No. 12 Irish shut down No. 17 Pitt, 4-1
PITTSBURGH — The 12th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team continued its success on the road with a 4-1 win in the series opener against Pitt Saturday afternoon at Charles L. Cost Field.
“(Will) Mercer, (Tanner) Kohlhepp and (Joe) Sheridan all pitched effectively in conjunction with solid defense against a very good Pitt team,” said head coach Link Jarrett. “The play in the first inning when (Brooks) Coetzee played the ball off the wall, and (Niko) Kavadas threw the lead runner out at the plate was a big moment.”
The Irish (12-4, 11-4 ACC) struck first with two runs via the long ball in the fourth by Carter Putz and Niko Kavadas. The pitching and defense was stellar for Notre Dame as they kept the Panthers (12-9, 8-8 ACC) off the scoreboard until the final inning.
“(Mitch) Myers, their starting pitcher, has been so consistent and tough all year,” said Jarrett. “He really pitches a quality game. Putz has driven several balls with authority to right center field this season and drove one out on a very nice swing. Kavadas worked into a good count and drove a low fastball nicely as well.”
Will Mercer, Tanner Kohlhepp and Joe Sheridan combined for the win, allowing just one run and five hits throughout the game. Notre Dame added two more runs in the top of the ninth to put the game out of reach and clinch their sixth-straight road win.
“Turning three double plays was obviously a huge piece in the efficiency of the game and the pitching and defense combination has a way of keeping teams in games,” stated Jarrett. “Scoring two runs in the ninth was good to see and hopefully we can continue to evolve offensively.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
Pitt looked to jump out to an early lead in the first when Ron Washington doubled to the wall in right. Kyle Hess was trying to score from first but a perfect relay from Brooks Coetzee to Kavadas to David LaManna gunned Hess down at the plate and got the Irish out of the inning.
Both teams did not make a dent in the scoreboard until the top of the fourth when the Irish bats came alive. Putz got the Irish started with a solo home run to center field for his first homer of the season. Kavadas doubled the lead later in the inning with his 11th home run of the season, a 441-foot solo shot to right field. After four innings, Notre Dame held a 2-0 lead.
Mercer had a solid outing for the Irish against the Panthers. He tossed four innings of work and kept Pitt scoreless while striking out four. Kohlhepp came on for the Irish in the fifth and continued the strong play on the mound for the Irish.
Kohlhepp pitched three innings of work. He did not allow the Panthers to get a hit during that time while striking out two. The Irish turned to Sheridan in the eighth to shut the door.
The Irish added two insurance runs in the ninth as Putz and Kavadas scored their second runs of the game on base hits from LaManna and Coetzee. That was more than enough offense for Sheridan as he tossed the final two innings to earn the save and clinch the win.
STATS OF THE GAME
- Niko Kavadas hit his 11th home run of the season to lead the team. He has totaled 35 career home runs which places him sixth all-time in team history.
- Carter Putz hit his first home run of the season to open the scoring in the fourth inning.
- Notre Dame clinched its sixth-straight road win and improved to 8-2 on the road this season.
The Irish will take the field on Easter Sunday in hopes of clinching the series. LHP John Michael Bertrand will be on the mound for the Irish as Sunday’s game is set for a 3 p.m. ET start and will be aired on the ACC Network Extra.