This isn't the way you expect to start a season, or a coaching tenure. But Greg Elie isn't complaining.
The new head baseball coach at Notre Dame was prepared for just about anything in his first game Tuesday afternoon. But he could hardly be faulted if he didn't expect his Fighting Irish to come out and put 20-0 skunking on Grace Academy in a chilly contest played on the Irish's Hunter Field.
Two of the Irish's few returning seniors shone brightest on a good day for just about everybody. Shortstop Nick Chambers went 3-for-4 with a double and four RBIs and right-hander Matt Roche' allowed only two hits while striking out seven in the five-inning complete game. He also had a two-run double and stolen base in three official trips.
"We're still a young team," Elie said. "We have only three seniors, but we're well-rounded and we have good chemistry. We just try to do the right thing."
The Irish played errorless ball behind Roche's performance and both he and catcher Grayson Hargett nailed a wold-be base stealer. Grace's big third baseman, Austin Powell, had both of his team's hits, one a sliced double just inside the first base bag.
The Irish had 12 hits, but only five of them came in the wacky 13-run second inning, when Notre Dame came within one man of batting around twice. But the day had become a train wreck for the Golden Eagles before that.
Grace starter, right-hander Zach Dean, was unable to get through the first inning due to an ongoing battle with blood sugar that left him light-headed. Dean left the game with two out, one on and one man in. Lefty Isaac Ateca gave up the inherited baserunner, but got out of the inning otherwise unscathed. But in the second, his own control problems compounded the Irish's own booming bats.
In the process of scoring 13 runs, Notre Dame had five hits, six walks, two hit batsmen and a key error that made all but the first two runs unearned. Wyatt Morrison had to close out the inning for Grace, and he would be touched for five unearned runs in the third as the Golden Eagles committed three of their five errors.
"This is just the way baseball works," Elie said. "We know they're a good team, it could be 2-1 the next time we play. You don't expect results like this any day."
Joining Chambers with a multi-hit game were second baseman Jared Andrews (2-2, 3 runs, 3 RBIs), and third baseman Alex Darras (2-3 with a walk and two RBIs). Special mentio0n goes to Joe Enos, courtesy runner for catcher and leadoff man Grayson Hargett, as he scored three times, or each time Hargett reached base.
The Irish next take the field Thursday in Athens as part of the weekend tournament. Grace tries to get back on track with Bledsoe County on Thursday.
Grace Academy 000 00 -- 0 2 5
Notre Dame 2(13)5 0x -- 20 12 0
Zach Dean (0-1), Ateca (1), Morrison (2) and Jensen; Matt Roche' (1-0) and Hargett. Records: Grace Academy 0-1; Notre Dame 1-0.