Feb 19, 2013, 2:09 PM EDT
Less than 12 hours after arriving at their hotel in Sarasota, Fla., the Irish took the diamond for their season opener in the Snowbird Classic against Florida Gulf Coast this past Saturday. Another six hours later, the Irish had completed a thrilling comeback and earned a blowout victory on their way to their first Opening Day doubleheader sweep since 1992.
The Irish trailed for essentially the entire game against Florida Gulf Coast, losing 5-3 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. After senior co-captain Charlie Markson reached base on a one-out single, junior 3B and All-American candidate Eric Jagielo bombed a 400-foot home run to deep centerfield to tie the game, 5-5.
In the bottom of the tenth inning, the other senior co-captain Frank DeSico broke out of a 0-4 hole in the game with a walk-off, two-out RBI single. The unsung hero of the game was freshman pitcher Nick McCarty who pitched 5.0 shutout innings in relief in his first collegiate appearance to keep the Irish in the game.
“Going into the ninth inning, it was really nice to see the team at no point thinking we were going to lose, even though we had been down the whole game,” said Markson about the team’s resolve. “I think that’s an attitude that hasn’t existed on any team that I’ve played for at Notre Dame in my four years here.”
DeSico and Jagielo carried over the magic of the comeback into the nightcap against Ohio State, powering the Irish to a 13-3 win over the Buckeyes. DeSico went 4-4 in his first four plate appearances against the Buckeyes, including a two-run homer. Jagielo finished the game with 5 RBI and 3 more hits, including a three-run home run. Senior pitcher Adam Norton earned the W for the Irish with 7.0 excellent innings, four strikeouts, and only three earned runs allowed.
“It was really nice to see freshmen like Zak Kutsulis and Nick McCarty go out there and work flawlessly in our staff,” Markson said of the team’s pitching. “Adam Norton went out there and did what he always does – just grinded for us, ate up innings, and threw strikes.”
Unfortunately, the luck of the Irish ran out in Sunday’s 5-4 loss to Mercer in the title game of the Snowbird Classic. With Jagielo on base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, junior 1B Trey Mancini represented the winning run. Mancini’s deep fly ball was knocked down before the warning track and caught for the final out. Freshman hurler David Hearne pitched well in his first career start, giving up three earned runs and striking out eight over 5.0 innings.
“Obviously, coming out of this weekend with a 2-1 record is a positive, but at the same time we wanted to be 3-0, and we think that we could have been 3-0. It does give us confidence going into New Orleans next weekend when we play Tulane,” said Markson.
The Irish open up a three-game road series at Tulane this Friday at 6:30 ET.
“There are definitely a lot of positives. Obviously, there are also a lot of things we can work on – no team is perfect – but we are confident going into next weekend and hopefully we will come out of it 3-0.”
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