March 12, 2008
IN THE BATTERS BOX -- Notre Dame returns to the state of Texas for the annual Irish Classic at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio. The Irish will play Buffalo (Fri., 1:00 p.m. CT), Southern Illinois (Sat., 1:00 p.m. CT) and Texas-Pan American (Sun., 12:00 p.m. CT). All three games can be heard on ESPN Radio 1490 and UND.com.
IRISH CLASSIC INSIDER -- Notre Dame takes part in the 11th Irish Baseball Classic beginning Friday afternoon (1:00 p.m. CT) when the Irish play Buffalo (2-9) in Wolff Stadium in San Antonio. The Irish Baseball Classic began in 1995. The tournament was held each season after that through 1999. After a two-year hiatus (the Irish played in the Alamo Invitational in 2001), Notre Dame hosted the Irish Baseball Classic in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Notre Dame is 22-7 all-time in the Irish Baseball Classic, including championships in 1996, 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2006. Last year, the Irish lost to Texas State twice and defeated Prairie View A&M.
THE STARTING PITCHERS -- Notre Dame will start junior right-hander David Phelps (1-2, 5.09 ERA) against Buffalo in the opening game of the Irish Classic. The Hazelwood, Missouri native has made three starts for a total of 17.2 innings pitched. He has allowed 18 hits and eight walks while striking out 20. Phelps has not allowed a home run and opponents are batting .265 against him. He struggled in the season-opening loss to Liberty on Feb. 22, but rebounded with a seven-inning shutout effort (with 10 strikeouts) against Mount St. Mary's on March 1. Phelps has gone at least 5.0 innings in 18 of his last 19 starts.
Senior southpaw Wade Korpi (1-1, 6.75 ERA) will take the mound against Southern Illinois. Korpi has made three starts for a total of 17.1 innings pitched. The Santulucces, Florida native has allowed 23 hits and 10 walks with 15 strikeouts. He has allowed a team-high five home runs and opponents are batting .319 against him. Korpi, who went 7-2 in 2006 with a 2.00 earned run average, picked up his first victory since Feb. 17, 2007 (a span of 10 starts and 14 appearances) in his last start against South Alabama on March 8.
The Irish will turn to sophomore righty Eric Maust (0-0, 2.89 ERA) for their match-up with Texas-Pan American. The Alpharetta, Georgia native has made four appearances (all out of the bullpen) for a total of 9.1 innings. Maust, who made three starts last year, has allowed seven hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts. He has allowed one home run and opponents are batting .219 against him.
REMEMBER THE ALAMO - Notre Dame's 2008 trips to Corpus Christi and San Antonio will mark the 21st time in the past 30 seasons (dating back to 1969) that the Irish baseball team has visited the state of Texas. Notre Dame owns an 81-54 all-time record (.600) in games played within the confines of the nation's largest state, including 46-23 (.667) since 1995. The Irish have travelled to San Antonio, specifically, 11 times over the past 13 years. Notre Dame's players actually spend the weekend with host families and numerous players have developed lasting friendships with the residents of the Alamo City. The 2000 and 2003 Irish squads are the only teams since 1995 to not visit the state of Texas. This year's trip to San Antonio is just the third time the trip did not coincide with Spring Break (2001, 2007). Notre Dame has posted an impressive 28-9 mark in their previous 37 games in the Lone Stare state (dating back to the middle of the 1999 spring break trip). The Irish have made previous trips to the University of Texas, Texas A&M, Dell Diamond (Round Rock), Whataburger Field (Corpus Christi) and the University of Dallas.
TEXAS NATIVES - The 2008 Notre Dame baseball roster includes four players from Texas. Junior 2B Jeremy Barnes (Garland/South Garland H.S.), junior LHP Sam Elam (Mesquite/Poteet H.S.), senior RHP Tony Langford (Fort Worth/Fort Worthy Country Day H.S.) and sophomore RHP Steven Mazur (Round Rock/Stony Point H.S.) all hail from the Longhorn State.
BUFFALO SET TO BECOME OPPONENT #297 - Buffalo (from the Mid-American Conference) will become the 297th different opponent faced by Notre Dame in 116 seasons of Division I baseball.
THE NOTRE DAME SERIES AGAINST SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - The Irish own an all-time record of 9-4 against Southern Illinois. Notre Dame has captured its last three meetings with the Salukis, including twice in San Antonio during the 2006 Irish Classic. The Irish and Southern Illinois have actually faced one another on seven different occasions in the Alamo City. Notre Dame has swept all seven meetings in San Antonio (1996, 1998, twice in 2002, 2004, and twice in 2006). The two first met during the 1970 NCAAs in Columbus, Ohio (SIU took each meeting, 10-2 and 1-0). Interestingly, Notre Dame and SIU have only played two games on either schools campus (2004 in Carbondale; teams split two games).
