March 27, 2008
IN THE BATTERS BOX -- Notre Dame opens its BIG EAST home portion of the schedule this weekend with a three-game tilt against Cincinnati. First pitch at Frank Eck Stadium for the series opener on Friday is scheduled for 5:05 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday's games will each begin at 1:05 p.m. All three games can be heard on ESPN Radio 1490 AM as well as UND.com (which will also provide webcasts).
CINCINNATI INSIDER -- The Bearcats, led by 12th-year head coach Brian Cleary, enters the series at Notre Dame with a 10-9 overall record and 2-1 BIG EAST mark after winning two mid-week games over Ohio University (14-6) and Toledo (7-3) on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Cincinnati also took two of three games at home against South Florida last weekend. Like the Irish, the Bearcats have played many close games. Nine of its 19 games have been decided by three runs or less.
Cincinnati, who has a 1-3 record on opponents' home fields, is averaging 6.1 runs per game and hitting .284 with a .370 on-base percentage. The Bearcats have also totaled 45 stolen bases in 59 attempts.
Tony Campana is hitting a team-best .346 with 16 stolen bases and nine RBI, while Kevin Johnson is batting .333 with three homers and 13 RBI. Mike Spina leads the club with 17 RBI and James Scott is the team-leader with 17 steals.
The pitching staff has a 4.06 ERA and .263 opponents' batting average along with 145 strikeouts and 48 walks in 162.0 innings pitched. Billy Welsh has an 0.00 ERA in eight relief appearances over 10.2 innings (five strikeouts), while Jake Geglein also has a 0.00 ERA and a team-best three saves in 8.2 innings (eight strikeouts). Cincinnati is fielding at a .965 clip as well.
THE STARTING PITCHERS -- Notre Dame will start junior right-hander David Phelps (3-2, 3.41 ERA) in the series opener. The Hazelwood, Missouri native has made five starts for a total of 31.2 innings pitched. He has allowed 26 hits and 10 walks while striking out 31. Phelps has not allowed a home run and opponents are batting .226 against him. He struggled in the season-opening loss to Liberty on Feb.22,but has rebounded with three consecutive quality starts against Mount St. Mary's (7 IP, 0R, 10 K), Buffalo (7 IP, 1 ER, 4K) and Georgetown (7 IP, 1 ER, 7K). Phelps has gone at least 5.0 innings in 20 of his last 21 starts.
Cincinnati will counter with junior lefthander Dan Osterbrock (1-2, 3.60 ERA) on Friday. The Cincinnati native has made four starts for a total of 25.0 innings pitched. He has allowed 28 hits (.267 opponents' batting average) and five walks with 23 strikeouts.
Senior southpaw Wade Korpi (3-1, 4.15 ERA) will take the mound in game two. Korpi has made five starts for a total of 30.1 innings pitched. The Santuluces, Florida native has allowed 30 hits and 18 walks with 21 strikeouts. He has allowed a team-high five home runs (none over his last three starts) and opponents are batting .261 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) against South Alabama on March 8.He made it three straight victories after his outings against Southern Illinois on March 15 (6 IP,3 H,0 R) and Georgetown on March 21 (7 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 4K).
The Bearcats will counter with junior righty Michael Hill (2-1, 2.49 ERA) on Saturday. The Proctorville, Ohio native has made four starts (one relief appearance) for a total of 25.1 innings pitched. He has allowed 24 hits (.245 opponents' batting average) and six walks with 22 strikeouts.
The Irish will turn to sophomore righty Eric Maust (1-0, 1.93 ERA) for series finale. The Alpharetta, Georgia native has made six appearances (four out of the bullpen) for a total of 23.1 innings. Maust, who made three starts last year, has allowed 20 hits and five walks with 20 strikeouts. He has allowed one home run and opponents are batting just .238 against him. In Maust's first start of 2008 against Texas Pan-American, he tossed 6.0+ innings and allowed two earned runs on nine hits. Maust fanned five and walked none. He held the Broncos scoreless over the first six innings before allowing back-to-back doubles to open the seventh.Maust got better in his second start, going 8.0 scoreless innings and fanning five against Georgetown on March 22.
Cincinnati will counter with sophomore right-handed hurler Tyler Smith (1-2, 4.18 ERA). The Bryan, Ohio native has made five starts for a total of 28.0 innings pitched. He has allowed 24 hits (.224 opponents' batting average) and five walks with 31 strikeouts.
SERIES NOTES - Notre Dame and Cincinnati have met 28 times on the diamond, with the Irish holding a 16-12 lead in the series dating back to the 1948 season. Last year at Cincinnati, the Bearcats won two of three games, including wins by identical scores of 4-3 and 4-3 before Notre Dame won game-three 9-5. It marked the first ever meeting between the two schools as members of the BIG EAST Conference. The Irish had captured the previous seven meetings and 13 of 16.
The Irish holds a 10-1 lead over the Bearcats in games played at Notre Dame and 3-0 lead at Frank Eck Stadium.
Dave Schrage has a 1-2 record against Cincinnati as Notre Dame's head coach. Schrage was 0-4 against the Bearcats as Northern Illinois' head coach, meaning he has a 1-6 all-time record against Cincinnati.
First BIG EAST Home Series On Tap As Cincinnati Comes Calling