May 1, 2014
ACC Series 8: Maryland
Maryland: 25-19, 9-14 ACC (30-25, 11-19 ACC In 2013)
Live Game Coverage:
Weather Report (as of Thursday, May 1):
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Looking to end the road Atlantic Coast Conference season on a high note, the University of Notre Dame baseball team is off to College Park, Md., for a three-game weekend set with the Maryland Terrapins.
Game one of the series gets underway at 6:30 p.m. Friday and will be followed by a 2 p.m. Saturday contest and a 1 p.m. Sunday showdown.
While Notre Dame (17-27, 4-17 ACC) is wrapping up its first season in the ACC, Maryland (25-19, 9-14 ACC) is closing out its final year in the historic league as the Terrapins move to the Big Ten next season.
The two squads have never met on the baseball diamond, but Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki coached his Boston College Eagles to a 9-3 record against the Terrapins during his four-year tenure at BC from 2007-10.
Pitching matchups are still a bit up in the air for the weekend. With Irish senior ace Sean Fitzgerald (3-3) still working through a sore forearm, junior Pat Connaughton (1-4) moves into the Friday night role. He is set to do battle with Maryland ace Jake Stinnett (4-6).
Stinnett, who sports a 2.92 ERA, is tied for first in the ACC in strikeouts (94), tied for second in innings pitched (80.0) and is fourth in opponent batting average (.182). Connaughton, meanwhile, has been going longer in games his last three outings, including hurling the top two outings in terms of innings pitched in his career (9.0 and 7.2) in games against Boston College and then-No. 11 Miami.
Saturday will witness LHP Michael Hearne (4-4) go against RHP Mike Shawaryn (7-3). Shawaryn is tied for second in the ACC in wins, while Hearne has been extremely steady as of late in winning his last three starts, including a complete game shutout against Boston College and a road ACC victory over then-No. 11 Miami. In his last outing, he was called into emergency action about 20 minutes before first pitch in place of Fitzgerald and tossed five innings of shutout baseball. Hearne is ninth in the ACC in ERA (1.96) in league games and also averages a remarkably few 1.24 walks per nine innings overall.
Sunday is TBA on the side of the Irish while Maryland will send out LHP Jake Drossner (4-1, 2.28 ERA).
Both teams enter the weekend looking to snap out of recent funks. The Terps were swept last weekend by ACC foe Boston College, while the Irish have lost four of their last five outings against non-conference foes including a 6-4 10-inning setback against Western Michigan at Four Winds Field Wednesday evening.
Already down one starter for the year in shortstop Lane Richards (right elbow), the Irish lost another starter Wednesday night as centerfielder Mac Hudgins (shoulder) is out for the remainder of the season after landing awkwardly diving for a fly ball.
Before his injury, Hudgins had been making a late-season push for all-ACC accolades as he was among the league leaders during conference games in average (3rd - .339), triples (T-4th - 2) and on-base percentage (6th - .451).
Richards, meanwhile, had started every game of his Notre Dame career (94 of 94) before being sidelined. This season he was hitting a career-best .254 with eight doubles, 12 RBI and 11 runs scored.
Several Irish have stepped up since Richards went out of the lineup as four players are batting over .320 in eight games. Rounding back into form recently has been junior Robert Youngdahl (.346 avg., 2 2B, 1 3B, .500 SLG%) and freshman Cavan Biggio (.321 avg., 2 2B, .400 OB%), who both opened their Irish careers with impressive on-base streaks. In addition, freshman Kyle Fiala has splits of .389 (AVG) / ,556 (SLG%) / .450 (OB%) and has clocked three doubles and plated four runs. Junior Phil Mosey has been Richards' primary replacement at SS and has performed admirably with a .280 average, two doubles, one triple, two walks and two runs scored.
Leading the Terps at the dish is freshman Brandon Lowe, who has impressive splits of .330 (AVG) / .456 (OB%) / .435 (SLG%) in 35 games. The .456 on-base percentage places him fourth in the league, while his average is eighth.
Fans can follow all three games through WatchND's audio broadcast (WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend) as well as live stats. Sunday's contest will be video streamed on Terps TV for a fee of $9.95. Links for all three can be found on UND.com.
--Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director