THE NOTRE DAME SERIES AGAINST TEXAS-PAN AMERICAN - The series is tied 4-4 and all eight previous meetings have taken place in San Antonio. The Broncos have actually taken three of the past four meetings. Notre Dame has knocked off UTPA on March 15, 1995 (7-6), March 16, 1995 (13-4), March 9, 1997 (5-4) and Feb. 24, 2001 (14-9).
DOUBLE TAKE -- Notre Dame freshman RHP Ryan Sharpley and junior 3B Evan Sharpley became the first set of brothers to start the same game (vs. Lehigh) since at least 1968. Frank and Bill Orga each earned monograms during the `68 season, but archives can't confirm whether or not they started in the same game. The Irish have had 13 sets of brothers who both have earned monograms with ND baseball. Of those, only four earned monograms for the same season:
1968 - OF/1B Frank Orga and OF Bill Orga (Pittsburgh natives)
There have been only two sets of monogram-winning baseball brothers at Notre Dame since the early 1980s and all four were drafted (Scott and Steve Sollmann/Ryan and Tim Kalita). Scott's career started three years after Steve's final season at Notre Dame and Ryan narrowly missed pitching on the same staff as Tim (who signed in '99, Ryan was a freshman that following fall).
LILLEY LITTERED THROUGHOUT IRISH RECORD BOOKS - Notre Dame senior SS Brett Lilley is all over the Irish career record book. Lilley ranks second all-time in career on-base percentage (.485), seventh in sacrifice bunts (28) and tied for seventh in total sacrifices (35). He is also on pace to finish his career among the top time all-time in the following categories: games played, games started, consecutive games started, at-bats, hits, runs scored, walks and assists.
MR. DURABLE -- Senior SS Brett Lilley takes the term "everyday player" to another level. Lilley has started 187 consecutive games (every game in which he has played over his career). He has started 67 consecutive games at shortstop.
DOUBLE DUTY -- The Irish baseball team has historically featured a number of student-athletes that also competed in football. The 2008 season is no different. Junior 3B/DH Evan Sharpley (QB), sophomore RHP Eric Maust (P) and freshman OF Golden Tate (WR/KR) will each make major contributions this spring.
FIRST TIME A CHARM, LITERALLY -- Junior 3B/DH Evan Sharpley could not have picked a better time to drill his first career home run. Sharpley's solo, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning capped off a come-from-behind 11-10 victory over Maine on March 4.
MOST RECENT IRISH WALK-OFF BOMBS --
IRISH DONE IN BY LONG BALL -- Notre Dame has already surrendered 16 home runs on its first 11 games (on pace to give up nearly 80 long balls). The Irish have allowed a home run in eight of their 11 games. In fact, Notre Dame has yielded multi-home runs on six different occasions. The Irish allowed just 20 and 18 home runs, respectively, during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. The most home runs ever allowed by a Notre Dame squad is 55 set during the 1999 season. Ironically, the Irish went 43-18, captured the BIG EAST regular season title and reached the NCAA Regionals.
AROUND THE HORN -
FREQUENT FLYERS - Notre Dame has already done its fair share of travelling over its first 11 games of the season. The Irish, who recently finished off an eight-game, nine day swing of games in Florida and Texas, return to the Longhorn State for three more games this weekend. Notre Dame is about to embark on a stretch of eight more games in nine days (including six on the road. The Irish have logged more than 10,939 miles of total team travel this season (listings indicate round trip miles):
Air (Road) Tampa, Fla. 2,346 (238) Palm Beach, Fla. 2,630 (244) Corpus Christi, Texas 2,709 (96) San Antonio, Texas 2,484 (192) TOTAL round trip MILES 10,939 (770)
Who's Hot -- Senior SS Brett Lilley enters this weekend with a five-game hitting streak ... Lilley actually has a hit in 10 of Notre Dame's 11 games this season (hitless against Boston College on March 2) ... Eight of the 11 games Lilley has just a single hit ... Junior RHP Kyle Weiland has fanned 11 batters this season over just 6.0 innings ... Weiland has actually struck out seven of the last 11 batters he has faced.
Last Five Games
Last 10 Games
Irish Set For Familiar Trip To The Alamo City