Pat Connaughton was launching three-pointers in the NCAA Basketball Tournament less than a week ago, but he was firing fastballs Tuesday night for the Notre Dame baseball team. Connaughton pitched two shutout innings in his first start of the season to help the Irish to an 8-1 win over Kent State at the U.S. Steelyard in Gary, Ind.
Connaughton struckout one in two perfect innings before exiting on a night that saw temperatures hover in the 30s. He needed 32 pitches to retire all six batters he faced. The game was moved from South Bend due to snow last week.
The Irish (15-6) fell behind 1-0 when Kent State (8-13) plated a run in the top of the 4th off Irish reliever Matt Ternowchek. Notre Dame answered with a run in the bottom of the inning thanks to an RBI triple by freshman Zak Kutsulis.
The floodgates opened an inning later when Notre Dame scored five runs. Kutsulis collected two more RBIs with a single through the right side of the infield. Ternowchek (3-0) earned the win after yielding Kent State's lone run in 3.2 innings of relief. He had not surrendered a run in his previous 15.0 innings to begin the season.
Kent State was making its first appearance in the U.S. Steelyard, where its run to the 2012 College World Series began last June. The Golden Flashes won the NCAA Regional hosted there by Purdue with wins over the Boilermakers and Kentucky before then winning two more games over Oregon the following weekend to earn a berth in Omaha.
Notre Dame travels to Louisville for a Thursday-Saturday Big East series this weekend.