SOUTH BEND, Ind. — As was the case the entire series, Notre Dame outstanding pitching, solid defense and clutch hitting to top No. 8 Florida State 2-1 on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium and complete an impressive three-game sweep of the Seminoles that turned heads nationally and upped the Irish win streak to eight games.
“It’s really gratifying to see a group of players who work as hard as these guys have to have some success on this type of level,” said head coach Mik Aoki.
“In the grand scheme of things we can say that it’s just three games out of 30 in the ACC, and to a certain extent that’s true, but to be able to do it against a program with the history and tradition like Florida State has and to do it against a coaching staff that I have the greatest amount of respect for is special. But we have to be able to enjoy it for 24 hours and then we have to move on and go back out there and play and compete against Toledo Wednesday night.”
After home series sweeps at the hands of Louisville and Virginia, Notre Dame (24-10, 9-9 ACC) turned the page and has taken off since, claiming a series sweep at Pitt on Easter weekend, before taking down the Seminoles this weekend to firmly put it back in the Atlantic Coast Conference and NCAA Tournament picture.
Notre Dame struck first in the series finale on an RBI-double by sophomore Cavan Biggio in the fourth inning that scored sophomore Kyle Fiala from third base. One inning later, the eventual game-winning run came off the bat of junior Zak Kutsulis as he smacked a solo homer over the left-field fence to give Notre Dame a 2-0 lead.
Florida State trimmed the lead to one an inning later on an RBI-single from DJ Stewart, but the Irish pitching unit would give them no more. Besides the sixth inning, the Seminoles reached second base just two other times — once in the first frame and again in the ninth.
Freshman RHP Brad Bass made his first career start and turned in a solid 1.1 innings of work in his first outing since March 21. Junior Connor Hale followed Bass and had an outstanding 3.2 innings of work to earn his second career victory.
Hale, who entered the game with a runner on first, promptly induced a double play to end the second frame. He followed that effort with perfect third and fifth innings while allowing just a single in the fourth.
After running into a bit of trouble in the sixth, freshman Evy Ruibal entered the game with the bases loaded to relieve Hale. Facing Quincy Nieporte, Ruibal coaxed an outstanding 523 double play to prevent any runs from scoring. He then induced a foul out to Ryan Lidge behind the plate to get the Irish out of the inning with a 2-1 lead.
“I came in and wanted to attack the zone and rely on my fielders because they are always behind me 100 percent,” said Ruibal. “I’m glad they were out there for me when I needed them. We played well collectively as a team and when people are doing that it creates a winning atmosphere.
“With a lot of guys out, I had no idea how I would be used today, but I knew I had to be ready to go. I went about my business as usual and just tried to do my job.”