Chuck In the Armor - 4.4.12

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
563583_392201520799155_150002341685742_1472064_1179325124_n.jpg Since the Irish wore the throwback uniforms last week - and I wore the throwback fedora - let me share a throwback moment with you.

Prior to my first season as a hockey broadcaster 20 years ago, I had stopped in to chat with Notre Dame hockey coach Ric Schafer. I wanted to know the sport I would be broadcasting better, so I asked him "what's the one thing every hockey fan should know that they don't?"

Ric didn't hesitate. He replied quickly "It's a very simple game. It's a race to four. If you get to four, you win 95 percent of the time."

In hockey, it's four. For Notre Dame's baseball team, the magic number is six.

When the Irish hold teams to five runs or less this year, they are 14-1. Let me repeat that ... 14-1 when the opponent scores five or less. That's 93 percent of the time, and good enough for me.

The staff earned run average is 3.97, so it stands to reason if the Irish don't give the other team help, an average outing should be enough to earn a win. And another stat backs that up. When Notre Dame makes one error or none, they are 15-5.

In fact, there are very few innings where the other team is scoring without some help from the Irish. Over the last 10 games, there have been 25 different innings when the opponent has scored. 20 of those innings featured at least one walk or error.

And at the risk of deluging you in statistics, here's one from the Irish offense that bears mentioning. When the Irish are successful, it's because the bottom of the order helps the cause. Over those last 10 games, the bottom third of the Irish order (usually Alex Robinson, Charlie Markson and the shortstop of the day) is 21-for-69 (.304) in seven wins and 5-for-29 (.172) in three losses. When those 7-8-9 hitters do something, Notre Dame's lineup is formidable.

As Durham Bulls manager Joe Riggins once told his lollygagging team, "This is a very simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. You catch the ball." When the Irish do those things, they are tough to beat.

That's good news heading into a weekend series with Seton Hall, a team that has really struggled at the plate this year. The defending Big East tournament champs are 13-14 overall, 2-4 in league play. They can beat good teams, as evidenced by a 5-2 win at Virginia. They can lose to bad teams, such as a 3-1 home loss to St. Peter's.

The inconsistency is mainly because the Pirates are batting .237 as a team. Seton Hall plays in the biggest park in America east of Yellowstone (it's about an eighth of a mile to right center) so Rob Sheppard's team plays small ball to manufacture runs ... bunting, stealing bases. That means the Irish bunt defense, which has been everywhere from nifty to non-existent, needs to be ready.

On the mound, Seton Hall has a bonafide ace in Jon Prosinski, but relies heavily on the bullpen after that. With a staff ERA even lower than Notre Dame's (3.73), the Pirates would like to make this a low-scoring series.

A Notre Dame team much worse than this one swept the Pirates in South Orange two years ago. A series win is definitely doable, and a must if the Irish have conference title aspirations.

The race to six is on.

It's a very simple game.

- Chuck Freeby ('86)

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://cstv.collegesports.com/mt/mt-tb.cgi/33662

Leave a comment




Recent Comments