Long Ball Dooms Noles vs. Fighting Irish

Posted at 11:40 PM, Mar 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-16 23:40:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Notre Dame (8-8, 2-2 ACC) hit three home runs Friday night, including a grand slam by Matt Vierling, and the Irish beat No. 7 Florida State (14-4, 1-3) 8-7 at Dick Howser Stadium. Drew Mendoza and Nick Derr each hit their second home runs of the season as FSU’s late rally came up a run short.


“Interesting ballgame. The fact that we weren’t able to pull it out is a testament to Notre Dame,” head coach Mike Martin said. “They made pitches when they needed to. That’s just the way it is.”

Cole Sands (4-1) allowed all three Fighting Irish home runs, including back-to-back home runs to the final two batters he faced in the seventh inning that extended Notre Dame’s lead to 8-2. He was looking to become the first FSU pitcher since 2011 to win each of his first five starts in a season.

Notre Dame starting pitcher Scott Tully (2-1) gave up four runs in 6.1 innings without striking out a batter and issuing just two walks. He exited after Nick Derr’s two-run home run in the seventh inning.

Notre Dame looked to score in the first inning before FSU nearly turned a triple play to end the threat. After the first two Irish batters reached base, Nick Podkul lined out to shortstop Mike Salvatore, who tagged second for the second out and threw to first for the triple play, but the ball got away from first baseman Rhett Aplin.

The Irish did strike in the third inning on Vierling’s grand slam. Spencer Myers and Cole Daily singled to start the inning and Podkul was intentionally walked to force the double play. Instead, Vierling hit a line drive home run over the left field wall that gave Notre Dame a 4-0 lead.

FSU got a run back in the bottom of the third. Nick Derr led off with a double and Jared Herron followed with a walk. Salvatore dropped a sacrifice bunt down that Tully tried to flip to first base. That throw went high and allowed Derr to score and Herron to advance to third base. Tully got out of the inning without any further damage.

Drew Mendoza hit his second home run of the year in the fourth inning to close the Irish lead to 4-2. He has homered in the last two games and has a career-high 10-game hitting streak.

After Vierling’s grand slam, Sands retired the next 12 batters before allowing a three-run home run to Jake Johnson and a solo shot to Podkul in the seventh inning to give Notre Dame an 8-2 lead.

Derr hit his second home run of the season to chase Tully in the bottom of the seventh. His two-run home run scored J.C. Flowers and made the score 8-4.

Andrew Belcik relieved Tully and allowed a one-out walk and single in the bottom of the eighth inning. Cole Kmet entered with the tying run on-deck and gave up a three-run home run to Steven Wells, his first of the season and third of his career.

With the score 8-7, Kmet allowed a leadoff single to Herron in the ninth before forcing three straight outs to end the game and FSU’s comeback attempt. It was Kmet’s second save of the season.

Winning Score

Nick Podkul’s solo home run in the seventh inning extended Notre Dame’s lead to 8-2. It was Notre Dame’s third home run of the game and was back-to-back with Jake Johnson’s three-run shot.

Of Note
  • Nick Derr hit his first double of the season to lead off the third inning. He hit his second home run of the season in the seventh inning.
  • Jared Herron drew the first walk of his career in the third inning. He hit his second career double in the fifth inning.
  • Derr and Herron have 11 combined hits on the season after each notched two Friday night. Both players have three extra base hits (Derr: 2 HR and a double; Herron: 2 2B and an HR).
  • Cole Sands allowed a grand slam to Matt Vierling in the third inning, just the second grand slam FSU has allowed in the past two seasons.
  • Sands allowed three home runs Friday, the first FSU pitcher since Dylan Silva in 2015 to allow three in a game.
  • Jake Johnson and Nick Podkul hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning. It was the first time since 2013 that an opposing team hit back-to-back home runs against Florida State.
  • Drew Mendoza’s home run was his second of the season and 12th of his career. He has homered in consecutive games and has a career-high 10-game hitting streak.
  • FSU struck out just one time Friday, its fewest in a game since May 8, 2016 vs. Bowling Green (also one).
  • Notre Dame’s win snapped a seven-game FSU winning streak in the series.
Up Next

Florida State hosts Notre Dame for game two of the series Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Due to women’s basketball that afternoon, the game will feature Eric Luallen on radio and as the audio for the ACC Network Extra coverage.

LHP Drew Parrish (1-0) will pitch for the Seminoles. Notre Dame will throw LHP Tommy Sheehan (1-1).

For more information on Florida State baseball, check for the latest news and scheduling information, or keep up with the team on social media through Twitter (@FSUBaseball), Facebook (/FSUBaseball), and Instagram (@NoleBaseball).