March 27, 2009
IN THE BATTERS BOX -- Notre Dame returns to BIG EAST action this weekend with a three-game series at Pittsburgh. First pitch at Trees Field for the series opener on Friday is scheduled for 3:00 p.m., while Saturday's game will begin at 1:00 p.m. and Sunday's finale is slated for Noon. All three games can be heard on WHME 103.1 FM as well as UND.com.
PITTSBURGH INSIDER -- The Panthers opened the season with three losses over their first four games, including defeats to Bradley, Navy and Ohio. Pittsburgh has since won 12 of its last 15 games, including take two of three last weekend at BIG EAST foe Cincinnati. The Panthers took the opener over the Bearcats in convincing fashion, 18-4, before shutting out Cincinnati the next afternoon. The Bearcats did salvage the final game of the series, 9-5.
BIG EAST ROAD OPENERS -- Notre Dame is playing its 14th year as a member of the BIG EAST Conference. The Irish are 7-6 all-time in its BIG EAST road openers.
BIG EAST ROAD OPENERS 1996 W 9-0 at Boston College 1997 L 4-5 at Seton Hall 1998 W 5-2 at Boston College 1999 W 4-1 at West Virginia 2000 W 4-0 at Villanova 2001 W 3-0 at Pittsburgh 2002 L 3-4 at Connecticut 2003 L 2-3 at Villanova 2004 W 5-3 at West Virginia 2005 L 3-5 at Rutgers 2006 L 3-8 at Georgetown 2007 L 2-4 at Pittsburgh 2008 W 25-1 at Georgetown Totals 7-6 (1-1 vs. Pittsburgh)BIG EAST ROAD OPENING WEEKENDS -- Notre Dame is 21-17 overall in BIG EAST road opening weekends, including a 2-2 mark against Pittsburgh. The Irish swept a two-game series in 2001, while the Panthers returned the favor in a rain-shortened series in 2007.
BIG EAST OPENING WEEKENDS 1996 3-1 at Boston College (2-0), at Providence (1-1) 1997 0-3 at Seton Hall 1998 3-0 at Boston College 1999 2-0 at West Virginia 2000 2-1 at Villanova 2001 2-2 at Pittsburgh (2-0), at Virginia Tech (0-2) 2002 0-3 at Connecticut 2003 1-2 at Villanova 2004 3-0 at West Virginia 2005 0-2 at Rutgers 2006 2-1 at Georgetown 2007 0-2 at Pittsburgh 2008 3-0 at Georgetown Totals 21-17 (2-2 vs. Pittsburgh)
THE STARTING PITCHERS -- Notre Dame will start sophomore right-hander Cole Johnson (2-0, 3.00 ERA) in the series opener. The Hudson, Ohio native has made 17 career appearances (five this season with four starts), including six starts for a total of 62.2 innings pitched. He has allowed 61 hits and 22 walks while striking out 49. Johnson has allowed six home runs and opponents are batting .262 against him over his career. He picked up the victory in relief against Illinois on Feb. 21. Johnson tossed 3.0 innings and allowed one earned run on a pair of hits. He struck out two and walked one. In his first start of the season, he tossed 4.0 innings and allowed two earned runs on two hits with three strikeouts and two walks (worked on a pitch count as he continues to build stamina after missing over a month after falling off his bike riding across campus) in a no-decision against Gonzaga, but has been top-notch his last two times out against Oral Roberts and Illinois State. Johnson was not involved in the decision in either contest, but he has allowed just two earned runs on six hits in 13.0 innings. He has fanned 10, walked nine and opponents batted .154 against him. Johnson picked up the win in last weekend's series opener against Seton Hall. He allowed four earned runs on five hits in 7.0 innings of work.
