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    A New Home

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    While our student-athletes have been working hard in preparation for the start of the fall season, we've also made a few improvements in anticipation of the new school year.

    From this point forward, Irish UNDerground will be utilizing the Wordpress platform powered by NBC Sports.

    Here's a look at our three new blog websites:

    UNDerground: Notre Dame Athletics

    Strong and True: Notre Dame Football

    Irish United: Notre Dame Men's and Women's Soccer

    Go ahead and bookmark these now. With features, videos, photos, commentaries and news from inside the athletic department, we are committed to bringing you coverage of Notre Dame athletics unlike any you can find elsewhere.

    Get ready. 2012-13 is going to be an exciting year to be Irish.

    There Are Over 360 Species of Sharks ...

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    jsharktwo.jpg

    ... but here are two of our favorites!

    (Very) Super Regionals - Game 3

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    nd-celebrate-061002-lg.jpg Irish Underground takes a look at the 10-year anniversary of Notre Dame baseball and its trek to the World Series with a glance at the final game of the 2002 Super Regionals.

    Notre Dame halted the Seminoles' 25-game winning streak, an Atlantic Coast Conference record and one of the longest winning streaks in Division I baseball history.

     

    Game 3 - June 10, 2002 - Recap | Box Score | Quotes | Photos

    Baseball Advances To College World Series With 3-1 Win

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - No. 11 Notre Dame (49-16) became the eighth team to earn a spot in the College World Series field with a 3-1 Super Regional victory over No. 1 Florida State (60-14) as 5,195 fans looked on at Dick Howser Stadium. Freshman right-hander Chris Niesel (4-0) held the Seminoles in check all day, allowing just six hits and one earned run in eight innings of work.

    Notre Dame took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning when Steve Sollman singled home Joe Thaman from second base with two outs. Thaman was on after drawing a walk and had moved to second on a groundout.

    The Irish got another two-out run in the fourth to make it 2-0. Kris Billmaier singled to center, moved to third on Paul O'Toole's single and scored on a base hit by Javier Sanchez. Notre Dame got an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh to push the lead to 3-0. O'Toole singled and Thaman grounded to second with one out on what looked to be an inning-ending double play, but

    FSU second baseman Bryan Zech committed an error to put runners on first and second. Steve Stanley's bunt single loaded the bases and O'Toole scored on Steve Sollman's sacrifice fly to center.

    The Seminoles mounted a late rally in the top of the eighth. Bryan Zech doubled and came around to score on Tony Richie's two-out single off the wall in right. Notre Dame left fielder Brian Stavisky ended the inning with a sliding catch of Jerrod Brown's fly ball in fall territory. Florida State starter Marc LaMacchia (10-2) pitched well in the loss, giving up two earned runs on six hits in 6.1 innings. LaMacchia walked two and struck out two.

    Notre Dame now advances to the College World Series in Omaha, NE to play the Stanford Cardinal. It is the second World Series trip ever for the Irish and their first since 1957.

    (Very) Super Regionals - Game 2

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    76560_ssollmann.jpg Irish Underground continues its presentation of a flashback to Notre Dame's 2002 World Series run and its 10-year anniversary of conquering Florida State in the Super Regionals.

    Game 2 - June 8, 2002 - Recap | Box Score | Quotes

    Irish Fall To Florida State, 12-5

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - No. 1 Florida State (60-13) scored eight runs in the top of the first inning and went on to defeat No. 11 Notre Dame (48-16) by a score of 12-5 in NCAA Super Regional action at Dick Howser Stadium Sunday afternoon. Stephen Drew led the way for FSU with a career-high five hits and four runs scored while Jerrod Brown added three RBI. The 2002 Seminoles tied an ACC record with their 60th win and became just the second team in school history to win 60 games, joining the 1986 team that went 61-13.

    After getting behind early in each of their four previous NCAA Tournament games, the Seminoles reversed that trend in dramatic fashion with eight runs in the top of the first inning. Drew led off with a double and Tony McQuade and Ryan Barthelemy walked to load the bases. Brown knocked in two with a double to right, making him 14-for-17 on the season with the bases loaded. Nick Rogers walked to load the bases again and Blair McCaleb did the same to bring in another run. Mike Futrell followed with an RBI-single to left. A pair of Notre Dame errors on Bryan Zech's grounder to second cleared the bases and made it 7-0. In his second at bat of the inning, Drew scored Zech from second with a base hit.

