NOTRE DAME, WINTHROP LIVE ONLINE -- The Irish and Eagles, scheduled to play at 4 p.m. this afternoon, will be available on live stream via BigSouthSports.com. There is a fee to watch the games, but if interested click here
IN THE BATTERS BOX -- Notre Dame hopes for warmer weather and better results this weekend when they head to the 2011 Coca Cola Classic (hosted by Winthrop University). The Irish will open the weekend with a doubleheader against Manhattan and the host Eagles at Noon on Fri., March 4. Notre Dame and Winthrop should get underway at 4 p.m. The Irish return to action at 4 p.m. on Sat., March 5, against the Eagles. Notre Dame will wrap up the weekend against the Jaspers at 11 a.m. on Sun., March 6.
IRISH AT A GLANCE -- Notre Dame enters this weekend riding a two-game losing streak. The Irish had captured three straight games, before dropping a doubleheader to Seattle University to close last weekend.
Notre Dame continues to play excellent defense and benefit from quality pitching. The Irish have posted a .972 fielding percentage with six errors over their first six games. Notre Dame owns a 2.25 ERA and opponents are batting just .236 against the Irish staff.
Notre Dame's offense went dormant last weekend at Seattle. The Irish batted only .151 with three extra-base hits and scored seven runs in the three-game series. In all, Notre Dame managed just 13 hits in three outings.
The seven runs are the fewest for the Irish over any three-game series since Michigan State in 2010. In fact, Notre Dame has not posted a lower batting average in a weekend set since the Irish managed a .149 batting average in a three-game series at FIU in 1999.
THIS WEEKEND'S STORY LINES -- Notre Dame will face a pair of unfamiliar foes this weekend. The meeting with Winthrop will be the second in school history, while the matchup with Manhattan will be the inaugural.
The Irish own an all-time record of 3-1 against members of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). Notre Dame is 1-0 against Fairfield and 2-1 against Niagara. The Irish knocked off the Stags, 6-4, in 2002. The meetings with the Purple Eagles took place during the 1916 and 1917 campaigns.
IRISH SET FOR RARE TRIP TO THE PALMETTO STATE -- Notre Dame will be making just its third all-time trip to the state of South Carolina and second-ever in the regular season. Interestingly enough, the Irish will return to South Carolina next weekend at the Caravelle Resort Classic (hosted by Coastal Carolina). In 2007, Notre Dame dropped two of three games at the Baseball at the Beach tournament. The Irish upended TCU, 4-1, but lost to UNC Wilmington, 9-4, and Coastal Carolina, 4-0. Notre Dame had an impressive performance at the 1994 NCAA East Regional that was played at Clemson, bouncing back from a 9-5 loss to Old Dominion by beating the host Tigers, 8-1, and The Citadel, 5-1, before losing to Auburn, 8-0. The Irish also have limited playing experience in North Carolina, with previous trips to Duke and Elon. The previous trip to North Carolina came in a two-game series at Duke to open the 1988 campaign.
ALL-TIME MONOGRAM WINNERS MISSING SOUTH CAROLINA NATIVES -- Some 885 all-time Notre Dame baseball monogram winners include players from 44 states (plus Canada and Panama). The only states not represented among the Irish baseball monogram winners are Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Vermont. Former Notre Dame executive vice-president Rev. Edmund P. Joyce - a legend in the history of collegiate athletics - was the first Notre Dame student who was a native of South Carolina.
MANHATTAN SET TO BECOME OPPONENT #304 -- Seattle University last weekend became the 303rd different opponent faced by Notre Dame in 119 seasons of Division I baseball, with Manhattan set to join that all-time opponents list this weekend. The Irish have faced roughly 63% of the teams currently competing on the Division I level (194 of 308), including all teams currently in the BIG EAST, Mid-American, Missouri Valley, Big Ten, Ivy League, Pac-10 and SEC.
SCOUTING MANHATTAN -- The Jaspers enters the series with a 1-3 record. Manhattan captured its season opener at Western Carolina (11-6), but dropped the final two games of the series (7-3, 9-8) and lost again this past Wednesday to Fordham (8-6).
The Jaspers have compiled a .327 batting average this season and is led by Chad Salem. The third baseman is hitting .471 with three doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. Salem has already totaled 17 total bases in four starts. He has scored a run and drawn three walks. Mark Onorati is also batting .471 on the year. He has registered five runs scored, one double, one home run and four RBI. Onorati has drawn a walk, added a sacrifice bunt and swiped three bases. Nick Camastro is the third Jasper hitting over the .400 clip. He owns a .429 batting average with a couple runs scored and couple RBI. Camastro has a pair of sacrifice bunts and one stolen base. Austin Sheffield has added a home run and six RBI along with a .333 batting average. As a team, Manhattan has stolen six bases in eight attempts.
