Ben Auwaerter | March 24, 2017
On a blustery home-opener at Frank Eck Stadium, the University of Notre Dame baseball team exhibited great plate discipline in a 12-1 victory over Northern Illinois. The win featured a pair of five-run innings, as well as a season-high 12 walks. The Irish are now 7-12 on the season and have won four of their last five games.
A group of Irish pitchers proved tough to handle on Tuesday night. Scott Tully, Charlie Vorsheck, Cameron Brown, Shane Combs and Ryan Smoyer combined to hold NIU batters to five hits, striking out nine Huskies in the process. It was a special night in particular for Combs, who made his Notre Dame debut after an injury caused him to miss his freshman season. Tully was credited with the win and moved to 2-0 on the season as the senior continues to operate on a pitch count as he returns from surgery.
Matt Vierling had an exceptional day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with one run, two walks and two RBI. Cole Daily also frustrated Husky pitchers with his 2-3, one walk outing. The two sophomores upped their batting averages to .348 and .347, respectively, with their efforts.
Tully rolled through the first two innings, having struck out five straight Huskies at the start of the third. Northern Illinois finally got to the Irish lefty when Carl Russell ripped a double to open the inning. After a productive groundout, a Husky sacrifice fly scored Russell and gave NIU a 1-0 lead.
The Irish responded in a big way in the bottom half of the frame. Junior Jake Johnson led things off with a walk. After Johnson scurried to second on a wild pitch, Kyle Fiala lined a single to center field, scoring Johnson and tying up the game. Following a Huskie error, the Irish displayed excellent patience at the plate. Five Notre Dame walks forced in four more runs, giving the home team a 5-1 lead.