    The Irish answered with four runs in the bottom half of the first to cut the lead in half. Steve Stanley, Steve Sollman, Brian Stavisky and Andrew Bushey started the rally with four straight singles. Stavisky and Bushey each picked up an RBI. After a sacrifice fly from Matt Bok scored Stavisky, Kris Billmaier made it 8-4 with an RBI-double.

    Drew sparked FSU again in the fourth with a double off the screen to start the inning. McQuade knocked him in with a single up the middle. A Tony Richie single put McQuade on third before Brown came through with his third RBI of the day on a fielder's choice to make it 10-4.

    Barthelemy made it 11-4 when his singled home Drew in the fifth. Stavisky doubled home a run for the Irish in the bottom of the eighth and FSU added another on Barthelemly's second RBI of the day for the final of 12-5.

    Senior right-hander Blair Varnes (10-3) earned the victory after giving up four runs in the first, holding the Irish scoreless over the next 5.2 innings. Notre Dame starter Pete Ogilvie (7-4) took the loss after surrendering eight runs (seven earned) and recording just one out in the first inning.

    (Very) Super Regionals - Game 1

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    2462974.jpegWith NCAA Super Regionals opening today, it's impossible to forget Notre Dame and its remarkable run to the 2002 College World Series. The Irish opened their 2002 NCAA Super Regional at top-ranked Florida State exactly 10 years ago yesterday. UND.com and Irish Underground will present over the next three days full recaps, stats, photos and memories from that unforgettable weekend.

    Notre Dame halted the Seminoles' 25-game winning streak, an Atlantic Coast Conference record and one of the longest winning streaks in Division I baseball history. Such events have become a tradition for Irish athletic teams, led by the following:

    - Nov. 17, 1957 - Dick Lynch's TD provides the only scoring as the ND football team wins at 2nd-ranked Oklahoma, 7-0, ending the Sooners' 47-game winning streak (still the NCAA record)

    - Jan. 19, 1974 - Dwight Clay's jumper from the corner provides the winning points in the closing seconds as the ND men's basketball team halts UCLA's 88-game winning streak (still the NCAA record) in a 71-70 thriller

    - Oct. 2, 1994 - The Notre Dame women's soccer team plays to a 0-0 tie versus perennial power North Carolina in a game played in St. Louis, stopping UNC's 92-game winning streak (still the NCAA record) ... one year later, the Irish women's soccer team claims the national title (with wins over UNC and Portland in the College Cup semifinals and final)

    - Jan. 15, 2001 - The Notre Dame women's basketball team stuns BIG EAST Conference rival Connecticut, 92-76, in a midseason game at the Joyce Center - halting UConn's 30-game win streak and vaulting ND on to the national title.

    - June 7, 2002 - The Notre Dame baseball team ends top-ranked Florida State's 25-game winning streak with a 10-4 win at Howser Stadium, in the first game of an NCAA Super Regional series.

    The two victories by Notre Dame over the nation's top-ranked team was nothing knew for the program. The Irish defeated No.1 twice previously in NCAA Tournament action, winning 6-3 at Miami in the 1992 Atlantic Regional before posting an 8-1 win at Clemson in the 1994 East Regional. Notre Dame also had posted a pair of regular-season wins over Miami when the 'Canes were ranked No. 2 in the nation: 2-1 at Michigan on March 27, 1992, and 1-0 at Notre Dame's Eck Stadium on May 12, 1999 (the Irish were one strike from the no-hitter, with Miami suffering its first shutout loss in 248 games).

    Game 1 - June 7, 2002 - Recap | Box Score

    Notre Dame Defeats Florida State, 10-4, In Game 1 Of Super Regional

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - (AP) Top-ranked Florida State (59-13) saw its 25-game win streak snapped by No. 11 Notre Dame (48-15) in Friday night's opening game of the Tallahassee Super Regional. The Fighting Irish downed FSU 10-4 in front of a season-high 5,388 fans at Dick Howser Stadium. Kris Billmaier went 4-for-5 and tied a career-high with five RBIs to lead the way for the Irish. Billmaier knocked in two runs with a two-out single in Notre Dame's four-run eighth.

    Brian Stavisky put the Fighting Irish on the scoreboard first with a two-run homer in the top of the first inning, his eighth homer of the season.

    Notre Dame added another run in the third to make it 3-0. Steve Stanley led off with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a two-out single to left by Billmaier.

