Feb. 18, 2009
BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge
vs. Ohio State (Knology Park)
vs. Illinois (McKechnie Field)
vs. Purdue (Jack Russell Stadium)
Ohio State, Friday (7:30 p.m.)
RHP Brian Dupra (3-3, 5.44) vs. RHP Alex Wimmers (0-3, 4.50)
Illinois, Saturday (7:30 p.m.)
RHP Eric Maust (6-3, 4.52) vs. RHP Kevin Manson (8-2, 5.42)
Purdue, Sunday (1:00 p.m.)
RHP Evan Danieli (0-0, 5.00) vs. LHP Connor Sestak (1-3, 6.65 ERA)
LIVE GAME COVERAGE
Audio: WHME 103.1 FM (Sean Stires, p-b-p); UND.com
All-Time Series: Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Ohio State, 26-18, and Purdue, 78-37-3, but the Irish trail the all-time series with Illinois, 37-23.
2008 Results: Notre Dame did not face any of its three opponents this weekend last season.
Series Notes: The Irish and Buckeyes have not met since the 2002 NCAA Regional in South Bend. Notre Dame and Purdue have met every season since 1981 except 1983, 1989, 1991, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2008. The Irish and Illini have met just once (2006) since the 2001 campaign.
IN THE BATTERS BOX -- Notre Dame opens the 2009 season this weekend at the inaugural BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge. The Irish will play Ohio State (Fri., 7:30 p.m., Knology Park), Illinois (Sat., 1:00 p.m., McKechnie Field) and Purdue (Sun., 1:00 p.m., Jack Russell Stadium). All three games can be heard on WHME 103.1 FM and UND.com.
BIG EAST/BIG TEN CHALLENGE INSIDER -- In addition to Notre Dame, seven other BIG EAST representatives will participate, including Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Seton Hall, St. John's, USF and West Virginia. All 10 of the Big Ten's baseball-playing institutions will compete in the inaugural event, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue.
The BIG EAST/Big Ten Baseball Challenge will be similar in format to the popular conference collegiate basketball challenges that have emerged over the past decade, with participating teams competing against schools from the opposing conference. However, this tournament is unique in that it provides teams from two northern-based conferences with an opportunity to travel to Florida and compete against one another in outstanding, professional-quality venues located in a warm climate.
WARMING UP IN FLORIDA - The Irish baseball team owns a 67-58-1 all-time record (.536) in the state of Florida, but found the Sunshine State to be an especially welcome home-away-from-home site between 2000-07, racking up a 41-14 record (.732). Notre Dame struggled in Florida a year ago, posting a 4-9 mark, including five straight losses to close the season. Notre Dame is opening the season in Florida for just the fourth time over the last 31 years.
NOTRE DAME IN THE SUNSHINE STATE - The Notre Dame baseball team has made regular visits to Florida, totaling a 67-58-1 record against various top teams in games played in Boca Raton, Ft. Myers, DeLand, Gainesville, Homestead, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Santaluces, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Winter Park, Tampa and Clearwater. In addition to this week's BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge, the Irish will return to Clearwater and Brighthouse Networks Field for the 2009 BIG EAST Tournament in May.
FLORIDA NATIVES - The 2009 Notre Dame baseball roster includes one player from Florida. Senior 3B/1B Eddy Mendiola (Miami/Palmer Trinity H.S.) hails from the Sunshine State.