Sophomore right-handed hurler Brian Dupra (2-3, 6.67 ERA) will take the mound on Saturday. Dupra has made 16 career appearances and 14 career starts (including five this season) for a total of 74.2 innings pitched. The Rochester, N.Y. native has allowed 100 hits and 19 walks with 47 strikeouts. He has allowed three home runs and opponents are batting .322 against him over his career. Dupra started the season opener against Ohio State and pitched very well, but was charged with the loss. He allowed six hits and two earned runs in 6.1 innings of work. Dupra struck out a pair and walked one. He then struck out a career-high six in 5.1 innings last weekend in a victory over Dayton, but struggled mightily against #7 Rice before regrouping against Texas-Pan American last weekend. Maust was roughed up for seven earned runs on seven hits in 3.0 innings against the Owls. He then allowed four runs over the first two innings against UTPA, but settled down and held the Broncos scoreless over his final five innings. Dupra went 7.0 innings and was charged with four earned runs on eight hits. He fanned four and walked four. Dupra tossed 6.2 innings in his last start agains Seton Hall and yielded three earned runs on nine hits, but was victimized by a couple errors that allowed four other unearned runs to score. He took the defeat.
The Irish will turn to junior righty Eric Maust (2-1, 4.16 ERA) for the series finale. The Alpharetta, Georgia native has made 34 career appearances and 18 career starts (both are most on the Irish staff) for a total of 142.2 innings pitched. Maust has allowed 164 hits and 41 walks with 86 strikeouts. He has allowed seven home runs and opponents are batting .287 against him over his career. Maust, who has started five games in 2009, was victimized by a couple errors that resulted in three unearned runs in the first inning of his first start against Illinois, but settled down to retire 11 of the next 12 Illini batters, including nine consecutive at one point before running into trouble with command in the top of the fifth inning. With two outs, Maust proceeded to walk three straight Illinois batters before a three-run triple gave Illinois a 6-3 advantage. He allowed four hits and three earned runs in 5.0 innings of work. Maust struck out one and walked three. He went 5.1 innings and surrendered two earned runs with a strikeout and no walks in a no-decision against Creighton. Maust regained the form that saw him earn all-BIG EAST honors last year over his two starts against Washington State and Texas-Pan American. He went 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA. Maust has surrendered four earned runs on 10 hits in 14.0 innings (including a seven-inning complete against UTPA).
SCOUTING PITTSBURGH -- The Panthers, led by 12th year head coach Joe Jordano, enter the weekend owning a 13-6 overall record and 2-1 mark in BIG EAST play. The Panthers opened the season with three losses over their first four games, including defeats to Bradley, Navy and Ohio. Pittsburgh has since won 12 of its last 15 games, including take two of three last weekend at BIG EAST foe Cincinnati. The Panthers took the opener over the Bearcats in convincing fashion, 18-4, before shutting out Cincinnati the next afternoon. The Bearcats did salvage the final game of the series, 9-5.
TALE OF THE TAPE (2009 STATS) Notre Dame Pittsburgh Batting Average .307 .321 Runs Per Game 6.7 8.5 Home Runs 8 22 Slugging Percentage .401 .491 Batters' BB+HBP-K Margin +1 -40 On-Base Percentage .397 .395 Stolen Bases 28-43 34-47 Team ERA 4.48 5.39 Opponent Batting Average .262 .293 Pitchers' K-BB Ratio 1.4 2.0 Pitchers' Ks Per 9 Innings 6.1 7.7 Pitchers' BB Per 9 Innings 4.4 3.9 Fielding Pct. (Errors) .971 (25) .968 (24) Double Plays Turned 15 21 Record at Home 4-3 3-1 Record on Road (including neutral) 10-5 11-5 Record in One-Run Games 3-2 4-2 Record in Extra Innings 1-0 0-0
ON DECK -- After this weekend's series, Notre Dame hosts Michigan State (6:05 p.m.) and Toledo (6:05 p.m.) on Tuesday and Wednesday at Frank Eck Stadium. The Irish will then host Villanova in a three-game BIG EAST series next weekend at Frank Eck Stadium.
RANKINGS -- Notre Dame and Pittsburgh are unranked in each of the four polls.
FREEBIES UPDATE -- Over his years as a head coach, Notre Dame skipper Dave Schrage has utilized a formula to measure how many free bases a team allows during a given year. The formula adds walks allowed, errors, stolen bases allowed, hit batters, wild pitches, passed balls, and balks and divides that total by the number of games played. In 2007, the Irish allowed nearly 8.7 "freebies" per game. By comparison, Notre Dame's 2006 team allowed just 6.2 per game en route to totaling 45 wins. The Irish made tremendous strides a year ago, allowing just 7.4 per game.
