Early struggles, lights out bullpen too much for CMU baseball to overcome in loss to No. 10 Notre Dame

Orange, Calif. sophomore Justin Simpson flies through the air while throwing the ball to get a double play, April 10.

Zach Gilles leaped out as the last defense. 

The senior's attempt to keep the game tied in the first inning came up short. Ryan Cole scored and Carter Putz cruised into third, putting Notre Dame on the board and setting the tone for the Fighting Irish's early offensive onslaught. 

No. 10 Notre Dame, ranked as high as seventh in the country by Baseball America, routed the Chippewas 8-2 Tuesday afternoon at Frank Eck Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. 

"We just did not, in my opinion, come out all that sharp," coach Jordan Bischel said. "We had some good opportunities with a lot of runners on base and couldn't really put together a good at-bat to get us a big inning when we needed one." 

Key moments

CMU starter J.T. Rogoszewski, coming off a start of just 1 1/3 innings, struggled to get out of the first inning.The North Carolina transfer was able to retire two of the first three hitters he faced before surrendering a triple to Putz and a single to Jack Brannigan. An error and a catcher's interference compounded the issue, making it 3-0 Notre Dame at the end of one. 

The Chippewas responded with two runs in the top of the second behind the second career RBI of freshman catcher Drew Stengren. However, a bases loaded groundout limited the threat. Notre Dame starter Liam Simon went just 1 2/3 innings before being pulled for Alex Rao. 

With Rogoszewski lasting just two innings, Bischel was forced to lean on little used members of his bullpen early. Sophomore left-hander Ryan Culley made his first appearance since March 26 but lasted just 1/3 inning. He was pulled after allowing a hit, a walk and hitting a batter while recording only a strikeout. 

Junior righty Aaron Husson made his fourth appearance of the year in relief of Culley in the third. Husson struggled with his control and lasted only an inning after surrenduring four walks. Junior right-hander Logan Buczkowski made his eight appearance of the season when he replaced Husson with one out in the fourth.

Buczkowski stopped the damage in the fourth, then pitched a scoreless fifth to right the ship and keep the deficit at 8-2 heading into the sixth. His steady performance was pivotal for the Chippewas, who went deeper into their bullpen than originally planned. 

"He's just pounding the strike zone," Bischel said of Buczkowski. "He's always had good stuff. Mid to low 90's fastball with good life, a good breaking ball. He's always had the ability and he's had some good outings but it's all about consistency."

The Chippewas mounted a rally in the top of the seventh when Mario Camilletti, Jakob Marsee and Garrett Navarra loaded the bases with walks. Senior Zach Heeke struck out to end the threat without any scoring. 

Heeke singled in two runs in the ninth but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. Colton Coca grounded out to end the game two batters later. 

Key stats

Rogoszewski (L, 1-2) continued to struggle with early control. He failed to reach the fifth inning for the sixth time in seven starts, lasting two innings while allowing four runs on five hits. 

"He just needs to execute his fastball better," Bischel said. "He's never been an overpowering guy, he's got a ton of movement on his fastball. You look back at a start like Ohio a few weeks ago when he was successful, he just throws the fastball where he wants it when he's sharp. When he's not, when he gets the ball up, he becomes very hittable."

Buczkowski extended his scoreless streak to 7 1/3 innings with 1 2/3 shutout innings. Sophomores Ian Leatherman and Ryan Palmblad each contributed a scoreless inning, as did freshman righty Ben Vitas. 

Marsee led the team with four walks and a single while Drew Lechnir drew three walks. Heeke and Stengren each had hits in the second inning, but the Chippewas were held hitless after that until freshman Colton Coca and sophomore Justin Simpson singled in the eighth. Heeke finished with two hits to lead the team. 

"It's not that we're up there to walk," Bischel said. "But we're up there to get good pitches to hit. We're gonna make you drive the ball into the strike zone." 

Rao (W, 1-0) earned his first win of the season with his shutout performance. Putz led the Fighting Irish offense with four hits and two RBI. Kyle Hess also had two RBI for Notre Dame. Jack Zyska reached base via walk twice and power-hitting first baseman Niko Kavadas was hit by a pitch twice. 

Up next

The Chippewas return home for a four game weekend series against Kent State at Theunissen Stadium. CMU and Kent State are scheduled to play one game at 3 p.m. Friday, a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Saturday and one game Sunday at 1 p.m.