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No. 10 Irish set program record in 26-3 win over UConn

Niko Kavadas cleared the bases in the first with a grand slam and Carter Putz and David LaManna each hit home runs in the third.
Updated: Jun. 5, 2021 at 11:55 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (Notre Dame Athletics) - In a matchup of the two top teams in the South Bend Regional, the 10th-ranked Notre Dame baseball team kept the home run parade going in the 26-3 win over Connecticut (34-18) Saturday night at Frank Eck Stadium. With the win, the Irish (32-11) advance to the Regional Final Sunday night and will await the winner of Connecticut and Central Michigan.

After hitting four home runs Friday afternoon, the Irish hit three home runs in the first three innings to build an early lead. Niko Kavadas cleared the bases in the first with a grand slam and Carter Putz and David LaManna each hit home runs in the third. Later in the game, Brooks Coetzee, Kavadas and Ryan Cole added home runs to give Notre Dame six for the game. The hot bats continued throughout the game as the Irish scored in seven of the nine innings. The Irish also set a postseason record for the most runs in an NCAA Tournament game. The previous record was 25 runs against South Alabama in 2002.

On the mound with the big lead, Will Mercer paced the Irish through the first seven innings. He allowed just two runs during his outing while he set a career high with seven innings pitched.

HOW IT HAPPENED

As the designated road team for the game, the Irish wasted no time taking the lead against the Huskies. The first four batters of the game reached base and in the process, scored the first run of the game. Jared Miller singled to right field and scored Spencer Myers to give the Irish an early advantage.

The Irish weren’t done in the top of the first as Kavadas stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. He took a high fastball the other way that cleared the wall and banged off the scoreboard for a grand slam. It was his third home run of the regional in just 10 innings of play so far. After the first frame, the Irish held a 5-0 lead.

Connecticut got a run back in the second as they put together three hits in the inning to plate its first run of the game. After two full innings, Notre Dame led 5-1.

In the third, it was more of the same for the Irish at the plate. They got the run right back on the first pitch of the inning when Putz launched a solo shot to center field. Later in the inning, LaManna hit his second home run in as many games with a two-run shot off the Jake Kline Field sign in left field.

Connecticut scored a run in the bottom half of the inning off a ground rule double and after three innings, the Irish held an 8-2 lead.

The Irish put another crooked number up on the scoreboard in the fourth. Kavadas walked with the bases loaded to score Myers for the first run of the inning. Coetzee singled through the right side to score two and then David LaManna singled up the middle to score one. After the inning was over, the Irish scored four more runs and led 12-2.

After a single run came home in the fifth, the Irish scored four more in the sixth. TJ Williams drove in Kavadas with a bases loaded walk and then Cole cleared the bases later in the inning. He doubled into the gap in left center to score all three runners.

After a Coetzee home run in the eighth, the Irish had their biggest inning in the ninth. They scored eight runs in the inning on the backs of home runs from Kavadas and Cole. Kavadas hit his fourth home of the regional while Cole tallied his second.

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STATS OF THE GAME

  • The 26 runs scored was a program record for the most in an NCAA Tournament game. The previous record was 25 runs against South Alabama in 2002.
  • Niko Kavadas hit two home runs in a game for the second-straight game in the regional. His second home run tied the program record for most home runs in a single season with Frank Jacobs who had 20 in 1991.
  • Kavadas set a career high with five runs and eight RBI.
  • It was the most RBI in a game since Jake Shepski had 9 against Virginia Tech in 2016.
  • It was also the most runs in a game since AJ Pollock had five back in 2008.
  • The Irish scored in double figures for their second straight game Saturday night. It is the first time since 1992 in the Atlantic Regional in Coral Gables that they have scored in double figures in back-to-back games in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Ryan Cole set a career high with six RBI while tying a career high with three runs and three hits.

UP NEXT

The Irish advance to the Regional Final Sunday night and will await the winner of the elimination game between Central Michigan and Connecticut. The first pitch is set for 6 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ESPN3. The Irish are one win away from advancing to the Super Regionals for the first time since 2002.