Freebies 2009 2008 2007 2006 Walks Allowed 96 178 191 170 Errors 25 54 83 68 SB Allowed 23 62 73 65 Hit Batters 21 47 61 50 Wild Pitches 12 35 45 23 Passed Balls 0 8 27 6 Balks 1 9 5 7 TOTAL 178 (8.1/gm) 393 (7.4/gm) 485 (8.7/gm) 389 (6.2/gm)AROUND THE HORN --
IF ONLY AN INNING ENDED WITH TWO OUTS -- Notre Dame had allowed 37 runs and a .220 batting average (39-for-177) with two outs entering the weekend (over its first 17 games), but Seton Hall registered 19 runs, 16 RBI and a .440 batting average (22-for-50) with two outs over the three-game series.
NOTRE DAME LOVES ITS R & R -- Freshman reliever and South Bend native Ryan Richter has not wasted much time in making an impact for his hometown Irish. Richter, who missed most of his senior season with an injury, has made four appearances for Notre Dame and sports a 2-0 record with a 1.00 earned run average in 9.0 innings of work. He has yielded eight hits and four walks, along with six strikeouts, while opponents are batting just .229 against him. Richter attended St. Joseph's High School, mere minutes from the Notre Dame campus. He could become the 21st South Bend native to monogram with the Irish baseball team and seventh from St. Joe, including the likes of Matt Nussbaum (1999-00), Tony Zappia (1970-71), Marty DeGraff (1993-94), Joe Kernan (1967-68), Nick Mainieri (2004-05) and Michael McNeill (1985).
MILLS, POLLOCK LOVE HOME COOKING -- The junior tandem of David Mills and A.J. Pollock have exploded since returning from Notre Dame's spring trip. The duo batted a combined .446 (25-for-56) in the opening seven-game homestand for the Irish. Pollock hit .464 (13-for-28) with 11 runs scored, a double, two home runs, nine RBI and five stolen bases. Mills batted .429 (12-for-28) with 10 runs scored, five RBI and two stolen bases. Pollock has notoriously destroyed pitching at Frank Eck Stadium over his career. He is a career .451 hitter (79-for-175) at the friendly confines. Pollock batted .486 (36-for-74) with 25 runs scored, six doubles, two triples, three home runs, 20 RBI and 10 stolen bases in home games a year ago.
AS BARNES GOES, SO GO THE IRISH -- Notre Dame senior Jeremy Barnes has had a remarkable start to the 2009 season. Barnes is hitting .354 with six doubles, three triples, three home runs and 26 RBI, but his performance in victories is even more impressive. Barnes leads the Irish with a .481 batting average (25-for-52), .769 slugging percentage and .569 on-base percentage in their 14 victories. On the other hand, he is hitting just .111 (3-for-27) with a .250 slugging percentage and .185 on-base percentage in Notre Dame's eight losses. In fact, the Irish are 12-3 when Barnes has a hit and a perfect 8-0 when he has a multi-hit affair.
MILLS MAKES MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS FROM THE BUMP -- Notre Dame junior David Mills got plenty of recognition in 2008 for his efforts at the plate. The outfielder was named first team all-BIG EAST after hitting .349 with six triples, two home runs and 26 RBI. However, Mills did not experience the same type success on the mound. He went 1-0 in 11 relief appearances, but posted a 6.23 ERA and opponents batted .450 against him. In 2009, Mills has not only continued his tear at the plate, but has become a reliable option out of the Notre Dame bullpen. He is 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in six relief appearances. Mills has struck out six, walked three and surrendered six hits in 8.2 innings of work. In fact, opponents are batting just .200 against him.
SLINGING Sam Elam -- Senior Sam Elam has experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows over his career with the Irish. Elam, considered the top-pitching prospect in the entire BIG EAST conference following the summer of 2007, made just one appearance in 2008 dealing with major control problems. He walked four, uncorked three wild pitches and allowed two earned runs on no hits in 1.0 inning. This from the same pitcher that took a no-hitter into the eighth inning (two outs) against Purdue on April 18, 2007. Elam went the distance that night and blanked the Boilermakers on just one hit with nine strikeouts. He has shown signs of regaining the form of 2006 and 2007. Elam fanned a pair in his scoreless inning of work against Dayton on Feb. 28 and tossed 3.0 more effective innings of relief against Central Michigan on March 24. The southpaw allowed just a pair of infield hits and one earned run, but struck out five and walked two. The outing was Elam's longest of the season and longest since going 4.1 innings on April 24, 2007 against Rutgers.
SHINING UNDER THE GOLDEN DOME -- Sophomore Golden Tate blossomed into one of the most improved wide receivers in the country this past fall. He led the Irish in receptions (58), receiving yards (1,080), receiving touchdowns (10) and total touchdowns (11). Tate ranked tied for 83rd in the NCAA FBS in receptions per game (4.46), 28th in receiving yards per game (83.08), 22nd in total receiving yards (1,080) and tied for 16th in receiving touchdowns (10). He became the fifth Irish wideout (sixth time) to ever eclipse 1,000 yards in a single season. Tate recorded 1,754 all-purpose yards (third-most in Notre Dame history), the most by an Irish player since Tim Brown in 1987.
COLE FAR FROM COLD -- Sophomore starting pitcher Cole Johnson had a phenomenal fall season that pushed him to the front of the Irish rotation. However, his status at the beginning of the year was in question after a bike accident on campus. Johnson was riding his bike to class when he lost control on a patch of ice. He landed on his throwing shoulder, leaving him out for nearly an entire month (January), but Johnson rehabilitated and has established himself as the one of the starters in the BIG EAST. He enters this weekend with a 2-0 record and a 3.00 earned run average. Johnson has struck out 21, walked 14 and allowed only 15 hits in 27.0 innings of work (opponents are hitting just .167 against him). Johnson has tossed at least 6.0 innings in each of this last three starts, including 6.0 scoreless innings of one-hit baseball against Oral Roberts on March 6.
FRESHMEN ARMS ACTING FAR FROM IT -- Notre Dame entered this season with tremendous depth in its pitching staff and much of it was due in part to a large contingent of freshmen. LHP Ryan Richter, LHP Dustin Ispas, RHP Will Hudgins, LHP Steve Sabatino and LHP Joe Spano have each made their respective contributions early in 2009. The quintet owns a combined 4-1 record with a 3.34 ERA in 62.0 innings of work and opponents are batting just .235 against the group.
FIGHTING FOR A CURE -- Senior Ryan Connolly has faced adversity over his career at Notre Dame. The outfielder/catcher has seen limited playing time over the past two years due to a reoccurring shoulder injury -- an injury that caused him to miss his entire freshman season in 2006. But, this adversity all pails in comparison to what Connolly faced in 2002 as a 15-year old sophomore in high school.
Last five Games Player AVG GP-GS AB R H 2B-3B-HR RBI SLG% BB HBP OB% SF SH SB Pollock .545 5-5 22 9 12 2-0-2 7 .909 1 0 .565 0 0 3-5 Mills .450 5-5 20 8 9 0-0-0 3 .450 4 0 .542 0 0 1-2 Barnes .368 5-5 19 4 7 1-1-1 8 .684 2 1 .435 1 0 0-1 Sherry .294 5-5 17 2 5 0-0-0 4 .294 1 1 .368 0 0 0-0 Tate .261 5-5 23 3 6 1-0-0 2 .304 0 0 .261 0 0 1-1 McConnell .231 5-4 13 0 3 1-0-0 1 .308 1 1 .333 0 0 0-0 -------------- Boockford 1.000 2-0 1 1 1 0-0-0 0 1.000 0 0 1.000 0 0 0-0 Scioscia .429 3-2 7 0 3 0-0-0 4 .429 0 0 .375 1 0 0-0 Casey .429 4-1 7 2 3 1-0-0 0 .571 2 0 .556 0 0 0-0 Chase .400 2-2 5 2 2 0-0-0 1 .400 0 3 .625 0 1 0-0 Grosso .375 4-1 8 2 3 0-0-0 1 .375 2 0 .500 0 0 0-0 Sharpley .333 4-3 9 2 3 0-1-1 2 .889 4 0 .538 0 0 0-0 Doyle .167 3-2 6 1 1 1-0-0 0 .333 0 0 .167 0 1 0-0 Connolly .000 3-2 5 0 0 0-0-0 0 .000 0 1 .167 0 0 0-1 Martin .000 3-1 4 0 0 0-0-0 0 .000 0 0 .000 0 0 0-0 Ashdown .000 2-1 3 1 0 0-0-0 0 .000 0 1 .250 0 0 0-0 Intlekofer .000 2-1 3 0 0 0-0-0 0 .000 0 0 .000 0 0 0-0 Robinson .000 1-0 1 0 0 0-0-0 0 .000 0 0 .000 0 0 0-0 Totals .335 5-5 173 37 58 7-2-4 33 .468 17 8 .415 2 2 5-10 Opponents .299 5-5 184 38 55 10-3-2 35 .418 24 7 .394 3 2 6-9NOTRE DAME NOTES FROM SETON HALL SERIES -- The Notre Dame baseball team dropped two of three games this past weekend against Seton Hall. The Irish opened the weekend with a 9-4 rout of the Pirates high-potential draft pick Sean Black, but Seton Hall took the next two games, 9-4 and 11-4 to secure the series triumph.
NOTRE DAME NOTES FROM RICE CLASSIC -- The Notre Dame baseball team took two of three games this past weekend at the Rice Classic. The Irish opened the weekend with a nail biting 2-1 victory over Oral Roberts. After No. 7 Rice blanked Notre Dame, 9-0, the Irish upended Washington State, 7-3, to secure a tie for the tournament championship. The host Owls, Golden Eagles and Irish all finished the weekend with identical 2-1 records.
NOTRE DAME NOTES FROM PHOENIX COLLEGE CLASSIC -- The Notre Dame baseball team dropped two of its three games at the Phoenix College Classic hosted by the University of Dayton. The Irish lost their weekend opener against Gonzaga, 7-3, and weekend finale versus Creighton, 6-3, but routed the host Flyers, 14-5.
RECAPPING THE BIG EAST / BIG TEN CHALLENGE -- Notre Dame opened the season taking two of three games in the inaugural 2009 BIG EAST / Big Ten Baseball Challenge. The Irish were one of three BIG EAST schools to post a 2-1 record. Notre Dame also was the only school among the 18-team field that ranked among the top five in both batting (third) and ERA (third) over the tournament.
NOTRE DAME, NORTHWESTERN SQUARE OFF AT U.S. CELLULAR FIELD -- Northwestern University and the University of Notre Dame baseball teams will play a game at U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, on Wednesday, April 15 at 7:00 p.m. The White Sox and the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority (ISFA) are hosting the game at the ballpark. Last year, the White Sox and ISFA hosted a game between Northern Illinois and Notre Dame, with all proceeds benefitting the NIU February 14 Scholarship Fund. This year's game will benefit Chicago White Sox Charities. Chicago White Sox Charities provides annual financial, in-kind and emotional support to hundreds of Chicago-based organizations, including those leading the fight against cancer or dedicated to improving the lives of Chicago's youth through education and athletics. Tickets for the game are $10 and will be available through whitesox.com and at the U.S. Cellular Field box office beginning the week of March 16. Parking for the game is complimentary and will be in Lot B of U.S. Cellular Field. Gates will open one hour prior to first pitch.
PRO PARKS -- Notre Dame and Northwestern will play at U.S. Cellular Field on April 15. The Irish played at U.S. Cellular Field last season and knocked off Northern Illinois, 5-4. Notre Dame has recently have played at several pro parks, including three college games and the 2001 exhibition vs. the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at their spring training site, Florida Power Park, plus 2002, '04 and '05 games in Texas at both Dell Diamond (home of triple-A Astros affiliate Round Rock Express) and Wolff Stadium (double-A San Antonio Missions), plus '06-'09 games at Wolff and the 2008 Whataburger Classic at Whataburger Field (home of the double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, also an Astros affiliate). The Irish also played Dayton in '05 at HoHoKam Park (Chicago Cubs spring-training; Mesa, Ariz.) while the 2006 & 2008 BIG EAST Championships were held in Clearwater, Fla., at Bright House Networks Field (spring training for the Philadelphia Phillies) and the 2007 BIG EAST Championship was in Brooklyn, N.Y., at Keyspan Park (home to the Brooklyn Cyclones, Mets single-A). Notre Dame played at another elite minor-league facility in 2007 (Coastal Federal Field; Baseball at the Beach tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C.). The Irish opened this season with their first two games at the Major League Spring Training facilities of the Toronto Blue Jays (Knology Park, Dunedin, Fla.) and Pittsburgh Pirates (McKenchie Field, Bradenton, Fla.). Notre Dame will play two games at Diablo Stadium -- spring training home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
A.J. Pollock PRESEASON HONOR ROLL -- Notre Dame junior OF A.J. Pollock was named first team preseason All-American by Baseball America. He was one of just two players from the BIG EAST Conference to be named to the first, second or third team. Pollock has already been named second team All-American by Collegiate Baseball and third team by CollegeBaseballInsider.com. He has also been named to the Wallace Award Watch List and listed as the 39th overall prospect, 16th collegiate prospect and top overall prospect from the BIG EAST Conference for the 2009 MLB Draft by Baseball America. Pollock was also ranked as the seventh-best prospect from the Cape Cod League by Baseball America following his Most Valuable Player season this past summer. He was most recently recognized by Baseball America as the 10th-ranked player from the junior class.
Irish Picked By Baseball America To Return To NCAA Tournament -- Notre Dame was well represented in Baseball America's 2009 season preview. The Irish, picked to finish second in the BIG EAST, was projected to reach the NCAA Tournament's field of 64. Notre Dame was penciled into the Irvine Regional as the fourth seed. UC Irvine was the host and top-seed, while Stanford (#2 seed) and defending national champion Fresno State (#3 seed) rounded out the regional. The Irish had three players listed among the top 50 in their respective class. LHP Sam Elam was rated the 39th-best senior in the nation, while OF A.J. Pollock was the 10th-ranked junior and RHP Evan Danieli was the 48th-rated sophomore. Pollock not only was named all-BIG EAST, but was also listed by the publication as a first team All-American. He and Louisville third baseman Chris Dominguez were the only two BIG EAST players honored. Sophomore RHP Brian Dupra was also named the first team all-BIG EAST relief pitcher. Danieli and Dupra were ranked as the second and third best prospects in the league heading into the 2010 MLB Draft.
MAUST, POLLOCK AND BARNES NAMED PRESEASON ALL-BIG EAST FIRST TEAM -- Notre Dame placed the trio of junior RHP Eric Maust, junior OF A.J. Pollock and senior SS Jeremy Barnes on the preseason All-BIG EAST squad. No other conference school had more players on the 14-man squad than Notre Dame.
IRISH PICKED THIRD BY BIG EAST COACHES -- The University of Notre Dame baseball team was picked to finish third in the 2009 BIG EAST preseason baseball poll as determined by a vote of the league's 12 head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams. The Irish received a total of 99 points.
Team Points 2008 Record 1. Louisville 121 (11) 41-19, 16-11 2. USF 103 31-27, 14-13 3. Notre Dame 99 33-21-1, 16-10 4. St. John's 93 (1) 41-14, 20-7 5. Cincinnati 77 23-11, 19-8 6. Connecticut 62 27-28, 11-16 7. West Virginia 60 35-21, 13-14 8. Rutgers 58 23-29-1, 11-16 9. Seton Hall 49 31-25, 15-12 10. Villanova 31 30-28, 12-15 11. Pittsburgh 27 19-34, 7-19 12. Georgetown 12 18-32, 7-20
Irish Baseball Hits Road For Red Hot Pittsburgh