March 13, 2014
ACC Series 2: Duke
Duke: 9-8, 1-2 ACC (26-29, 9-21 ACC In 2013)
Live Game Coverage:
Weather Report (as of Thursday, March 13):
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The University of Notre Dame baseball team continues its trip down Tobacco Road this weekend as the Irish play at Atlantic Coast Conference foe Duke. The three-game set gets underway at 6 p.m. Friday at Jack Coombs Stadium in Durham, N.C. Games on Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (12 p.m.) wrap up the series.
Fans can follow all three games through live stats and Notre Dame's radio broadcast on WHME 103.1 FM/WatchND with the voice of the Irish, Chuck Freeby, on the call. Friday and Saturday's contests are available on ESPN3, while Sunday's game will be streamed through the Blue Devil Network for $9.95. Links for all of these services are on UND.com.
Notre Dame (6-9, 0-3 ACC) enters the weekend on the heels of another extra-inning thriller against Appalachian State. The come-from-behind win is documented in more detail in the around the bases segment below. Last weekend, the Irish were swept at No. 6 NC State in their first ACC series in program history, but not before they gave the Wolfpack a run for their money. Notre Dame carried a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning in game one as they went toe-to-toe with All-American pitcher and potential No. 1 overall pick in the June 2014 Major League Baseball Draft Carlos Rodon. However, State rallied to win that game, 5-3, and then preceded to shutout the Irish 1-0 and 7-0 in the final two games of the series.
Duke (9-8, 1-2 ACC) split mid-week games against Quinnipiac (W, 16-5) and Furman (L, 11-9), but gave No. 3 Virginia all it could handle last weekend in a 2-1 series loss. The Blue Devils lost game one, 3-2, won game two, 3-2, and lost game three, 2-1, as they came within a couple of runs of sweeping the highly ranked Cavaliers.
On the bump for Notre Dame this weekend will be senior Sean Fitzgerald (2-1, 2.55 ERA) Friday, sophomore Nick McCarty (0-3, 3.04 ERA) Saturday and a player to be named for Sunday's series finale. Duke will counter with Drew Van Orden (1-1, 4.60 ERA), Andrew Istler (2-2, 0.81 ERA) and Michael Matuella (0-0, 0.00 ERA).
At the plate, junior Chris Marconcini and senior Jordan Betts are each batting .324 to pace the team. Maroncini tops the ACC in homers (5), RBI (20) and total bases (41) and has also added four doubles and 14 runs scored. Betts has totaled six doubles, two triples and 10 runs scored while producing 22 hits.
The two teams have met nine times with the Blue Devils holding a slim 5-4 lead. The first meeting occurred all the way back in 1955, while the last meeting was in 1998.
AROUND THE BASES
Wild Appalachian State Game Looked Sneakily Like The First One
Anyone following along during the Appalachian State game Tuesday night might have felt that they had heard that story before. Well it's because you have. The Irish beat the Mountaineers twice in nine days in come-from-behind, extra-inning affairs that shared even more similarities.
In both games against the Mountaineers ...
... Notre Dame scored first
The other oddity that is notable occurred solely in Tuesday's game against App State. Coming into the game, Notre Dame had totaled one triple and three homers on the year. In the fifth inning, Ricky Sanchez hit a two-run triple that was immediately followed by a two-run homer from Robert Youngdahl. In the 10th inning, Lane Richards hit an RBI triple that was immediately followed by a two-run home run from Forrest Johnson.
All in all, the best stat from these two games is ultimately the Notre Dame record - 2-0.
Johnson Relives First Career Homer
With Notre Dame up 11-9 in the top of the 10th inning, senior catcher Forrest Johnson stepped to the plate for his first at-bat of the game after entering in the ninth as a defensive replacement. The first pitch the Hudson, Ohio native saw was a fastball that he ripped over the fence for his first career homer. A two-run job, the homer put the Irish out in front 13-9 and was an emphatic conclusion to the Notre Dame comeback.
"With a guy on third and two outs I knew that was my opportunity to come up there and take a huge swing on the ball knowing that I was probably going to get a fastball," said Johnson. With Lane (Richards) getting us a two-run lead some of the pressure was off, but in a game like that an extra two runs could have been very important.
I was going up there hunting a fastball, middle in and luckily I got that pitch. I knew immediately (that it was gone), which is rare because I'm not really a home run hitter. But as soon as I hit it I didn't feel anything, which typically means you hit it on the sweet spot, right on the barrel. Once I took one or two steps out of the box I knew it was gone. It was a really fun experience. I couldn't help but smile and joke around with my teammates afterwards."
Extra-Inning Games (Part Two)
The Irish have played three extra-inning games this season and are 2-1 in those contests. Both wins have come over Appalachian State. Notre Dame is now 11-12-1 in extra-inning affairs under head coach Mik Aoki.
Turning Double Plays
Heading into this weekend, the Irish continue to lead the nation in double plays (22) and double plays per game (1.47).
Reaching Base Consistently
Entering the weekend series against Duke, freshman third baseman Kyle Fiala is sporting a seven-game hitting streak and an 11-game on-base streak after going 0-for-6 in his first four collegiate games. Since the on-base streak began, Fiala is hitting .300 with 12 hits, two doubles, two RBI, five walks and a team-leading seven runs scored.
Connaughton Back On The Diamond
Less than 26 hours after the Notre Dame men's basketball season ended at the ACC Tournament, junior RHP Pat Connaughton took the mound for an inning of work in an intra-squad scrimmage.
--Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director