May 6, 2010
Game-2, Saturday (tba)
Game-3, Sunday (1:00 p.m.)
Live Game Coverage
Sunday, May 9
For complete notes, see the PDF listed above.
IN THE BATTERS BOX -- Notre Dame returns to BIG EAST action at West Virginia in a three-game series that opens with a doubleheader at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday at Hawley Field. The series concludes at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Live stats, live blogs and recaps of each game will be available on UND.com.
SCOUTING THE MOUNTAINEERS -- West Virginia enters the series with an 18-26 record overall and 3-15 mark in the conference (the Mountaineers have dropped nine straight BIG EAST contests). Head coach Greg Van Zant is in his 16th season with the Mountaineers and ranks second in school history with 468 career victories.
WEST VIRGINIA INSIDER -- The Mountaineers have lost nine of their last 11 and 15 of 20 entering the series with the Irish. West Virginia's lone victories include a 20-9 victory over Maryland on April 7, a 10-8 triumph in the series finale at St. John's on April 11, a 13-11 win over Eastern Kentucky on April 13 and a pair of routs (23-6, 16-6) over Duquesne on April 21 and April 27. The Mountaineers opened the BIG EAST season with a series victory at Seton Hall, taking two of three after dropping series opener. West Virginia has lost 14 of 15 in the league since. In fact, the Mountaineers have been swept in each of their last three BIG EAST series (Louisville, Pitt and at Cincinnati).
NOTRE DAME-WEST VIRGINIA SERIES NOTES -- Notre Dame has won 14 of its last 18 meetings with West Virginia (since 2003) and owns a 38-17 all-time series edge (29-14 since both teams joined the BIG EAST in 1996).
TALE OF THE TAPE (2010 STATS)
Notre Dame West Virginia Batting Average .282 .301 Runs Per Game 5.82 6.48 Home Runs 29 39 Slugging Percentage .402 .448 Batters' BB+HBP-SO Margin -79 -86 On-Base Percentage .356 .371 Stolen Bases 27-37 27-34 Team ERA 5.35 7.11 Opponent Batting Average .293 .322 Pitchers' SO-BB Ratio 1.76 1.31 Pitchers' SO Per 9 Innings 6.36 6.88 Pitchers' BB Per 9 Innings 3.62 5.27 Fielding Pct. (Errors) .963 (64) .965 (58) Double Plays Turned 36 40 Record at Home 8-10 9-13 Record on Road (including neutral) 12-14 9-13 Record in One-Run Games 5-4 0-4 Record in Extra Innings 2-1 0-1
LINEUP IN PEN, NOT PENCIL -- Notre Dame used the lineup of Ryan Connolly (LF), Frank Desico (2B), David Mills (DH), Casey Martin (1B), Brayden Ashdown (CF), Billy Boockford (RF), Mick Doyle (SS), Cameron McConnell (C) and Greg Sherry (3B) on May 2. It marked the fifth time in the past six games that the Irish used that same lineup. Notre Dame had used 30 different lineups over the first 38 games of the season.
NOTRE DAME SACRIFICES -- The Irish have registered 27 sacrifice flies this season, which leads the BIG EAST. Notre Dame's school record is 41 set during the in 2002 campaign.
IRISH DEFENSE FINALLY SETTLED DOWN -- Notre Dame committed 58 errors over its first 33 games, including 15 games with at least two miscues. The Irish were on pace to record 98 errors in the regular season, which would have been the most since 2002 (mind you, the 2002 team advanced to the CWS and played 68 games). Notre Dame's fielding percentage was .956, which would have been the worst since 1997. But, Notre Dame went error-free once again on April 30, the fifth time in the previous six games and seventh time in the previous nine games the Irish have not committed a miscue. Over the last 12 games, Notre Dame's fielding percentage is .986 and the Irish have only six errors.
WALK THIS WAY -- Notre Dame's hitters have now drawn at least one walk in 35 consecutive games, the longest Irish streak since a 60-game stretch from June 3, 2005 through May 20, 2006.
