Feb. 19, 2014
Tournament 1: Irish Classic - San Antonio
7 p.m. / 12:30 p.m. / 4 p.m. / 11:30 a.m. (All CT)
Nelson Wolff Stadium
Notre Dame: 1-2, 0-0 ACC (34-24, 10-14 BIG EAST In 2013)
Postseason: Lost To UConn In BIG EAST Final
Santa Clara: 1-4, 0-0 West Coast (14-39, 1-23 WCC In 2013)
Postseason: Did not qualify for WCC Tourney
Gonzaga: 1-3, 0-0 West Coast (32-21-1, 18-6 WCC In 2013)
Postseason: No. 1 seed in WCC Tourney - Went 0-2
Incarnate Word: 1-2, 0-0 Southland (26-26, 12-16 Lone Star In 2013)
Postseason: Qualified for Lone Star Tourney - Went 0-2
All Teams Unranked
Projected Pitching Matchups
G1-Santa Clara: RHP Nick McCarty (0-1) vs. RHP DJ Zapata (0-1)
G2-Gonzaga: LHP Robert Youngdahl (0-0) vs. RHP Brandon Bailey (0-0)
G3-Incarnate Word: RHP Sean Fitzgerald (1-0) vs. TBA
G4-TBA: RHP Scott Kerrigan (0-1) vs. TBA
vs. Gonzaga: ND trails 1-2-1
Last Meeting: T, neutral site, 3-3 (3/20/2011)
First Meeting: L, neutral site, 7-3 (2/27/2009)
Aoki vs. Gonzaga: 0-1-1 (all at Notre Dame)
vs. Incarnate Word: ND trails 1-2
Last Meeting: L, away, 10-2 (3/17/1988)
First Meeting: W, neutral site, 8-6 (3/17/1988)
Aoki vs. Incarnate Word: 0-0
vs. Santa Clara: ND trails 0-1
First / Last Meeting: L, away, 9-8 (4/2/1961)
Aoki vs. Santa Clara: 0-1 (at Columbia)
Live Game Coverage
Live Video: None
Live Audio: WHME 103.1 FM (Chuck Freeby, pbp) or WatchND (UND.com)
Live Stats: UND.com (Gametracker)
Twitter Reports: @ND Baseball/@NDsidRuss
Weather Report (as of Monday, Feb. 17)
Thursday, Feb. 20: 85 Degrees, Partly Cloudy
Friday, Feb. 21: 70 Degrees, Mostly Sunny
Saturday, Feb. 22: 73 Degrees, Partly Cloudy
Sunday, Feb. 23: 69 Degrees, Partly Cloudy
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Less than 72 hours after getting off a plane from Boca Raton, Fla., the University of Notre Dame baseball team is on the road again. This time, the Irish are heading to the Lone Star state, and specifically San Antonio, for the long-standing Irish Classic that has been held virtually every year since 1995.
Joining the Irish in San Antonio are West Coast Conference members Gonzaga and Santa Clara and San Antonio school and new Division I program Incarnate Word. The four-day tournament gets underway Thursday and will feature two games a day through Sunday. Sunday's games are slated to be championship and consolation contests, but would be adjusted if Gonzaga and Santa Clara were paired up since the two schools have a three-game WCC series later in the season.
An interesting element to this traditional tournament is that the Irish stay with host families throughout the week. The host families all have Notre Dame ties and offer the players a chance to mingle with fans while making important connections with Notre Dame alums that will last a lifetime.
"This tournament goes back a long ways, maybe even two decades back to the head coach Pat Murphy days, and means a lot to the program," said head coach Mik Aoki. "I think it is really neat the connections that get made between these host families and the players. Hopefully it draws that Notre Dame club down there a bit closer to our University. When we go back and some of the guys that are juniors and seniors see those families, and the children of those families, again it's really neat the genuine connections and affinity they have for one another. The whole experience really gives San Antonio a special place in our program's heart."
Notre Dame (1-2) kicks off the week with Santa Clara at 7 p.m. (CT) Thursday. The Broncos (1-4) have gotten off to a bit of a rough start this season after a tough 2013 campaign. Last year, Santa Clara finished 14-39 overall and 1-23 in the WCC. This year, the Broncos have lost a pair to Boston College, split with Nevada and lost to Cal Poly, scoring two runs total in three of the five contests.
The Irish will start sophomore righty Nick McCarty (0-1) against Santa Clara's DJ Zapata (0-1). McCarty is looking to rebound after a rough outing against No. 24 Florida Atlantic saw the Westfield, Ind., native go just 2.1 innings and give up seven runs (three earned) on five hits, two walks and a hit batsman.
