Four Notre Dame hurlers combined for a shutout while its offense did the vast majority of its damage in a five-run second inning in a 6-0 win over the Crusaders at Frank Eck Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The Irish brought eight runners to the plate in the ill-fated second. Right fielder Robert Youngdahl opened the frame with a single to center off starter Connor Kaucic (Chardon, Ohio/Notre Dame Cathedral Latin). He came in to score one pitch later when Ryan Lidge deposited a double to left. After a four-pitch walk to Lane Richards, first baseman Zac Kutsulis sacrificed both runners up 90 feet and into scoring position. Pinch hitter James Nevant expanded Notre Dame's lead to 2-0 with an RBI groundout to Crusader shortstop Spencer Mahoney (La Grange Park, Ill./Lyons Township).
Kaucic appeared to be out of the inning when he induced a ground ball off the bat of Mac Hudgins with two outs. However, the last bounce took a wicked hop and Mahoney was unable to retire the Irish leadoff batter. Richards touched home on the error as the home team jumped ahead 3-0. Kyle Fiala took full advantage of the miscue as he cracked an 0-1 offering over the left-field wall for a two-run homer.
Notre Dame starter Scott Tully kept the Valpo bats quiet during his five-inning tenure on the mound. He allowed just three hits while striking out three. The left-hander did not walk a batter.
Valpo's best opportunity came in the sixth when Mahoney greeted freshman right-hander Charlie Vorsheck with a leadoff double to the right-center gap. Nolan Lodden (West Des Moines, Iowa/West Des Moines Valley [Heartland CC]) followed with a single to center, but with a five-run deficit and no outs, he was met with a stop sign at third base. Vorsheck two-stepped his way out of the threat unscathed thanks to a strike out, a foul out, and a ground out.
Drew Hasler (South Bend, Ind./Mishawaka Marian) did his part to keep the Crusaders in it. The junior tossed four shutout innings in relief of Kaucic.
The Irish added an insurance tally in their final at-bat in the eighth. Three relievers helped preserve Notre Dame's second straight midweek shutout.
Lodden raised his average to .365 after his 2-for-4 day at the plate.
Valpo (10-17, 6-5 Horizon) will now gear up for a three-game series against Horizon League foe Oakland (5-19, 3-8 Horizon). Dalton Lundeen (2-3, 4.74) will make his eighth start of the season on Friday at 3:00 pm CT. Links to the audio and live stats are available at ValpoAthletics.com.