In their last non-conference game of the season, Northwestern (17-26, 6-9 B1G) dropped a disappointing game to ACC foe Notre Dame (23-23) by a score of 3-2 on Tuesday. Despite a quality start and six strikeouts from Josh Davis, two runs scored from leadoff hitter Alex Erro and a solid performance from the bullpen, the rest of Northwestern’s lineup could not do enough to come out on top.
Northwestern gained the advantage in the top of the first with some old-school baseball: a leadoff single from Erro, a sacrifice bunt from shortstop Jack Dunn and a double from cleanup hitter Matt Hopfner. However, Notre Dame set the tone for the game in the bottom of the inning by countering with two runs of their own when a leadoff home run from Nick Podkul and an RBI triple from catcher Ryan Lidge quickly erased the ‘Cats lead.
After that, it was a pitcher’s battle. Notre Dame can attribute the win to their starting pitcher, Charlie Vorsheck: His line of six innings, one earned run, and five strikeouts is impressive, but more impressive is his string of 14 consecutive Wildcats retired from the end of the 1st inning into the 6th. Vorsheck improved to 4-0 on the season and held two-time defending Big Ten Player of the Week Joe Hoscheit hitless. A Kyle Fiala home run off a rare Davis mistake in the bottom of the 3rd extended the Irish’s lead to 3-1 in what was otherwise a dull stretch of the game.
In the top of the 8th, the Wildcats made their bid at a comeback after a 1-out double from Dunn put two runners in scoring position for Joe Hoscheit. With Vorsheck out of the game, Hoscheit finally broke out and smacked an RBI single, but Hopfner killed the rally by grounding into a double play.
In the top of the 9th, southpaw closer Sean Guenther made short work of the ‘Cats, striking out the side and earning his sixth save. On the day, the Wildcats got no hits and just one baserunner in 17 at-bats from their 5-9 spots in the lineup.
Northwestern will return to Big Ten play in a three-game series at Purdue this weekend. With nine games to play, the ‘Cats are currently one game back of Michigan State for the eighth and final playoff spot.