Santa Clara and Notre Dame have met just once before on the diamond, a 9-8 Santa Clara win on April 2, 1961.
Friday will see the Irish meet the Gonzaga Bulldogs (1-3) at 12:30 p.m. (CT). The Spokane, Wash., school had a spectacular 2013 regular season turn sour as the Bulldogs entered the WCC Tournament as the No. 1 seed only to lose a pair of games out of the gate and miss the NCAA Tournament. So far this season, Gonzaga (1-3) has a close 4-3 loss to No. 2 Oregon State while also dropping contests to Nebraska and Pacific before ending opening weekend with a victory over the Cornhuskers.
Going on the mound for the Bulldogs will be RHP Brandon Bailey (0-0). The Irish will counter with junior transfer Robert Youngdahl, who saw his first taste at pitcher last weekend. The lefty only gave up one run on three hits in 2.2 innings of work, but struggled with his control as he put himself in tough situations with four walks and a wild pitch.
The two squads have met a couple of times in recent years, including a 3-3 tie in 2011 as both teams had to catch a flight to their respective home states. Gonzaga leads the overall series, 1-2-1.
Division I newcomer Incarnate Word will be Notre Dame's 4 p.m. (CT) Saturday opponent. The Cardinals (1-2) have battled opponents of all sizes so far this year, losing to Oklahoma State and Stephen F. Austin but beating UT Arlington.
Incarnate Word has yet to decide on a starter for Saturday that will go against Irish righty Sean Fitzgerald (1-0). Fitzgerald pitched a solid 5.0 innings against the FAU Owls last weekend, giving up two runs on three hits to earn the win.
While the Cardinals played in Division II up until this season, Notre Dame did compete against UIW on one of its previous Texas swings, a three-game set in 1988 that saw the host Cardinals take two-of-three from the visiting Irish.
In Sunday's finale, RHP Scott Kerrigan (0-1) will make his second appearance of the season. Last week, Kerrigan had a rough first start, going only 2.1 innings and giving up eight runs (three earned) on seven hits. He also hurt his own cause by hitting two batters, throwing a wild pitch and sailing a throw over the head of first baseman Ryan Bull on a putout opportunity.
Fans that would like to follow the tournament can do so in a number of ways. Regular Irish play-by-play man Chuck Freeby will broadcast all four Notre Dame games live from San Antonio on WHME 103.1 FM and WatchND. In addition, consistent game updates will come from the @NDBaseball and @NDsidRuss Twitter accounts, while Gametracker links on UND.com should be up and running.
Notre Dame is coming off a 1-2 weekend at No. 24 Florida Atlantic where the Irish kicked off the season with a convincing 9-2 win in game one before defense and pitching hindered the visitors in a pair of 10-run losses (16-6 and 13-3). A positive on the weekend had to be Notre Dame's fairly consistent play at the plate as the Irish averaged six runs per contest. Youngdahl and Bull each wacked homers in game one, while the team showed patience at the plate with 13 walks on the weekend. Sophomore Zak Kutsulis was the most consistent hitter for Notre Dame as he batted .400 with two doubles. Youngdahl (.364), freshman Cavan Biggio (.333), Bull (.333) and senior Forrest Johnson (.375) all hit over .300 during the first weekend of the season.
"We talked more about the mental side of things this week because I have watched these guys play for an entire fall and preseason and the number of errors we made last weekend were uncharacteristic of what I have seen thus far," said Aoki. "I think those mistakes in games two and three (against FAU) were uncharacteristic of us as a team. We are ready to get back to playing like we are capable of playing by playing relaxed and staying within ourselves. I'm pretty confident that those two games are an aberration rather than who we are as a ball club."
Schedule (All Games at Nelson Wolff Stadium)
G1: Gonzaga vs. Incarnate Word - 4 p.m. ET
G2: Notre Dame vs. Santa Clara - 8 p.m. ET
G3: Notre Dame vs. Gonzaga - 1:30 p.m. ET
G4: Incarnate Word vs. Santa Clara - 5 p.m. ET
G5: Santa Clara vs. Gonzaga - 1:30 p.m.
G6: Notre Dame vs. Incarnate Word - 5 p.m.
Sunday (One game will be at Trinity University)
G7: TBA vs. TBA - 12:30 p.m. ET
G8: TBA vs. TBA - 12:30 p.m. ET
--Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director