Feb. 25, 2010
2010 Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge
vs. Illinois (Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater, Fla.) vs. Ohio State (Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater, Fla.) vs. Penn State (Naimoli Complex, St. Petersburg, Fla.)
vs. Illinois, Fri., Jack Russell Stadium (4:30 p.m.) RHP Cole Johnson (1-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. RHP Will Strack (6-1, 3.84 ERA)*
vs. Ohio State, Sat., Bright House Networks Field (4:00 p.m.) RHP Brian Dupra (0-0, 6.23 ERA) vs. RHP Dean Wolosiansky (0-0, 3.86 ERA) or RHP Brett McKinney (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
vs. Penn State, Sun., Naimoli Complex (10:00 a.m.) RHP Eric Maust (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. LHP Calvin Grumley (2-3, 9.14 ERA)* * stats from 2009 season
All-Time Series: Notre Dame leads the all-time series with Ohio State, 26-19, and Penn State, 8-3, but trails the all-time series with Illinois, 37-24.
2009 Results: The Irish played both the Buckeyes and Illini in last year's challenge. Notre Dame lost to Ohio State, 2-0, but upended Illinois the next day, 14-7.
Series Notes: The Irish and Buckeyes have met only once (2009) since the 2002 NCAA Regional in South Bend. Notre Dame and Penn State last played one another in 2004 and the Irish were victorious in each game. Notre Dame and Illinois have met twice once (2006, 2009) since the 2001 campaign.
IN THE BATTERS BOX < Notre Dame will compete in the second annual Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge this weekend. The Irish will play Illinois (Fri., 4:30 p.m., Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater), Ohio State (Sat., 4:00 p.m., Bright House Networks Field, Clearwater) and Penn State (Sun., 10:00 a.m., Naimoli Complex, St. Petersburg). All three games can be heard on WHME 103.1 FM and UND.com.
BIG TEN/BIG EAST CHALLENGE INSIDER < In addition to Notre Dame, nine other BIG EAST schools will participate, including USF, UConn, West Virginia, Seton Hall, Rutgers, Cincinnati, St. John's, Louisville and Villanova. Each of the Big Ten¹s baseball-playing institutions will compete in the second-annual event, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue.
The Big Ten/BIG EAST 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 professional-quality venues located in a warm climate.
WARMING UP IN FLORIDA < The Irish own a 72-61-1 all-time record (.541) 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 during the 2008 season, posting a 4-9 mark, including five straight losses to close the season, but rebounded with a 5-3 mark a year ago.
NOTRE DAME IN THE SUNSHINE STATE < The Notre Dame baseball team has made regular visits to Florida, totaling a 72-61-1 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 week¹s Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge, the Irish will return to DeLand and next weekend's Stetson Classic, as well as Clearwater and Bright House Networks Field for the 2010 BIG EAST Tournament in May.
- Notre Dame took two of three games in last season's BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge. The Irish dropped their season opener to Ohio State, 2-0, but rebounded with victories over Illinois, 14-7, and Purdue, 9-4. Notre Dame returned to the Sunshine State for the 2009 BIG EAST Tournament. The Irish went 3-2 and fell just one game shy of the championship game.
- In 2008, Notre Dame took part in the Winning Inning Invitational (Clearwater) and Palm Beach Challenge (Santaluces). The Irish posted a 4-4 mark in those tournaments. Notre Dame dropped five straight to close the season -- all played in the State of Florida (three at USF, two at the 2008 BIG EAST Tournament).
- In 2007, Notre Dame participated in the Stetson Invitational (DeLand), Clearwater Classic and Florida Gulf Coast Classic (Ft. Myers). The Irish posted a 6-5 record in those tournaments, including a 16-6 victory over #7 Nebraska on March 4.
- The 2006 team swept a series at then-BIG EAST newcomer South Florida (9-6, 10-4, 10-1) and then won the program¹s fifth straight BIG EAST Tournament title by going 4-1 in action at Brighthouse Networks Field, in Clearwater.
- The 2005 team opened 3-1 in games played at Central Florida (18-3 vs. Florida A&M, 1-2 vs. UCF, 4-3 vs. FAMU, 4-2 vs. UCF) and then ended its season at the NCAA regional played at the University of Florida (1-5 vs. North Carolina, 7-4 vs. Stetson, 3-0 vs. UNC and 3-23 vs. UF).
- In addition to participating in the 2000 (7-1 record) and 2003 (6-1) Kennel Club Classics, the Irish recently have played three series at Miami (1-2 in 1992 and 1995, 0-3 in 1998) while participating in the first ACC/Disney Blast in Orlando (1998; 1-2 with win over FSU) and winning the 2004 Florida Atlantic Classic.