IRISH FINALLY SURRENDER ROUND TRIPPER -- St. John's Paul Karmas drilled a solo home run in the fifth inning on April 30 which ended Notre Dame's streak of not allowing a long ball at 12+ games and 487 batters. The stretch was the longest since the 2006 Irish squad went 24 consecutive contests without surrendering a circuit clout. u The home run also ended the scoreless streak by Notre Dame's starting pitchers at 15.0 innings, as junior Brian Dupra had worked 4.1 shutout frames, allowing just two base runners, up to that point.
PRETTY IMPRESSIVE REBOUND -- Notre Dame surrendered 25 runs on 27 hits in a loss to Rutgers on April 10. The Irish had never yielded as many runs or lost by as a large a margin in Eck Stadium history. In fact, the 25 runs and 20-run margin were also highs in Notre Dame BIG EAST history. However, the Irish won nine of their next 13 and six of seven in the BIG EAST. The team ERA over those 13 games was 3.33. Notre Dame also put together three straight victories by at least seven runs (outscoring the opposition 31-6), the first time the Irish have accomplished that feat since April 14-17, 2004, when the Irish defeated Oakland, 17-5, and Georgetown, 18-7 and 11-4. u Notre Dame's team ERA following the defeat was 6.18. The Irish have since posted a 3.81 ERA over the ensuing 15 games.
BULLPEN CARRIES THE IRISH TO PERFECT WEEK -- Notre Dame's depth of pitching, especially in the bullpen has been challenged in 2010 due in part to a number of injuries to key contributors, but sophomore Will Hudgins, senior David Mills, sophomore Joe Spano and senior Steven Mazur have carried the load and the quartet was instrumental in the perfect 4-0 mark and series sweep at Seton Hall over the week of April 11-18. Hudgins, Mills, Spano and Mazur tossed 9.2 scoreless innings of relief in the series against the Pirates. They combined to punch out 11 Seton Hall batters and walked only three. The Pirates managed just five hits and batted only .147 against them all weekend. u Michigan's Coley Crank registered an RBI double in the second inning that ended the Notre Dame bullpen's scoreless streak at 17.1 innings. The pen combined to strike out 18 over that stretch (covering the last six games) while walking six and allowing just nine hits (.153 opponents' batting average).
TWIN KILLINGS -- Notre Dame registered four double plays in the victory over Chicago State on April 13. The four double plays were the most for the Irish since they turned four last season against Western Michigan; the feat is so rare, however, that it has now been accomplished by a Notre Dame team just four times in the last 12 seasons. Notre Dame posted three in the series finale at Seton Hall and added three more in the midweek series against Michigan. The Irish registered just 17 double plays over their first 26 games, but have turned 19 in their last 18 outings.
IF ONLY AN INNING ENDED WITH TWO OUTS -- Notre Dame has been victimized with two outs the entire season. Irish opponents are hitting .318 (167-for-525) with two outs and have registered 123 two-out RBI this season, which is almost three per game. Notre Dame has a mere 80 two-out RBI and hitting only .268. u Rutgers plated an amazing 18 runs with two outs in the 25-5 victory over the Irish on April 10. Michigan added all 13 of its runs with two down in a 13-1 triumph over Notre Dame on April 21. u The third out of an inning continues to elude sophomore Irish starter Steve Sabatino, who gave up four unearned runs against Michigan on April 21 in the first inning, all of which came with two outs. Opponents are batting .372 (29-for-78) this season against the lefty with two outs. Of the 52 runs Sabatino has surrendered this season, 34 have crossed the plate with two outs, including 13 of the 18 unearned runs charged against the hurler.