The Jaspers pitching staff has combined for a 6.42 ERA this season, yielding 8.55 walks per nine innings and a .252 opponents' batting average. John Soldinger serves as Manhattan's Friday night starter, as he has a 3.00 ERA and 1-0 record. Soldinger has allowed three hits in 6.0 innings of work and foes are batting .150 against him. He has issued four walks and struck out six. Eric Luksis (0-1, 4.50 ERA) and Mike Giordano (0-0, 4.50 ERA) each started the other two games in the opening-weekend series at Western Carolina, while Jared Hirschberg (0-1, 27.00 ERA) started on Wednesday against Fordham. Luksis tossed 6.0 innings and allowed three earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts and four walks. Giordano pitched 6.0 innings and allowed three earned runs on four hits with six strikeouts and six walks. Taylor Sewitt (0-1, 6.75 ERA) and Peter Cappielo (0-0, 4.50 ERA) head up the Jaspers bullpen.
Manhattan has committed five errors for a .965 fielding clip.
SCOUTING WINTHROP -- The Eagles enter the weekend with a 2-5 record. Winthrop opened the season with a 14-9 victory over San Diego State, but dropped the next two games to San Diego (7-5) and the Aztecs (6-1). The Eagles rebounded with a 9-2 rout in their home opener, but dropped their next three games to Kent State twice (13-0 and 8-6) and Wagner (8-5).
Winthrop has compiled a .253 batting average this season and is led by Eddie Rohan. The catcher is hitting .385 with two doubles, one triple and seven RBI. Salem has scored seven runs, drawn three walks and swiped one base. Brett Thomas is batting .333 on the year. He has registered four runs scored, one double and six RBI. Thomas has drawn three walks and added two sacrifice flies. As a team, Winthrop has stolen eight bases in 10 attempts.
The Eagles pitching staff has combined for a 5.46 ERA this season, yielding 2.21 walks per nine innings and a .329 opponents' batting average. Tyler Mizenko serves as Winthrop's Friday night starter, as he has a 2.70 ERA and 1-0 record. Mizenko has allowed eight hits in 10.0 innings of work and foes are batting .200 against him. He has issued two walks and struck out seven. Robert Lake (0-1, 5.40 ERA) and Matteo D'Angelo (0-2, 9.00 ERA) have each started two games, while Wade Newman (0-1, 6.75 ERA) has also registered a start. Lake has tossed 10.0 innings and allowed six earned runs on 16 hits with five strikeouts and two walks. D'Angelo has pitched 8.0 innings and allowed eight earned runs on 16 hits with one strikeout and no walks. Tommy Lawrence (0-0, 0.00 ERA), Justin Hopper (0-0, 0.00 ERA), Daniel Hyatt (0-0, 0.00 ERA) and Rob Brewer (0-0, 0.00 ERA) head up the Eagles bullpen.
Winthrop has committed 12 errors for a .955 fielding clip.
NOTRE DAME-WINTHROP SERIES NOTES -- Notre Dame and Winthrop are set to meet for just the second time in program history on Friday. The Irish routed the Eagles, 19-6, in the only previous meeting on Feb. 27, 2004 at the Florida Atlantic University Classic.
Greg Lopez went 4-for-6 with a pair of runs scored and six RBI, including a two-run home run in the fourth inning (the first home run of his Irish career), a two-run single in the sixth and a two-run double in the ninth. Chris Niesel was touched for eight hits and two walks but avoided the big inning, allowing just one run in 7.0 innings of work (with five strikeouts). He extended his winning streak to 11 consecutive decisions with the Irish.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Notre Dame Manhattan Winthrop
Batting Average .269 .327 .253
Runs Per Game 5.8 7.0 5.7
Home Runs 2 5 0
Slugging Percentage .363 .497 .302
Batters' BB+HBP-SO Margin -10 -10 -6
On-Base Percentage .342 .401 .347
Stolen Bases 7-9 6-8 8-10
Team ERA 2.25 6.42 5.46
Opponent Batting Average .236 .252 .329
Pitchers' SO-BB Ratio 3.46 0.91 2.13
Pitchers' SO Per 9 Innings 7.79 7.75 4.72
Pitchers' BB Per 9 Innings 2.25 8.85 2.21
Fielding Pct. (Errors) .972 (6) .965 (5) .955 (12)
Double Plays Turned 5 2 5
Record at Home 0-0 0-0 1-3
Record on Road (including neutral) 3-3 1-3 1-2
Record in One-Run Games 0-2 0-1 0-0
Record in Extra Innings 0-0 0-0 0-0
FOR STARTERS -- Notre Dame's starting pitchers have registered a quality start in all six games for the Irish this season. The trio of senior RHP Brian Dupra, senior RHP Cole Johnson and senior RHP Todd Miller have a combined 2.54 ERA (39.0 IP, 11 ER). Opponents are batting just .233 against Dupra, Johnson and Miller. The six quality starts is even more impressive when you consider Notre Dame totaled 10 over the course of the entire 2010 season (54 games).