- Notre Dame nearly advanced to the 1992 and 1993 College World Series, after competing in NCAA regionals at Miami and Florida State (the Irish upset the host schools and reached the final day of competition in both years). The 2002 Irish team won their NCAA Super Regional series at Florida State to earn a College World Series spot (Florida native Chris Niesel picked up the decisive win over FSU).
- The program's first Florida trip came in 1956 (2-5 in games around the Tallahassee area). Other early Notre Dame trips to Florida included a 5-2 loss at FSU in 1958, three wins at Rollins in 1967, tournaments at Miami in 1970 (1-5) and Rollins in 1978 (3-5-1), seven games around the state in 1979 (2-5) and six games played at Rollins and Miami in 1989 (4-2).
FLORIDA NATIVES < The 2010 Notre Dame baseball roster includes one player from Florida. Freshman C Joe Hudson (Odessa/Tampa Jesuit H.S.) hails from the Sunshine State.
RECAPPING THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE SERIES The Notre Dame baseball team opened its season with a three-game series sweep of Mississippi Valley State this past weekend. The Irish outscored the Delta Devils, 39-10, along the way and secured their first 3-0 start to a season since 2004. In fact, it is the first ever three-game series sweep away from home to open a season in the 118-year history of Irish baseball.
Notre Dame came into the season with the mantra, "898 committed to win S one team rock solid." The coaching staff generated the number 898 by adding up every player's jersey number on the roster. The message being pushed by the coaches and players since the opening of practice has been it will take contributions from every player to have a winning season. Well, the Irish mantra was in full effect this weekend.
Notre Dame used 32 players this weekend in the series sweep, including 12 pitchers. The Irish had seven different players with at least one hit in each of the first two victories and then topped that total in the series finale when 11 different players had base hits in the 19-3 rout of Mississippi Valley State. In fact, Notre Dame also had 15 separate players account for its 19 runs scored. The team effort was also evident with the Irish pitching staff. Those 12 pitchers combined to make 14 appearances and nine of which were scoreless outings.
The Irish pitching staff also displayed significant improvement in control. Notre Dame averaged just over 3.8 walks per nine innings in 2009, the highest by an Irish staff since 1999. Notre Dame¹s pitchers walked just seven batters in 27.0 innings of work over the weekend good for just 2.3 walks per nine innings.
ILLINOIS INSIDER < The Fighting Illini will open their season against the Fighting Irish after their season-opening series against Bradley in Champaign was cancelled due to snow. Illinois finished 34-20 a year ago under head coach Dan Hartleb, including a 16-8 mark in Big Ten action (fourth place).
OHIO STATE INSIDER < The Buckeyes opened up the 2010 campaign with three wins in Jacksonville over North Florida, Florida A&M, and Richmond, outscoring the competition 40-12. This comes after Ohio State finished 42-19 last season, winning the Big Ten regular season title (18-6) and advancing to the NCAA Tournament under skipper Bob Todd. The win over Richmond marked Todd's 1000th career victory.
Rucinski tied for the league lead in wins despite not starting a single game. The Buckeyes committed 84 errors in 2009 for a .963 fielding clip.
PENN STATE INSIDER < The Nittany Lions will open their season at the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge in 2010 after their opening weekend at Longwood University was snowed out. Penn State went 25-26 in 2009, including an 8-16 Big Ten mark, under head coach Robbie Wine.
The Nittany Lions will now count on redshirt senior Mike Wanamaker, who missed the 2009 season due to injury but went 6-5 with a 3.41 ERA two seasons ago, and junior lefty Calvin Grumley (2-3, 9.14 ERA in 2009) to lead the starting staff. Highlighting the bullpen are left-hander David Lutz (4-2, 3.38 in 2009), right-hander Jesse Alfreno (1-0, 4.44), and right-hander Ryan Ignas (5-1, 5.31). PSU committed 70 errors last season for a .965 fielding percentage.
TALE OF THE TAPE (2010 STATS)
|Notre Dame||+Illinois||Ohio State||+Penn State|
|Runs Per Game||13.0||7.46||13.3||6.39|
|Batters¹ BB+HBP-SO Margin||+7||-14||+8||-153|
|Opponent Batting Average||.202||.298||.254||.300|
|Pitchers¹ SO-BB Ratio||3.14||1.48||4.71||1.55|
|Pitchers¹ SO Per 9 Innings||7.33||5.65||11.0||6.75|
|Pitchers¹ BB Per 9 Innings||2.33||3.82||2.33||4.36|
|Fielding Pct. (Errors)||.969 (4)||.970 (62)||.894 (13)||.964 (72)|
|Double Plays Turned||3||58||2||66|
|Record at Home||0-0||15-7||0-0||10-11|
|Record on Road (including neutral)||3-0||19-13||3-0||15-15|
|Record in One-Run Games||0-0||6-4||0-0||4-7|
|Record in Extra Innings||0-0||1-2||0-0||1-3|