March 17, 2014
Game 19: Robert Morris (IL) (NAIA)
Robert Morris (IL): 7-4, 0-0 CCAC (33-18, 19-8 CCAC In 2013)
Projected Pitching Matchups:
Live Game Coverage:
Weather Report (as of Monday, March 17):
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - After playing its first 18 games in Florida, Texas and North Carolina, the University of Notre Dame baseball team is back in the region this week as the Irish kick off their home away from home season with an 8:05 p.m. ET (7:05 p.m. CT) game Tuesday against NAIA school Robert Morris (IL) at Chicago State's Cougar Stadium.
Due to ongoing FieldTurf work at Frank Eck Stadium, the Irish will open the home portion of their 2014 schedule on the road, as they bounce around between Chicago State, Four Winds Field in South Bend and the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Ind., primarily.
The meeting between the schools is the first and will come on the night after the Robert Morris men's basketball team played in the semifinals of the "Fab Four," NAIA's version of the Final Four, and the Notre Dame women's basketball team found out its first stop as it looks to make a fourth consecutive Final Four.
Robert Morris (7-4) competes in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference and is playing a doubleheader with Goshen College at Four Winds Field in South Bend Monday night.
The Irish (6-12) are coming off a tough spring break trip that saw them lose all six ACC games they played by an average of just 2.5 runs per game. In addition, two of the losses were by 1-0 scores and two others were by margins of two runs or less.
Notre Dame will throw lefty Robert Youngdahl (1-1, 2.30 ERA) Tuesday night against Robert Morris. The Eagles will counter with righty Mike Topp.
Fans can follow the contest threw gametracker and WatchND as Chuck Freeby will broadcast live from Cougar Stadium for WHME 103.1 FM. Links for both are available on UND.com. On Twitter, game updates will be available through @NDBaseball.
AROUND THE BASES
Starting pitchers Sean Fitzgerald (2-1) and Nick McCarty (0-4) have given the Irish bullpen and bats some much needed relief so far this season as it has become common for them to go 6+ innings and give up three runs or less per outing. The two have combined to post seven quality starts out of 10 opportunities, with Fitzgerald currently riding a streak of four quality starts in a row while McCarty has three in his last four appearances. The two have combined for 43 strikeouts as opposed to 16 walks and have given up 22 earned runs in 60 innings of work.
While Fitzgerald and McCarty have provided stability on the pitching staff, freshman third baseman Kyle Fiala has provided the same on the offensive end as of late as he enters Tuesday night with a 10-game hitting streak and a 14-game on-base streak. After starting off his career hitless in the team's first four games, the Carmel, Ind., product has hit .288 with 15 hits, two doubles, four RBI, six walks and eight runs scored in Notre Dame's last 14 contests. After watching from the bench in the team's opening series at Florida Atlantic, Fiala has started every game since at third base to give Notre Dame two regular starters in the infield (2B Cavan Biggio being the other) that are in their rookie year under the Golden Dome.
Despite a rough first third of the season, the Irish are playing tough against everyone they step on the field with. Removing the wildly random opening series against Florida Atlantic where the Irish blasted the Owls in the first game of the season, 9-2, but then were blown out in the final two games, 16-6 and 13-3, Notre Dame has won or lost by two runs or less in 10 of the 15 games since opening weekend. Included in that total is a remarkable eight one-run games. This staggering total is nothing new to head coach Mik Aoki, as his Irish squads have played in 65 one-run games since his arrival in 2011 with a whopping 89 having been decided by two runs or less. Playing in just 187 games in three-plus years, that last number tells that almost 48 percent of Aoki's games at Notre Dame have ended in decisions that were two runs or less.
--Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director