    FSU got one back in the bottom half of the third when Stephen Drew doubled, took third on a passed ball, and came home on Ryan Barthelemy's ground ball to second.

    Tony Richie blasted a solo home run to center, his 13th of the year, to lead off the fourth. Nick Rogers followed with a walk, advanced to second on Richie Smith's infield single, and came around to score on Drew's ground out to tie the game at three.

    The Irish got the lead back in the sixth when Javier Sanchez drew a bases loaded walk with two outs. Lynch was able to get out of the jam when he got Joe Thaman to ground out to second.

    The Seminoles tied the game in the bottom of the sixth the same way. With the bases loaded and two outs, Tony McQuade fouled off a pair of 3-2 pitches before drawing a bases loaded walk.

    Notre Dame wasted no time in regaining the lead, chasing FSU starter Matt Lynch after one out in the seventh inning. Billmaier did the damage, driving in two with a base hit to right center. Daniel Davidson relieved Lynch and struck out two end the frame.

    In the eighth, the Irish broke the game open with four, two-out runs to make it 10-4. Steve Sollmann and Stavisky had RBI-singles and Billmaier knocked in two more to bring his RBI total to five.

    Freshman right-hander Grant Johnson improved to 9-4 with the win. Johnson allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings of work. He struck out two and walked six, throwing 131 pitches on the night.

    Lynch (13-2) took the loss, surrendering six runs on 10 hits in 6.1 innings. Lynch struck out four and walked two.

    You Know You've Made It Big When ...

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    A clean-shaven Jeff Samardzija joined the list of pitchers who got starts on their own bobblehead days when he took the mound Tuesday against San Diego at Wrigley Field.

    Irish In The Sunshine State

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    Chuck Freeby ('86) and Coach Mik Aoki preview the BIG EAST tournament in Clearwater, Fla.

    Former Houston Astro and future MLB Hall of Famer Craig Biggio (father of Irish freshman Conor Biggio) catches up with UND.com.

    For the second consecutive year, Notre Dame took home the Home Run Derby title. It was David Casey in 2011, and Trey Mancini this season.

    Chuck In the Armor - Connecticut Preview

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    Chuck Freeby is a 1986 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, and the voice of Fighting Irish baseball on Harvest Radio (WHME 103.1 FM) and UND.com. He returns to Irish UNDerground with the latest 'Chuck in the Armor' post, previewing this weekend's series with Connecticut.

    For the first time in three years, the Irish enter the final weekend of the regular season not worried about qualifying for the BIG EAST tournament.  That doesn't mean there isn't a reason to show up at Connecticut this weekend.

    There are a lot of permutations that affect the BIG EAST standings, but everyone will be best served by keeping it simple. If Notre Dame can win this series against Connecticut, chances are the Irish finish no worse than fifth in the BIG EAST.  That would surpass the preseason expectations of the league, give Notre Dame 30 wins and make it three straight series wins entering next week's conference tournament.

    Tuesday night after the win against Northwestern, Mik Aoki told some of us that he believes the pitching duo of Will Hudgins and Pat Connaughton can have Notre Dame competitive with any team in the country. He believes Adam Norton can beat any team's #3 starter.  He's pleased with the development of Sean Fitzgerald and Steve Sabatino as "long relievers".  Then Aoki put the caveat on the deal..."as long as we play clean defense."

    It's not a news flash to anyone who has followed this team all year. Sometimes, the Irish make errors the way people eat potato chips...one just leads to another and another.  As Mik explained on one of the pregame shows last week, it's a matter of looking at mistakes as new opportunities to pick up a teammate...to make the kind of play that bolsters the team. Instead, many times, the body language has been that of "here we go again".

    When Notre Dame can avoid that pitfall...when they make one error or none, the Irish are 24-8 this year.  Think about it...a team with 19 freshmen and sophomores...and one that had to replace its entire starting staff at the beginning of the year...still wins 75 percent of the game when they play good defense.  That's pretty darn good.

    Is that good enough to get past Connecticut?  The big names like George Springer and Matt Barnes are gone, but UConn still has talent. Second baseman L.J. Mazzilli is likely to be a top-three round draft pick.  Speedster Billy Ferriter leads the team with a .340 average and 22 stolen bases.  And when you look at the earned run averages of the Connecticut pitchers, they're very comparable with Notre Dame.  So what is UConn's Achilles heel?  The same as the Irish...the heel of the glove.