NOT SO RUN OF THE MILLS -- Senior designated hitter/pitcher David Mills did it all for Notre Dame over the week of April 11-18 as the Irish went 4-0, including a three-game series sweep at Seton Hall. Notre Dame had not swept the Pirates in South Orange since 2002. In fact, Seton Hall had not been swept in a BIG EAST series at home by anyone since April of 2007. Mills not only registered two saves, pitched in all four games, but did not allow a run in 5.0 scoreless innings of relief. He also batted .444 (8-for-18) for the week with four runs scored and two RBI. In fact, both RBI came with two outs, including his game-winning RBI single in the top of the ninth inning in Sunday's series finale with the Pirates to secure the sweep. In the sweep of Seton Hall, Mills hit .500 and tossed 4.2 scoreless innings of relief with a save. Despite his prowess at the plate, Mills most critical service came on the mound. With the Irish clinging to a two-run lead over Chicago State and the tying run at the plate, the southpaw came on and retired the only batter he faced to record his first save of the season. Then, in the series opener at Seton Hall, Mills not only tossed 1.2 innings of scoreless relief to keep the game tied, 5-5, but went 3-for-5 and scored the game-winning run. The senior then went 1-for-4 with an RBI single in the 2-1 victory over the Pirates on Saturday. In the victory, Mills also registered his second save of the week. He came on with two on, two out and the tying run in scoring position, but fanned Ryan Sullivan to end the eighth. Mills then retired Seton Hall 1-2-3 in the ninth. He still managed to overshadow those performances in the series finale with the Pirates. Mills went 3-for-5 with the game-winning RBI and two runs scored. He also added 1.2 scoreless innings of relief in his third relief appearance of the weekend. The southpaw struck out two and yielded one hit. u St. John's freshman Jeremy Baltz's fifth-inning home run on May 2 snapped Mills' scoreless streak from the mound at 11.0 innings; Mills had last yielded a run against Rutgers on April 9. He continued to make his opponents earn every base, however, as he did not issue a base on balls, extending his streak of not allowing a walk to 12 appearances, 18.1 innings and 71 batters faced. Mills last walked a batter in the first game of the doubleheader with USF on March 27. His career average of 1.80 walks per nine innings ranks fourth in Notre Dame history). u Mills' 2010 season average stands at 1.01 walks per nine innings, which would rank third in Notre Dame single-season history (30.0 innings needed to qualify; Mills currently has 26.2).
DeSICO, MARTIN AND CONNOLLY LOVE SOUTHPAWS -- Senior first baseman Casey Martin, senior left fielder Ryan Connolly and freshman second baseman Frank Desico continue to feast on left-handed pitching. The trio has combined to hit .462 (55-for-119) on the season against southpaws. Martin leads the threesome with a .528 (19-for-36) batting average, while DeSico and Connolly are batting .439 (18-for-41) and .429 (18-for-42), respectively.
BLISTERING HOT -- Senior left fielder Ryan Connolly had 12 hits and 21 total bases in a 17 at bat span from April 24-28, good for a .706 batting average and a 1.235 slugging clip; the stretch raised his season average from .333 to .377. u Connolly doubled in the first inning against Toledo on April 27, giving him six hits in his last six at bats, and walked in the second (scoring both times) to extend his streak of consecutive plate appearances reaching base to seven. The last Irish player to have a 6-for-6 stretch was Danny Dressman on March 12 and 14 of 2007 (against Webber International and Dayton); Dressman also mixed in a pair of walks to reach base in eight straight plate appearances. A.J. Pollock also reached base in eight consecutive plate appearances in 2007 (April 21 and 22 versus West Virginia), collecting five hits and three walks. u Connolly missed the entire 2006 season and most of the 2008 year with separate shoulder injuries. He batted just .185 with 29 strikeouts in 81 at bats during the 2007 campaign. Connolly saw action in a reserve roll in 2009, before being inserted into the everyday lineup on May 8 against USF. He smacked his first career home run that night and proceeded to hit .348 with four home runs and 14 RBI over Notre Dame last 13 games of the year. He has not missed a beat in 2009. In fact, Connolly has 13 home runs and 47 RBI in 57 games since becoming a full-time starter. u Connolly finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored, four RBI, and his eighth home run of the season, a no-doubt three-run shot to put the Irish up 8-0 in the ninth inning against Valparaiso on April 28. The left