PITCHING THE NAME OF THE GAME -- Notre Dame enters this weekend with a 2.25 ERA. It is the best team ERA over the first six games of a season since at least the 1988 season. Irish records unfortunately do not have complete box scores prior to the '88 season.
Notre Dame has already limited four opponents to two earned runs or less over its first six games. The Irish limited their foes to 13 such games over the entire 2010 season (54 games).
Notre Dame might have scored 28 runs in its three games at the 2011 BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge, but the Irish pitching staff deserves serious kudos.
Notre Dame entered this season without two weekend starters from 2010 (junior LHP Steve Sabatino and graduated RHP Eric Maust). Sabatino, along with key junior LHP Irish relievers Joe Spano and Ryan Richter, will miss the entire 2011 campaign following offseason elbow injuries. All three have already begun the rehabilitation process following Tommy John surgery. The injuries left Notre Dame with exactly one scholarship LHP (freshman Anthony McIver). Despite the obvious setbacks, the Irish did not miss a beat in the opening weekend.
Notre Dame posted a 2.33 team ERA in 27.0 innings of work against Michigan State, Purdue and Penn State. All three Irish starting pitchers, senior RHP Brian Dupra, senior RHP Cole Johnson and senior RHP Todd Miller, registered quality starts. The trio scattered 19 hits over 19.1 innings. More importantly, the trio walked only two and registered 15 strikeouts.
The Irish bullpen was even more impressive. The quintet of McIver, freshman RHP Donnie Hissa, freshman RHP Dan Slania, freshman RHP Sean Fitzgerald and junior RHP Will Hudgins combined to throw 7.2 scoreless innings. They also combined to punch out nine and walk two.
Notre Dame's 2.33 ERA was the lowest ERA through the opening weekend of a season since 2006 when the Irish staff posted a 2.00 ERA following four games at the Service Academies Classic. The four walks were the fewest over the first three games of a season since at least 1995 (and one of the walks was an intentional pass).
The Irish have not completed any three-game span with fewer than three unintentional walks since March 11-13, 2010 against Bradley, Gonzaga and Pacific in San Antonio.
PROBABLY GOING TO JINX IT, BUT -- Notre Dame has yet to play a game this year that has exceeded two hours and 48 minutes. In fact, four of the Irish games in 2011 have finished under two hours and 20 minutes, including all three games last weekend at Seattle.
The longest game of the series with the Redhawks was Friday's meeting, which lasted only two hours and 20 minutes. The final two games of the series took just one hour and 52 minutes and two hours and one minute to complete, respectively.
The first game of the doubleheader on Sat., Feb. 25, which lasted only one hour and 52 minutes, was the quickest nine-inning game for the Irish since Apr. 4, 2009 against Villanova. Notre Dame planked the Wildcats, 4-0, in one hour and 43 minutes.
WALKING A TIGHTROPE -- Notre Dame has already played a pair of one-run games in 2011. The Irish are 0-2 in those outings, dropping a 2-1 decision to Michigan State on Feb. 18 and losing a 1-0 affair to Seattle on Feb. 26.
Not for the Faint of Heart -- Notre Dame and Seattle University played a three-game series last weekend on the campus of the University of Washington. The temperature never rose above freezing (32 degrees) at any point during any of the three games. In fact, the first pitch temperature of Saturday's opening game of the doubleheader was 23 degrees and the wind chill was 16 degrees.
ON DECK -- Notre Dame returns to the Palmetto State next weekend at the Caravelle Resort Classic hosted by Coastal Carolina. The Irish face UAB (Sat., Mar. 12, 11 a.m.), Coastal Carolina (Sat., Mar. 12, 2:30 p.m.) and Kent State (Sun., Mar. 13, 11 a.m.).