May 12, 2014
Eastern Michigan: 17-33, 4-20 MAC (26-28, 12-15 MAC In 2013)
Projected Pitching Matchups:
Notre Dame leads Eastern Michigan, 3-2
First Meeting: W, home, 6-1 (4/20/1992)
Last Meeting: L, home, 12-6 (5/1/2013)
Aoki vs. Eastern Michigan: 1-1 (all at Notre Dame)
Weather Report (as of Monday, May 12):
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Just two days after putting the finishing touches on a thrilling home series win over then-No. 22 Clemson, the University of Notre Dame baseball team hits the road for the final time in 2014 as the Irish close out the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 6 p.m. Tuesday game at Eastern Michigan.
The Irish (19-31) enter Tuesday's matchup with the Eagles after the best weekend of their season where they knocked off the ranked Tigers twice - including an impressive 11-3 victory Sunday - to claim their second Atlantic Coast Conference series win of the season in addition to winning the first series played on the new state-of-the-art FieldTurf that was installed recently on Jake Kline Field at Frank Eck Stadium.
Notre Dame made the most of its first true home series of the season as the Irish earned a gritty 2-1 victory Friday night before bouncing back from their seventh shutout of the season (8-0) Saturday to blast Clemson Sunday. The highlight of the 11-3 offensive showcase was a four-run fifth inning where juniors Phil Mosey and Robert Youngdahl and freshman Cavan Biggioall cracked homers.
For Youngdahl, Sunday (4-for-5, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) put the finishing touches on an impressive turnaround last half of the season for the transfer from New Brighton, Minn. After starting off his Irish career with 10 hits in his first seven games (.370 avg.), Youngdahl went into a tough slump that saw his average dip to .169 over the next 18 contests. However, since April 4 (23 games) he has hit .288 with seven doubles and three triples (.488 SLG%) to up his average to .227. Youngdahl is tied for third in the ACC with four triples on the year.
Biggio has also shown great improvement as of late. After hitting a season- low average of .228 on March 30, the Houston, Texas native is batting .283 with 15 hits, five doubles, seven RBI, six walks and three sac flies since. He is still tied for first in the ACC in sac flies for the year with eight.
On the mound, junior Scott Kerriganhas been absolutely splendid since his reemergence in the lineup (March 22) as he sports a 1.03 ERA (3-0) in a team-best 52.2 innings of work. During that span, the Saugus, Calif., native has allowed just six earned runs and is holding opposing bats to just a .198 average. Kerrigan's season has put him in elite company among some dominating ACC arms as he is fifth in the league in ERA (1.77).
His teammate Ryan Smoyer, who is getting the starting nod Tuesday night, has also shown much improvement as the season has gone along. Since getting his first action on March 30 in several weeks, the Bowling Green, Ohio native has turned in a 0.84 ERA in 10.2 innings of work. He has allowed just one run and six hits while striking out eight. He has also held opposing batters to a .162 ERA.
The opposing starter Tuesday night for the Eagles is expected to be RHP Zane Birchler. Birchler has not had a great year as he has an 8.59 ERA in 10 appearances. The senior has allowed 14 runs on 18 hits while opponents are hitting .295 against him.
Eastern Michigan (17-33) is coming off a three-game sweep at Central Michigan where it scored just one run each in the final two games. While the Eagles haven't had the year they expected, they do boast wins over then-No. 13 Clemson at Doug Kingsmore Stadium to open the year in addition to victories against Michigan and Northwestern from the Big Ten.
Notre Dame is looking to improve its record against teams from the state of Michigan this season to 2-3 after Central Michigan and Western Michigan upset the Irish in the last couple of weeks.
All-time, the Irish lead the Eagles, 3-2, but did lose 12-6 last year at home.
Fans can follow Tuesday's road finale through WatchND's audio broadcast (WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend) or by way of Eastern Michigan's live stats. Links for both are on UND.com.
--Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director