fielder was named MVP of the Showdown in an on-field ceremony following the game. u Connolly drilled a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning on May 1, his third leadoff home run this season--he also led off with a long ball against Bradley on March 11 and at Georgetown on April 2. Five of Connolly's 13 career home runs have come in his first plate appearance of the game, as he also homered in the second inning on March 8, 2009 against USF (Connolly batted seventh) and in the first inning against Michigan State on March 20 of this season (game two; batted third). The three leadoff homers in one year are the most since Craig Cooper notched four in the 2006 season, doing so at Georgetown (3/26) and at home against Manchester (4/12), St. John's (4/13; game two), and Rutgers (4/23). u With the homer, Connolly reached base to lead off the game for the fifth straight contest, but he did not reach to open the game on May 2. Connolly's on-base percentage in his first plate appearance this season is .581 (25-for-43). The five consecutive games of reaching base in his first trip to the plate ties for Connolly's longest streak of the season, as he also reached in five straight from March 23-27. u Connolly singled, walked and was hit by a pitch in last Sunday's game and has now reached base safely in eight straight games and 55 of his last 56 contests. He has been plunked 17 times on the season, which not only leads the BIG EAST, but ranks 26th in the NCAA. Connolly also stands ninth in Irish single-season history. u Should Connolly hit another home run this season, he would become just the second Irish player to smack at least 10 home runs and be hit by at least 10 pitches in the same season; the only one to do it so far has been Eric Danapilis in 1993 (13 HR, 15 HBP). Connolly was plunked again on Sunday, giving him 17 HBP on the season and sole possession of ninth place in the Irish single-season record books in that category. u When Connolly notched six hits in six consecutive plate appearances against Cincinnati and Toledo earlier this season, he became the first Irish player to accomplish that feat since Matt Macri collected six straight base knocks against Virginia Tech in 2004 (Mar. 21-22). Sean Gaston also picked up six straight hits earlier that season, doing so at the hands of Florida Memorial (Feb. 28) and Minnesota (Feb. 29). Here is the base hit streak breakdown for the three players:
CONNOLLY'S STREAK COMES TO AND END -- Notre Dame senior left fielder Ryan Connolly saw his streak of consecutive games reaching base safely (via base hit, walk, or hit-by-pitch) end at 47 games after an 0-for-3 day against Michigan on April 21. The fifth-year senior had extended the streak in his last plate appearance on five different occasions, but he could not do so against the Wolverines, grounding out in his third and final at bat before being pinch-hit for in the eighth inning. The streak was the second-longest in NCAA Division I baseball this season. Connolly's statistics during the streak.
AVG PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI .347 212 167 43 58 14 2 10 39
SLG BB HBP SO OBP SAC SF .635 20 19 49 .469 3 1
u Connolly reached base in his first plate appearance (excluding sacrifice bunts) an astounding 25 times during the streak, despite being retired in his first trip the plate in each of the last five games. At one point, Connolly reached in his first plate appearance in five straight games, nine times in a 10-game span, 12 times in a 14-game stretch, and 17 times in a 22-game period. u Almost unbelievably, Connolly's longest streak of consecutive plate appearances reaching base safely during the streak was just three, although he did that nine different times.
ASHDOWN GOES DOWNTOWN, TWICE -- Senior outfielder Brayden Ashdown notched the first multi-home run game of his career on April 30 against St. John's. It was the first by a Notre Dame player since A.J. Pollock smacked two on May 16, 2009, also against St. John's; in fact, the last three two-HR games by Irish players have all come against the Red Storm, as Ryan Connolly also took St. John's deep twice on May 14 of last season. Ashdown becomes the seventh Irish player in the Dave Schrage era to homer twice in a game, joining Mike Dury (3.14.07), Casey Martin (3.21.08), Evan Sharpley (3.22.08), Jeremy Barnes (5.3.08), Connolly and Pollock.
DOYLE SNAPS STREAK -- Junior shortstop Mick Doyle ended an 0-for-20 slump last Saturday with a fifth-inning double and proceeded to double twice more in last Sunday's game; he and senior Brayden Ashdown have each seen their last three hits go for extra bases, as Ashdown doubled in the sixth inning last Sunday after homering twice on Friday night.