    Connecticut has made 91 errors...13 more than the Irish.   The Huskies are 13-6 when they make one error or less...which also means they've had 32 games where they have made two or more.  So, the Huskie faithful are saying the same thing..."if we can only play clean".

    Normally, when you go into a tough battle, the phrase used is "it's time to take the gloves off". This weekend, it's time to make sure they're on and used properly.

    Chuck Freeby '86

    Chuck In the Armor - Villanova Preview

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    Chuck Freeby is a 1986 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, and the voice of Fighting Irish baseball on Harvest Radio (WHME 103.1 FM) and UND.com. He returns to Irish UNDerground with the latest 'Chuck in the Armor' post, previewing this weekend's series with Villanova.

    Sitting at 4-5 after back-to-back losses to Ohio and Michigan State, Jake Kline probably didn't expect his Notre Dame squad to go the College World Series in 1957 any more than Mik Aoki expects to go to Omaha in 2012.

    But Jake's Irish did...and the 2012 Irish still could reach an NCAA regional and compete for an opportunity.

    As you read this, you're probably saying, "now I know why Freeby didn't make the road trip...they locked him up." Look, I know a CWS trip seems absurd to think about after Wednesday night's loss to Valparaiso. The Irish were outplayed in every facet of the game by the Crusaders, leaving them at 23-21 for the season.

    But the goal is still possible. First things first, the Irish have to qualify for the BIG EAST Tournament. You don't want to take that for granted, and that's why this weekend's games at Villanova are important, because they can help solidify position in case Georgetown or Pittsburgh gets hot.

    So let's say the Irish make the BIG EAST tournament. Let's see a show of hands from the teams who really want to face Irish ace Will Hudgins in the opening game. Not many hands going up there. The "Richmond Rifle" has posted a phenomenal 2.22 ERA this season. He can beat anybody in the league. Get that win, and you might go with Pat Connaughton, as the freshman should be in peak form by then and has pitched well his last two outings. Sean Fitzgerald has had some great bullpen outings and Dan Slania leads the league in saves.

    Now ask yourself this...does anyone have a better 3-4-5 in the league than Eric Jagielo, Trey Mancini and Joe Hudson? Yes, they had a dismal weekend against St. John's, but hitting is a contagious thing. When one guy gets cold, it seems to spread. When one gets hot, all three seem to swing it well. Hudson's three hits on Wednesday could be a harbinger. And Louisville is the only other team in the league besides Notre Dame that has five regulars batting above .300.

    My point is...this is a team that is still capable of winning the BIG EAST tournament. Of the nine Notre Dame BIG EAST losses, seven are by two runs or less. And if you can win the BIG EAST, you make the NCAA Tournament. And if you make the tournament, you've got a shot at Omaha. Ask Fresno State, who lost 31 games the year they won the national championship. Ask the 1957 Irish.

    Ask Senator John Blutarsky.

    "Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Heck, no! And it ain't over now! Because when the going gets tough, the tough get going!"

    Who's with me?

    - Chuck Freeby '86

    Hanging By A Moment

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    Following a particular college or university is a pastime for all sports fans as they go through their stages of adolescence. Whether it be where their parents went, where they live or just an obsession with a particular team for no apparent reason, all fans share random, common bonds with people who may be miles away.

    As a child I grew up watching the 'Old Ball Coach' roam the sidelines for the Florida Gators (dad's alma mater), Tom Coverdale run the point for the Indiana Hoosiers (childhood team) and Autry Denson and Jarious Jackson run the option for the Irish (location). As I got older, the times and games I remembered turned in to moments in which to this day I have not forgotten.

    Moments are what make us as sports fans keep coming back for more, albeit there were just over 28,000 paying customers in attendance at Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buerhle's perfect game in 2009, as time goes by there will be 100,000 people claiming they were at Comiskey Park (I have and always will call it by this name) that day. I am not a fan of this particular Chicago area sports team, yet I will always remember where I was and whom I was with when this great moment took place.

    I have many great and historic moments that I remember from the past 20-some years I have been a fan of Notre Dame. I have recollections that I would rather forget (Jackson's safety against LSU in 1998 in which he hurt his ankle and was out the following week) and those in which I wish I could relive over and over (Notre Dame women's basketball team taking down #1 UConn in 2001 at the Joyce en route to the program's first NCAA title). For both of those games, I remember where I was (Jackson's injury - celebrating Thanksgiving in Indianapolis, women's basketball vs. UConn - at game behind basket in first row).

