs for his career which is tied for eighth all-time in program history.
  • Ryan Cole set a career high with three runs.
  • Will Mercer tied a career high with five strikeouts.

UP NEXT

The 14th-ranked Irish are set for a top-15 matchup this weekend as they welcome the seventh-ranked Louisville Cardinals into town. It will be the first top-15 matchup all-time at Frank Eck Stadium as both teams own the top-two spots in the Atlantic Division. The series kicks off Friday at 4 p.m. ET and will be aired on the ACC Network Extra.