PROBABLE POSITION STARTERS Pos. # Player B-T Cl. GP-GS Avg. HR RBI C Matt Scioscia R-R So. 16-5 .308 1 4 Son of former major league catcher and current manager of L.A. Angels Mike Scioscia -or- Cam McConnell R-R So. 15-10 .200 0 3 Served as the primary backup catcher last season; extremely athletic back stop with powerful throwing arm 1B Evan Sharpley L-R Sr. 51-33 .324 13 40 Led Irish in home runs last season (20th player in ND history to hit 10+ homers); ranked fourth in the BIG EAST 2B Ryne Intlekofer R-R Jr. 19-2 .286 0 5 Versatile player that has contributed off the bench the past two seasons; earned starting nod following exception fall 3B Greg Sherry R-R So. 47-42 .315 2 14 Spent most of 2008 in the nine-hole and was first ND player to hit over .300 in that spot of the order since `04 SS Jeremy Barnes R-R Sr. 55-53 .307 8 50 Four-year starter (last three at second base) that was named All-BIG EAST second team in `06 LF Golden Tate L-L So. 18-9 .262 0 4 Two-sport standout led ND football team in rec. (58), rec. yds (1,080), rec. TDs (10) and total TDs (11) in `08 CF A.J. Pollock R-R Jr. 55-55 .352 4 42 Led ND in hitting in `07 and `08; preseason Baseball America first team All-American in `09; `08 Cape Cod League MVP RF Billy Boockford R-R Jr. 49-44 .275 1 26 Was listed by Baseball America as Wisconsin's fifth best high school prospect -or- David Mills L-L Jr. 43-42 .349 2 26 Two-way player that doubles as situational lefty in Irish bullpen; all-BIG EAST first team in `08 DH David Mills L-L Jr. 43-42 .349 2 26 Two-way player that doubles as situational lefty in Irish bullpen; all-BIG EAST first team in `08 -or- Matt Grosso L-L Jr. 0-0 .000 0 0 High school teammate of A.J. Pollock; Has not played each of the last two springs (after transferring twice)ON DECK -- After this weekend's games, Notre Dame travels out west for the Phoenix Classic hosted by the University of Dayton next weekend. The Irish will play both Gonzaga (Feb. 27) and Dayton (Feb. 28) at the L.A. Angles' spring training facility Diablo Stadium. First-pitch for each game is slated for 6:00 p.m. Notre Dame then faces Creighton at Marich Field on the Phoenix College campus. First-pitch is scheduled for 10:00 a.m.
RANKINGS -- Notre Dame is unranked in each of the four season-opening polls, but the Irish are receiving votes in three of those four polls. Ohio State, Illinois and Purdue are also all unranked. The Buckeyes and Boilermakers are each receiving votes in the Collegiate Baseball poll.
recent season openers -- The Irish have captured nine of their last 11 season openers. Notre Dame suffered a tight loss to New Orleans in the 2001 season opener (7-6 at Mississippi State) and last season (6-2 vs. Liberty in Clearwater, Fla.), but have opened season with victories in 1998 (10-1 vs. Florida State in Orlando), 1999 (8-4 vs. James Madison at FIU), 2000 (6-0 vs. Air Force in Millington, Tenn.), 2002 (7-6 vs. Missouri at New Orleans), 2003 (10-9 vs. Dayton at Arizona State), 2004 (7-1 vs. San Diego State at USC), 2005 (19-8 vs. Florida A&M at UCF), 2006 (3-0 vs. Indiana State in Millington, Tenn.) and 2007 (15-8 vs. Prairie View in San Antonio).
season-opening sites -- This marks the 76th season and 19th straight that Notre Dame has opened its season away from home. The 1990 Irish team played a rare Feb. 5 home game against Goshen to open the year.
OPENING-DAY HOME RUNS - Three members of the 2007 team (A.J. Pollock, Michael Wright and Mike Dury) smacked home runs in the `07 season opener vs. Prairie View A&M. Pollock (3-run) and Wright (solo) homered two batters apart in the second inning (their first career ABs with the Irish) and are believed to be the first Notre Dame freshmen ever to homer in a season opener. Since 1989, Notre Dame players now have combined for 16 HRs on opening day. The Prairie View A&M game was the first time since 1993 that the Irish have hit three home runs in an opener (Craig DeSensi, Paul Failla and Eric Danapilis all homered in the `93 opener, a 11-4 win at Arizona State). Notre Dame players had homered in each of the past six season openers before failing to do so in last season's opener against Liberty. The previous six opening day home runs included Matt Bok in 2002 (vs. Missouri, at University of New Orleans), Kris Billmaier in 2003 (vs. Dayton, at Arizona State), Matt Edwards in 2004 (vs. San Diego State, at USC), Steve Andres and Edwards in 2005 (vs. Florida A&M, in Orlando) and Matt Bransfield in 2006 (vs. Indiana State, in Millington, Tenn.). Edwards is the only player among those listed below to hit multiple opening-day homers in his Notre Dame career. Of the program's 16 opening-day home runs in the past 20 seasons, seven have come from seniors, five from juniors, two from sophomores (none since 1993, when DeSensi and Failla did it) and two from freshmen. The 16 have also included three first basemen (Edwards twice), three DHs and three leftfielders, plus two catchers, two shortstops, a centerfielder, a rightfielder and a third baseman.