MILLS SACRIFICES FOR TEAM -- Senior designated hitter David Mills leads the BIG EAST with seven sacrifice flies and leads the Irish with 10 total sacrifices in 2010. The seven sac flies ranks tied for fifth in Notre Dame single-season history. Mills, who also owns the single-season school record for sacrifice hits with 19 in 2008, has 45 career sacrifices, including 30 career sacrifice hits. He is now tied for third all-time with Steve Stanley (1999-2002) in career sacrifices and fourth in career sacrifice hits.
JOHNSON, MILLER WELCOMED BACK WITH OPEN ARMS -- Juniors Cole Johnson and Todd Miller each missed almost six weeks with respective shoulder injuries. u Johnson, who was Notre Dame's top starter in 2009 with a 7-3 record and all-BIG EAST first team this preseason, was credited with the victory in his return on April 27. He did surrender a leadoff single to open the game, but rebounded with a pair of ground outs and strikeout to strand the leadoff hit at third base. Johnson yielded a leadoff single in the top of the second before recording back-to-back punch outs. He was removed after the second strikeout on a predetermined pinch count. Johnson threw 30 pitches, 20 for strikes, and did not issue a walk. He struck out three. Johnson made another appearance on May 1 against St. John's and yielded two earned runs in 2.2 innings. u Miller, who led the Irish with five saves in 2009, has tossed 3.0 scoreless innings in two appearances since returning on April 28. He worked 2.0 scoreless against Valparaiso on April 28 and 1.0 scoreless against St. John's on May 1.
TOUGH LUCK MAUST KEEPS IT IN THE PARK -- Senior right-handed pitcher Eric Maust took the loss in last Sunday's game against St. John's and still has not won since his final start of 2009 (6-5 win over Louisville in the BIG EAST Tournament on May 23), although he has been victimized by a pair of blown saves (Rutgers on April 11 and the second game against Cincinnati on April 24). Maust did extend his streak of not allowing a home run to 53.1 innings and 247 batters faced, now the longest stretch of his career; he began his career by tossing 52.2 innings of homer-free ball, spanning 230 batters and 18 appearances. Maust has now tossed the fifth-most innings (51.0) in a season in Irish history without surrendering a long ball, trailing only Darin Schmalz (84.2 in 1996), Tim Kraus (62.2 in 1994), Tom Thornton (54.2 in 2003) and Peter Ogilvie (52.0 in 2001).
DUPRA DOING MORE -- Junior right-handed hurler Brian Dupra went 8.0 innings and allowed five earned runs en route to a victory in his second consecutive start on April 30. He still has not lost since March 26 against USF, a game in which he yielded just two earned runs in 6.0 innings. Dupra now sports a 2.82 ERA over his last four outings (also one relief appearance); in those games (covering 22.1 innings), Dupra has walked just three batters, lowering his career average to 1.91 walks per nine innings, eighth in ND history and just behind senior southpaw David Mills.
IRISH DEFENSE FAILS SABATINO -- Sophomore southpaw Steve Sabatino fell victim to a pair of unearned runs in the second inning of his start on May 1 and has now given up 18 unearned runs this season, the most for a Notre Dame pitcher since Tom Price yielded 21 in 1994 and tied for the fourth most in Irish single-season history (since earned runs began being tracked in 1957). The only other Irish pitchers to surrender more were Bill Matre (19 in 1983) and Mike Bobinski (19 in 1978).
SPANO FINDING THE GROVE -- Sophomore lefty Joe Spano tossed 3.0 scoreless frames for the second consecutive outing on May 1. He walked 16 batters and struck out 12 in his first 14.1 innings this season, but has walked just one and punched out six in his last two outings or six innings. u Spano also became the eighth Notre Dame pitcher to pick off a runner this season when he nabbed Joe Panik in the seventh inning on May 1. The Irish have not had more pitchers pick off a runner in a season since at least 1996 (when pickoff statistics became available).
MAZUR WIGGLES OUT OF JAM -- When senior Steven Mazur entered with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth and punched out Jeremy Baltz on May 2, it marked just the second time this season that an Irish pitcher has entered the game with the bases loaded and stranded all three runners. The other occasion came against Ball State on March 23, when sophomore Ryan Richter relieved junior Ryan Sharpley with two outs in the third inning and induced a fly out to end the threat.