Feb. 16, 2017
By Michael Scholl
Five Things To Know
- The Notre Dame baseball team opens its 2017 campaign with its annual trip to San Antonio, Texas, for the Alamo Irish Classic. It marks the 19th season since 1995 the Irish baseball team will compete in San Antonio. Mik Aoki has taken his program to the Alamo City in all but one season during his tenure. Last season, Notre Dame captured its second consecutive Alamo Irish Classic title, rebounding from a tournament-opening, 4-3 loss to Bradley to defeat Texas Southern, Incarnate Word and Gonzaga.
- The Irish return a pitching staff already collecting accolades prior to the start of the season. Junior righthander Peter Solomon has been named a Preseason All-American by Baseball America, while also earning a spot on USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award Watch list announced on Wednesday. Solomon leads a trio of junior hurlers turning heads of Major League scouts. Solomon is slotted the No.16 prospect in college baseball by D1Baseball, No. 19 by Baseball America and the No. 49 draft prospect at any level by MLB Pipeline. Solomon was joined on the D1Baseball list by Brandon Bielak (No. 82) and Brad Bass (No. 96), while Bielak also found his name on the Baseball America Top 100 at No. 92.
- Notre Dame has a history with all three teams joining it at the Alamo Irish Classic.
Lafayette All-time series: 1-0-1 // Last meeting: 3/31/1967, 1-1 tie at Lafayette
Saint Louis All-time series: 13-4 // Notre Dame Last meeting: 5/8/1994, 6-4 ND at Notre Dame
Incarnate Word All-time series: 2-2 // Last meeting: 2/27/2016, 13-2 ND at Alamo Irish Classic
- The ranks of Irish players in the professional ranks grew by two last year, with the selection of Cavan Biggio and Torii Hunter Jr. in the 2016 MLB Draft. Biggio was selected in the fifth round by the Toronto Blue Jays, while Hunter was taken in the 23rd round by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The duo brings the total of Notre Dame baseball draft picks to 108, while Aoki has now produced 15 draft picks during his tenure at Notre Dame, including seven picks in the first 10 rounds. Biggio spent his first professional summer with the Vancouver Canadians, hitting .273 with a .371 on-base percentage and 11 steals. Hunter signed with the Angels, but returned to the gridiron at Notre Dame for one final season in 2016 making 79 career receptions for 949 yards and six touchdowns. Hunter will focus on baseball in the Angels system in 2017.
- Notre Dame continued to have an impact on Major League Baseball in 2016, right down through the World Series. Trey Mancini became a viral star immediately upon becoming Notre Dame’s 87th Major Leaguer. Mancini’s first hit with the Baltimore Orioles in his big league debut went for a home run with his mom in the same Baltimore stands where his grandfather was a season ticket holder. Mancini followed that up with homers in his next two starts, joining the Rockies’ Trevor Story and Arizona’s Carlos Quentin as the only players in baseball history to go yard in each of their first three starts. Mancini was one of three Irish players to qualify for the posteseason, making the roster for the Orioles’ Wild Card game. Righty Jeff Samardzija helped the Giants to the NLDS, whlie his former rotation-mate Jeff Manship and the Cleveland Indians pushed the World Champion Chicago Cubs to the brink. A.J. Pollock battled injuries while hitting .315 for Arizona and David Phelps became the set-up man in the bullpen for the Marilns, posting a 2.28 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.
Michael Scholl joined Fighting Irish Media in August 2016, coordinating communications for the baseball program and assisting with the football team at his alma mater. The South Bend native earned a degree in political science from the College of Arts & Letters in 2009 before going on to work in athletics communications at Providence College, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati.