Notre Dame (13-16-1, 4-5) vs. West Virginia (20-14, 6-3)
Notre Dame, Ind.
Frank Eck Stadium
Friday (7:00 p.m.)
RHP Brian Dupra (2-3, 1.64 ERA) vs. LHP Marshall Thompson (4-0, 4.50 ERA)
Saturday (4:05 p.m.)
RHP Cole Johnson (2-5, 2.83 ERA) vs. LHP Harrison Musgrave (3-2, 4.59 ERA)
Sunday (1:05 p.m.)
RHP Todd Miller (3-2, 3.74 ERA) vs. RHP Andy Berry (4-2, 4.71 ERA)
LIVE GAME COVERAGE
TV: ESPNU and ESPN3.com, Friday (Dari Nokah, pbp; Morgan Ensberg, color)
Live Video: UND.com, Sunday (Chuck Freeby, pbp)
Live Audio: WHME 103.1 FM (Chuck Freeby, pbp); UND.com
Live Stats: UND.com
Friday, April 15
High 58, Low 48
Saturday, April 16
High 57, Low 38
Sunday, April 17
High 50, Low 40
IN THE BATTERS BOX -- Notre Dame returns to action this weekend at Frank Eck Stadium for a three-game series with BIG EAST rival West Virginia. First pitch for the series opener on Friday is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and will be televised nationally on ESPNU. Saturday and Sunday's games will begin at 4:05 p.m. and 1:05 p.m. All three games can be heard on WHME 103.1 FM and UND.com. Sunday's game will also be streamed live on UND.com.
THIS WEEKEND'S STORY LINES -- Notre Dame plays host to West Virginia this weekend. The Mountaineers enter the series tied with Pittsburgh and Louisville for third place in the BIG EAST standings. Connecticut is alone atop the league, one game ahead of the aforementioned three teams. The Irish have already played the Huskies and Panthers.
Notre Dame owns a 38-20 (.655) all-time record against West Virginia, including a 18-7 mark at Frank Eck Stadium. The Mountaineers have captured five of the last seven overall meetings in the series, including a three-game sweep in Morgantown last year, but the Irish had taken the previous five series from West Virginia before 2010. The Mountaineers took two of three from Notre Dame in a three-game series at Frank Eck Stadium in 2003.
The series between Notre Dame and West Virginia will feature a matchup of arguably the BIG EAST's top hitting team against the league's top pitching staff. The Irish lead the league in fewest walks (67), fewest wild pitches (nine), fewest hit batters (18), rank third in ERA (2.92) and rank among the top five in seven other pitching categories, while the Mountaineers lead the BIG EAST in hitting (.312), slugging (.444), runs scored (224), hits (350), RBI (204) and home runs (24). West Virginia ranks among the top five in six other offensive categories.
Senior RHP Brian Dupra and senior RHP Cole Johnson have been saddled with awful run support the entire season. Dupra (1.64) and Johnson (2.83) rank fourth and 12th, respectively, in the BIG EAST in ERA, but the duo has combined for a 4-8 record. Notre Dame has scored a grand total of 53 runs over Dupra and Johnson's 16 combined starts or just 3.31 per game. That does include the 19 runs the Irish managed in Johnson's first start of 2011. Taking out that start, Notre Dame has averaged 2.27 runs in games started by the senior tandem.
The lack of run support has been even worse in BIG EAST action for Dupra. He has surrendered one earned run in 21.0 innings of work over three appearances (good for a 0.43 ERA), but owns an 0-1 record.
IRISH AT A GLANCE -- Notre Dame enters this weekend with a 13-16-1 record overall and 4-5 in the BIG EAST.
Notre Dame continues to play solid defense and benefit from quality pitching. The Irish have posted a .971 fielding percentage (third-best in the BIG EAST) with 34 errors over their first 30 games. Among BIG EAST teams, only St. John's has committed fewer defensive miscues this season than the Irish. Notre Dame owns a 2.92 ERA (third-best in the conference) and opponents are batting just .258 (fifth-best in the BIG EAST) against the Irish staff.
Notre Dame has already played 12 games decided by one run in 2011. The Irish are 5-7 in those outings and it does not include Notre Dame's 3-3 (12 inning) tie with Gonzaga on March 20. The Irish have also played five games decided by two runs and five more games have been decided by three runs. In all, 22 of Notre Dame's 30 games have been decided by three runs or less.
SCOUTING THE MOUNTAINEERS -- West Virginia enters the series with an 20-14 record overall and 6-3 mark in the conference. The Mountaineers have swept Georgetown, dropped two of three at Louisville and took two of three at USF to open the BIG EAST slate. Head coach Greg Van Zant is in his 17th season with West Virginia and ranks second in school history with 497 career victories.
West Virginia has compiled a .312 batting average this season. The Mountaineers have seven players in their everyday lineup hitting over .300. The group is led by Jeremy Gum, who ranks tied for third in the BIG EAST in doubles (11), fourth in batting average (.364), seventh in slugging percentage (.570) and seventh in on-base percentage (.452). Gum has also recorded 22 runs scored, 39 hits, one triple, three home runs, 22 RBI, five sacrifice bunts and two stolen bases (in three attempts). Brady Wilson is tied for the BIG EAST lead in hits (49), ranks tied for third in sacrifice bunts (eight), fifth in runs scored (29), sixth in hitting (.358) and 12th in on-base percentage (.426). Wilson has also registered six doubles, one triple, one home run, 24 RBI and six stolen bases (in seven attempts). Dan Dibartolomeo is the third on the Mountaineers in hitting with a .349 average (12th in the BIG EAST). He also ranks second in the league in runs scored (35), tied for third in home runs (five), fifth in hits (44), tied for fifth in total bases (66), eighth in on-base percentage (.441) and 11th in slugging percentage (.524). Dibartolomeo has also recorded five doubles, one triple, 24 RBI and six stolen bases (in 10 attempts). Irish killer Grant Buckner and Justin McDavid are the top two run producers for West Virginia. Buckner, who smacked four home runs and drove in 14 in last year's series, has a .320 batting average, four home runs and 26 RBI, while McDavid leads the club with 30 RBI.
The West Virginia pitchers have combined for a 5.35 ERA this season, yielding 4.17 walks per nine innings and a .280 opponents' batting average. The Mountaineers rank last in the BIG EAST in ERA, earned runs allowed (172), walks allowed (134), doubles allowed (59), home runs allowed (22) and hit batters (38). The freshman left-handed tandem of Marshall Thompson and Harrison Musgrave serve as the Mountaineers' top-two starters. Thompson is 4-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 32.0 innings of work over five appearances, all starts. He has allowed 17 runs, 16 earned, on 25 hits and his opponents are hitting just .219. Thompson as struck out 29 and walked 16. Musgrave is 3-2 with a 4.59 ERA in 49.0 innings of work over eight appearances, all starts. He has collected a pair of complete games, including a complete game shutout of Georgetown last week. Musgrave has allowed 29 runs, 25 earned, on 48 hits and his opponents are batting .255. He has struck out 35 and walked 19. Senior RHP Andy Berry will start on Sunday. He is 4-2 with a 4.71 ERA in 49.2 innings of work over eight appearances, all starts. Berry has allowed 31 runs, 26 earned, on 57 hits and his opponents are hitting .288. He has struck out 24 and walked 12. Corey Walter (2-2, 5.79 ERA in six appearances, three starts), Jonathan Jones (2-3, 6.07 ERA in seven appearances, all starts) and Josh McCauley (1-2, 3.86 ERA in nine appearances, two starts) are the remaining pitchers on the West Virginia staff to start a contest in 2011. Freshman RHP Ryan Tezak heads up the bullpen with a 1-0 record, a 2.81 ERA, two saves and a 2.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio (18 SO, 9 BB). Josh Harlow (1-1, 5.40 ERA), Marcus Broadwater (0-1, 7.90 ERA) and Michael Twigg (1-1, 10.45 ERA) have each made seven appearances out of the Mountaineer bullpen.
The Mountaineers have committed 36 errors for a .972 fielding clip and have allowed the second-most stolen bases (45) and second-most stolen base attempts (69) in the conference while swiping the fewest themselves (18).
WEST VIRGINIA INSIDER -- The Mountaineers have won their last three games entering the series with Notre Dame. West Virginia had dropped four of its last five outings prior to the three-game sweep of Georgetown last weekend. The Mountaineers opened the BIG EAST season with a series victory at USF, taking two of three after dropping series opener. West Virginia then took the series opener at Louisville, but proceeded to drop the final two games of the series with the Cardinals. The Mountaineers and Irish have played three common opponents in 2011. West Virginia topped Iowa (5-0 on Feb. 18), lost to Penn State (3-2 on Feb. 19) and swept Georgetown (4-3, 4-0, 6-4 on Apr. 8-10). Notre Dame dropped two games to the Hawkeyes (4-3 in 10 innings and 11-2 on March 17-18), beat the Nittany Lions (8-5 on Feb. 20) and took two of three from the Hoyas (3-2, 1-0 and 3-4 on March 25-27).
NOTRE DAME-WEST VIRGINIA SERIES NOTES -- Notre Dame has won 14 of its last 21 meetings with West Virginia (since 2003) and owns a 38-20 all-time series edge (29-17 since both teams joined the BIG EAST in 1996).
Including this weekend's trip, each of the Mountaineers last three trips (2007, 2009 and 2011) to Notre Dame have fallen on Blue-Gold Weekend. The Irish have taken two of three each series.
The Irish are 18-7 at home against the Mountaineers, including a sweep of the 2005 series (3-1, 5-1, 7-3) with a BIG EAST Tournament bid on the line (the BET featured just four team in 2005). Notre Dame also took two of three from West Virginia in 2009 over Blue-Gold Weekend. The Irish dropped the series opener, 19-3, but returned the following day and swept a doubleheader from the league-leading Mountaineers. Eric Maust capped off the sweep with a complete-game shutout in the night cap.
In 2007, Notre Dame took two of three from West Virginia over Blue-Gold Weekend (5-2, 17-6, 7-16).
The teams did not meet in the 2006 regular season, but Notre Dame beat West Virginia on the second day of the 2006 BIG EAST Tournament (12-4).
Notre Dame and West Virginia have me in six BIG EAST Tournaments (1996-99, 2003, 2006, 2008; Notre Dame 6-3 edge).
The Irish have won eight of the previous 11 season series against the Mountaineers.
West Virginia's 2003 visit to Eck Stadium (1-0, 5-7, 1-5) featured a classic pitchers duel in the opener as Notre Dame's Chris Niesel nearly posted a no-hitter while Shawn Miller took the tough-luck, 1-0 loss (Lee Fritz had a two-out bunt in the 7th and final inning for WVU's only hit).
The series has featured 13 games won by one run or in extra innings (Notre Dame is 11-2 in those games).
Notre Dame's 2002 team fell to 0-4 in BIG EAST play (9-10 overall) after a 4-2 loss at West Virginia, but rallied to win the nightcap (10-6), launching the Irish on to a BIG EAST regular-season (18-8) and tournament titles, a 50-18 overall record and a trip to the College World Series.
Notre Dame West Virginia
Batting Average .243 .312
Runs Per Game 4.0 6.6
Home Runs 8 24
Slugging Percentage .327 .445
Batters' BB+HBP-SO Margin -49 -24
On-Base Percentage .318 .387
Stolen Bases 28-47 18-28
Team ERA 2.92 5.35
Opponent Batting Average .258 .280
Pitchers' SO-BB Ratio 2.99 1.45
Pitchers' SO Per 9 Innings 6.63 6.03
Pitchers' BB Per 9 Innings 2.22 4.17
Fielding Pct. (Errors) .971 (34) .972 (36)
Double Plays Turned 19 21
Record at Home 5-4 14-4
Record on Road (including neutral) 8-12-1 6-10
Record in One-Run Games 5-7 6-4
Record in Extra Innings 2-2-1 0-1