    This past athletic season had a fair share of 'Notre Dame Moments' in which I was able to witness; here are my top five ...

    5. Frank Dyer, The All-American Guy
    NCAA Men's Swimming Championships
    March 24, 2012

    In the 53 years of men's swimming at Notre Dame, the Irish have accomplished a lot - five BIG EAST Championships, five BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors and over 50 all-BIG EAST honorees - yet they had never had any swimmer garner national All-American recognition, until Frank Dyer's swim in Federal Way, Wash., this past season.

    Dyer had been training all year long for the opportunity to make his mark in Notre Dame swimming lore. On a Friday evening in late March, he got his opportunity. As he stepped upon the blocks in the 200 freestyle finals, Dyer had the weight of the entire program on his back and he didn't disappoint.

    The gun went off and just one minute and 34 seconds later, Notre Dame had its first All-American, Frank Dyer.

    4. Freeby Calls Bull's Shot
    Baseball vs. Pittsburgh
    March 23, 2012

    It may not have been George Herman Ruth calling his shot or even Jake Taylor, but Notre Dame baseball radio announcer Chuck Freeby opined between innings on the broadcast that the Irish would defeat the Panthers in the bottom half of the ninth inning on a home run from freshman Ryan Bull.

    What happened next was truly amazing as Bull hit his first career home run at the exact time in which Freeby 'called it.'

    3. Squeezing The Orange
    Men's Basketball vs. #1 Syracuse
    January 21, 2012

    On a cold January day, the Irish, with a record of 11-8, welcomed the undefeated Syracuse Orange into Purcell Pavilion for a BIG EAST conference clash. As the game wore on, Notre Dame played more like the Harlem Globetrotters to Syracuse's Washington Generals.

    Building a lead as big as 18 points, the Irish went on to win 67-58 in front of a sold-out crowd. This was the eighth time that the men's basketball program had knocked off the top-ranked team in the AP poll in its history.

    2. Big Shot Britt
    Women's Basketball vs. Connecticut
    April 1, 2012

    In the fourth meeting on the season between the two squads, the teams went back and forth throughout much of the game.

    The Irish squandered a five-point lead late to find themselves down two with just under-10 seconds to play when Skylar Diggins drove the length of the court and put up a runner in the lane, the attempt would miss and fall in the hands of senior Natalie Novosel. After gathering the rebound, Novosel put the ball up on a reverse lay-up, to see the ball drop with just a few seconds left on the clock to send the game to overtime.

    The Irish found themselves down, three, early in overtime. That's when senior Brittany Mallory, who was shooting 1-11 in NCAA Championship play prior, was found in the corner for an open three, which she calmly drained.

    After a rebound on the defensive end, Diggins quickly pushed the ball up the court and again found Mallory on the wing for another trey. The clutch play from their scrappy, sharpshooting senior would catapult the Irish to their second NCAA Championship game in as many years.

    1. The Dedication Game (Holy War on Ice)
    Hockey vs. Boston College
    November 18, 2011

    Taking part on the Friday night before their respective football teams clashed in the 'Holy War' on the gridiron, the hockey squads took to the ice for the 'Dedication Game' of the 50-million dollar Compton Family Ice Arena.

    The sold-out crowd of 5,022 was treated to one of my favorite moments of my time at Notre Dame as the longtime tenor for the Chicago Blackhawks, Jim Cornelison (an Indiana University graduate), bellowed the National Anthem and kicked off a night full of moments.

    This 'Notre Dame Moment' looked like something right out of the third Mighty Ducks when Bryan Rust capped off the game with a sudden-death victory goal with just 1.1 seconds left in overtime to give the Irish the 3-2 win.


    These are just a few of the great Irish athletics moments from the past year. Every particular moment has its key players - Ryan Bull, Brittany Mallory, Frank Dyer - but the big question in sports has always been, "how will history remember you?" I'm sorry to say to all the athletes out there, it's not always your full athletic body of work that gets you remembered, sometimes it's just that one 'moment' where everything seems to come together and 20 years from now everyone is still talking about it, and all of Irish nation claims to have been there in person.

    As the ghost of George Herman (Babe) Ruth told Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez, "Heroes get remembered, but Legends never die."

    - Aaron Horvath

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