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With two outs and runners on the corners, Notre Dame second baseman Miranda Johnson stepped up to the plate. The Fighting Irish had already jumped out to a 5-0 lead, with one of those runs being knocked in earlier in the inning. Johnson lifted Kaia Oliver’s pitch deep into the cloudy skies and deposited it past the fence in right field, putting Notre Dame up 8-0.
After a close game Friday that Notre Dame won 5-2, the Fighting Irish already had the required margin of victory for a mercy rule win only five innings into Saturday’s game. Oliver finished out the inning, and Summer Clark allowed just one run in three innings of relief, but ND’s early damage was too much for the Orange to overcome.
Syracuse (19-14, 3-10 Atlantic Coast) lost its second straight game of the series to Notre Dame (30-7, 9-3 ACC) 9-0 and ended after five innings due to the mercy rule being invoked. In just two innings, Oliver allowed eight runs to score off five hits and two walks, ballooning her season ERA from 4.98 to 7.11.
Angel Jasso advanced to third base on a wild pitch in the first inning, but after that, Syracuse did not advance a runner past second base. Notre Dame, on the other hand, capitalized on its baserunners, scoring four more runs than it did in the series’ first game despite four fewer hits. ND pitcher Alexis Holloway pitched her fifth shutout of the year, giving up four hits and four walks across five innings.
The game was originally scheduled for 1 p.m., but with a band of rain clouds on the horizon, it was postponed until 2:30, and then again until 5 p.m. It rained shortly during the fourth and fifth innings, but play continued.
Four hours after she was originally scheduled to start, Oliver struggled immediately in the top of the first inning. She allowed a leadoff single to Leea Hanks and then loaded the bases with two outs thanks to a Karina Gaskins walk and a Johnson hit by pitch. For the second day in a row, Hanks scored Notre Dame’s first run with two outs in the first inning, but this time the Fighting Irish scored multiple times in the first frame. Abby Sweet singled up the middle to drive in Hanks and Gaskins and advanced to second on the throw. Joley Mitchell followed Sweet’s two-run single with one of her own to put the Fighting Irish up 4-0.
Syracuse put runners on the corners with one out in the bottom of the frame, but Kelly Breen struck out and Laila Alves flew out to end the inning and remove the threat.
In the second inning, Oliver appeared to settle in some after striking out the first two batters of the inning, and four of the first five outs she induced were by strikeout. But Emma Clark spoiled Oliver’s chances of a perfect inning. Emma tried to slap-hit the pitch but ended up running into it, becoming the second batter that Oliver had hit in the game. For the second straight start, Oliver hit two batters after hitting just one in her previous eight appearances of the season. After Emma advanced to second on a wild pitch, Gaskins drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch to put runners on first and second. Designated player Jane Kronenberger, who tallied three singles Friday, singled into right field, scoring Emma. To put the game out of reach, Johnson cleared the bases with a three-run home run, giving Notre Dame an 8-0 lead.
“There’s nothing we can do about balls that fly over the fence,” head coach Shannon Doepking said after a loss to Florida State last season. Neither Doepking, nor any of Syracuse’s players or coaches, were made available to the media postgame at Skytop Softball Stadium on Saturday.
Summer replaced Oliver to start the third inning but allowed fellow pitcher Holloway to homer to right-center field, the second straight day that the Notre Dame starter had hit a home run. But after allowing Holloway’s home run, Summer settled down, allowing only two additional hits and a walk for the remainder of her outing.
Syracuse appeared to threaten in the bottom of the fourth with runners on first and second, but Holloway struck out the next three batters in order — all swinging — to escape the jam. In the fifth inning, the Orange put runners on first and second again, but Breen struck out to end the game for the second day in a row, dropping SU’s conference record further in the process.
The post Syracuse pitching struggles in 9-0 loss to Notre Dame appeared first on The Daily Orange.