Notre Dame Opening-Day Home Runs Since 1989
OPENING-WEEKEND LONG BALLS - Notre Dame players combined to hit 32 opening-weekend home runs during the past 14 seasons (1995-08). Four players in that span hit multiple opening-week homers: infielder Brant Ust (two; 1998 and 1999), RF Kris Billmaier (three, in 2003), 1B Matt Edwards (two; 2004, 2005) and LF/DH Steve Andres (two; 2003, 2005). Billmaier is the only Notre Dame player among those listed below who had a multi-HR game during the opening weekend (vs. Newman, at Arizona State). A.J. Pollock (vs. Prairie View A&M, in San Antonio in 2007) is one of six from this list to homer during the opening week of their freshman season, as did Michael Wright (vs. Prairie View A&M, in San Antonio in 2007), Andres (at Arizona State in 2003), Ed Golom (as a pinch-hitter, at Florida International in 1999), OF Brian Stavisky (at Memphis, in 2000) and RF Cody Rizzo (in the second 2003 game at Arizona State). The position breakdown of the opening-weekend home run hitters since 1995 is as follows: RF (6), 1B (4), DH (4), LF (4), SS (4), C (3), CF (2), 3B (3), PH (1) and 2B (1).
Opening-Week Home Runs Since 1995
A.J. Pollock PRESEASON HONOR ROLL - Notre Dame junior OF A.J. Pollock was named first team preseason All-American by Baseball America. He was one of just two players from the BIG EAST Conference to be named to the first, second or third team. Pollock has already been named second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and third team by CollegeBaseballInsider.com. He has also been named to the Wallace Award Watch List and listed as the 39th overall prospect, 16th collegiate prospect and top overall prospect from the BIG EAST Conference for the 2009 MLB Draft by Baseball America. Pollock was also ranked as the seventh-best prospect from the Cape Cod League by Baseball America following his Most Valuable Player season this past summer. He was most recently recognized by Baseball America as the 10th-ranked player from the junior class.
Irish Picked By Baseball America To Return To NCAA Tournament - Notre Dame was well represented in Baseball America's 2009 season preview. The Irish, picked to finish second in the BIG EAST, was projected to reach the NCAA Tournament's field of 64. Notre Dame was penciled into the Irvine Regional as the fourth seed. UC Irvine was the host and top-seed, while Stanford (#2 seed) and defending national champion Fresno State (#3 seed) rounded out the regional. The Irish had three players listed among the top 50 in their respective class. LHP Sam Elam was rated the 39th-best senior in the nation, while OF A.J. Pollock was the 10th-ranked junior and RHP Evan Danieli was the 48th-rated sophomore. Pollock not only was named all-BIG EAST, but was also listed by the publication as a first team All-American. He and Louisville third baseman Chris Dominguez were the only two BIG EAST players honored. Sophomore RHP Brian Dupra was also named the first team all-BIG EAST relief pitcher. Danieli and Dupra were ranked as the second and third best prospects in the league heading into the 2010 MLB Draft.
MAUST, POLLOCK AND BARNES NAMED PRESEASON ALL-BIG EAST FIRST TEAM - Notre Dame placed the trio of junior RHP Eric Maust, junior OF A.J. Pollock and senior SS Jeremy Barnes on the preseason All-BIG EAST squad. No other conference school had more players on the 14-man squad than Notre Dame.
IRISH PICKED THIRD BY BIG EAST COACHES -- The University of Notre Dame baseball team was picked to finish third in the 2009 BIG EAST preseason baseball poll as determined by a vote of the league's 12 head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams. The Irish received a total of 99 points.
Team Points 2008 Overall 2008 BIG EAST 1. Louisville 121 (11) 41-19 16-11 2. USF 103 31-27 14-13 3. Notre Dame 99 33-21-1 16-10 4. St. John's 93 (1) 41-14 20-7 5. Cincinnati 77 23-11 19-8 6. Connecticut 62 27-28 11-16 7. West Virginia 60 35-21 13-14 8. Rutgers 58 23-29-1 11-16 9. Seton Hall 49 31-25 15-12 10. Villanova 31 30-28 12-15 11. Pittsburgh 27 19-34 7-19 12. Georgetown 12 18-32 7-20PLENTY OF WAYS TO FOLLOW THE IRISH - Notre Dame baseball fans will have several options for tracking the 2009 season on a game-by-game basis, through live streaming video (Notre Dame home games only), live-audio broadcasts, GameTracker live stats, free Irish Alert text messages and the Notre Dame Sports Hotline: