Oct. 10, 2007
The Notre Dame baseball team will hold its annual Blue-Gold intrasquad series next week at Eck Stadium, with the seven-inning games to be played on Tuesday, Oct. 16 (4:30 p.m.), Wednesday, Oct. 17 (4:30) and Thursday, Oct. 18 (4:30). Each game is open to the public and free-of-charge.
Members of the coaching staff will square off as bench managers of their respective teams. Pitching coach Sherard Clinkscales will coach the Gold team while volunteer assistant Graham Sikes will be the Blue team's skipper. Notre Dame head coach Schrage and assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Scott Lawler will join the fans in the stands while serving as "general managers" for the teams (each also will take part in the live-audio internet broadcasts of the game, available for free and to be linked via und.com).
The games again will include the added feature of guest coaches in the form of local media members, with the full lineup of guest coaches to be announced later this week. The starting pitching rotations for the Blue and Gold squads also still are TBA, due to the rain that canceled today's simulated game.
With four two-way players among his 19-player roster, Clinkscales will have 14 position players at his disposal for the Gold team, with those players including two returning starters from the 2007 Irish squad: senior leftfielder Ross Brezovsky and junior DH Ryan Connolly. The other five veteran position players on the Gold team include senior catcher Chris Soriano, sophomore outfielders Billy Boockford and David Mills, and sophomore infielders Will Harford and Herman Petzold. Soriano ('06-'07), Harford ('07) and Petzold ('07) each have earned spots on previous Irish teams through the walk-on process while Boockford (RHP) and Mills (LHP) could see time as relief pitchers during the upcoming Blue-Gold Series.
The Gold team's position players also include four top recruits from the freshman class - infielder Mick Doyle, first baseman David Casey and the catcher duo of Matt Scioscia and Matt Katich - plus sophomore transfer Matt Grosso and a pair of walk-on candidates (freshman 1B Joe Spizzirri and sophomore OF Bill Warrender). Grosso is a promising outfield addition who likely will serve as a DH in the series (due to a minor injury). He has four years of college eligibility remaining, after being a member of the baseball teams at Connecticut (fall '06) and Maine (spring '07) last season. Casey Spizzirri also could be used as a lefthanded relief pitchers during next week's games.
Clinkscales likely will be looking to capitalize on a strong pitching staff that includes the two-way relievers mentioned above, plus the 2007 team's ace (RHP David Phelps), two other top members of the junior class - RHP Kyle Weiland (the Gold's probable closer) and LHP Sam Elam - and the freshman RHP tandem of Brian Dupra and Ryan Sharpley.
Sikes has more veteran experience among his position players on the Blue team, led by five who have been starters during their Irish career: fifth-year catcher/DH Sean Gaston, senior shortstop Brett Lilley, junior second baseman Jeremy Barnes, sophomore A.J. Pollock (who could play third base or center field) and sophomore outfielder Brayden Ashdown. Other veterans players in the field for the Blue will include junior corner infielder Eddy Mendiola and sophomore second baseman Ryne Intlekofer. The Blue's freshman position players are led by 1B/OF Ty Adams, catcher Cameron McConnell and shortstop Greg Sherry, with freshman outfielder Bill Wiand a walk-on candidate for the 2008 roster.
The Blue's eight-member pitching staff will be looking for a strong start from senior lefthander Wade Korpi, with the team's other veterans arms including (each RHPs) senior Tony Langford and the sophomore duo of Steven Mazur and Andrew Scheid. The Blue's staff is rounded out by three freshman righthanders - Evan Danieli, Todd Miller and Cole Johnson - plus senior RHP Justin Gingerich, a walk-on candidate and former pitcher at nearby Bethel College.
Four Notre Dame players will be looking to be part of a winning Blue-Gold Series team for the third times in their careers: Gaston ('03 and '05 Blue), Langford ('04 and '06 Gold), and Brezovsky and Korpi (both '04 Gold and '05 Blue).
Rules and procedures for the Blue-Gold Series will be included later in the week (with the announcement of the starting rotations and media coaches).
Notre Dame's three players who are current members of the Irish football team - junior 1B Evan Sharpley, sophomore RHP Eric Maust and freshman CF Golden Tate - will not play in the Blue-Gold Series due to their football commitments. Junior RHP Brett Graffy and sophomore OF Michael Wright also will not play, due to injuries.
Gaston owns a .333 career batting average in the series (11-for-33, 6 RBI, 8 R, 3B, 3 2B, 3 BB, K, SB in 10 GP) while Brezovsky has hit at a .286 clip in the BGS (6-for-21, 6 RBI, 3 R, 3 2B, 3 BB, 2 SB, 4 Ks, E, 7 GP) and Lilley missed the 2005 series due to injury (his combined Blue-Gold stats from the '04 game and '06 series are .125/2-for-16, R, 2 SB, 2 Ks, 4 GP). Soriano played in one game of the 2006 Blue-Gold Series (0-for-3) while Langford has logged a pair of relief outings in previous BGS action (6.75 ERA, 1-1 record, 4 IP, 5 R/3 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 4 Ks; '04 and '05), in addition to hitting a combined 10-for-23 (.435) in the 2004-06 Blue-Gold Series (3 RBI, BB, SB, 2 Ks). Langford was the Gold's winning pitcher in the 2004 intrasquad game, despite allowing three runs in 3.0 innings (3 H, BB, 4 Ks). He then took the loss for the Gold in game-2 of the '05 series (1.0 IP, 2 UER, H, BB) and did not pitch in the 2006 BGS (while still rehabbing from elbow surgery).
Korpi's career stats in the series (6.55, 1-0, 3 GS, 11 IP, 12 R/8 ER, 15 H, 4 BB, 7 Ks) include being the Gold's game-1 starter in 2004 (2.1 IP, 5 R/2 ER, 5 H, BB, K) before starting game-2 for the Blue in 2005 (3.2 IP, 4 R, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 Ks) and then winning game-2 for the Blue in 2006 (5 IP, 3 R/2 ER, 5 H, BB, K).
Barnes played sparingly in the 2006 BGS due to a minor injury (0-for-2, R, BB, HBP, 2 GP) but was the top all-around player during the 2005 series, when he hit 3-for-7 (RBI, 5 RBI, 2 R, 2 2B, 3 BB) while making no errors at second base and logging two shutout, no-hit appearances on the mound (3.2 IP, BB, 3 Ks). Connelly was able to play in the Blue-Gold Series during each of his first two seasons with the Irish (1-for-11, RBI, 2 R, 3 BB, 5 Ks, SB).
Elam's three career appearances in the series include a pair of tough losses (8.10, 6.2 IP, 9 H, 7 BB, 2 Ks). He registered two relief decisions (1-1) during the 2005 BGS, as the Blue's hard-luck loser in game-1 (1.2 IP, H) before coming back to win game-3 (2.0 IP, 3 R, 5 H3 BB). Elam then was a member of the victorious Gold in the 2006 BGS, despite losing game-2 when a throwing error brought home the winning run (3 IP, 4 R/3 ER, 3 H, 4 BB, 2 Ks).
Mendiola is a veteran of two Blue Gold Series (.214/3-for-14, 2 R, BB, HBP, 3 Ks, 2 SAC, 2 Es) while Phelps has drawn a no-decisions as the game-1 starter in both 2005 and '06. Phelps started for the Blue in 2005 (3.1 IP, 6 R/5 ER, 5 H, 4 B, 2 Ks) and then had a better outing as the first starter for the Gold in 2006 (5 IP, R, 3 H, BB, HB, 5 Ks).
Weiland impressively has totaled 10 strikeouts and walked only one batter in three career appearances during the Blue-Gold Series (4.50, 0-0, SV, 8 IP, 4 R, 8 H, 1 GS). He was the Gold's game-2 starter in the 2005 series, earning no-decision (5 IP, 4 R, 5 H, BB, 4 Ks), before helping the Gold win in 2006. Weiland struck out the side to save game-1 of the 2006 BGS (2-1) before closing the game-3 win (2 IP, 3 H, 4 Ks; 8-3).
The sophomores in the 2007 Blue-Gold Series who played in the 2006 BGS (won by the Gold) include: Ashdown (0-for-7, SAC, 4 Ks, E; Blue), Boockford (1-for-10, 2 Ks; Blue), Harford (0-for-4, R, K; Blue), Intlekofer (3-for-10, 3 R, 2 Ks, 2 E; gold), Mazur (0.00, 1-0, 4 IP, 3 H, 5 Ks, 2 GP; Gold), Mills (3-for-8, RBI, 3 R, 2 BB, 2-3 SB, 3 Ks, 2 E; Blue), Petzold (1-for-3, K, E; blue), Pollock (5-for-9, 5 RBI, 3 R, HR, 2B, SAC, 2 SB, K; gold/tournament MVP) and Scheid (2 IP, 3 R, 5 H, BB, 2 Ks; gold).
Pollock's MVP performance led the Gold to the series victory in the fall of 2006 (2-1, 3-4, 8-3). Graffy picked up the clinching win in game-3 (5 IP, 3 R/1 ER, H, 3 BB, 6 Ks) while Langford (go-ahead single in 6th) and Weiland (save) were the Gold's heroes in the earlier game-1. Korpi had rebounded from a rocky start to win game-2 for the Blue, which battled back from an early 3-0 deficit (Mills had an RBI single and scored twice to spark the rally).
Despite only outscoring the Blue by five runs, the Gold compiled a clear statistical advantage in the series. The Gold hitters combined to bat .321 with the 13 runs scored, five extra-base hits (2 HR, 3B, 2 2B), a pair of walks, a hit batter, two sac. bunts and 6-of-6 on stolen bases (also .444 team slugging, .345 team on-base and one time grounded into a double play). The Gold pitchers combined for a 2.25 ERA, allowing only 12 hits in 20 innings (.174 opp. batting) with better than a 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (25/8, plus a pair of hit batters and one wild pitch). The Gold positions players compiled a .954 fielding pct. in the series, with four errors.
The Blue team batted .174 in the 2006 series and scored eight runs, with only three coming via RBI (the Gold had RBI on 12 of its 13 runs). The Blue offense also had a pair of doubles and eight walks (2 HBP, 2 SAC, 2 SB, 2 GDP, .203 slug, .278 OB). The Blue pitchers combined for a 5.21 ERA and an impressive 8.5 K-to-walk ratio (17/2) in 19 innings of work (26 H/.321, WP, HB). Six errors produced a .931 series fielding pct. for the Blue.
In addition to Pollock, Langford and Intlekofer (stats listed above), other top hitters for the Gold in the 2006 BGS included Wright (4-for-8, RBI, SB), rightfielder and '07 grad Danny Dressman (4-for-10, 2 RBI, 4 R, 3B, 2B, SB) and freshman second baseman Ryne Intlekoker (3-for-10, 3 R, 2 Ks). Mills was the top hitter for the Blue in the 2006 series.
The Blue won the 2005 intrasquad series (7-6, 6-4, 3-6), led by the hitting of Brezovsky (4-for-9, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2B, BB, SAC, 2 SB), Gaston (4-for-11, 4 RBI, 2 R, 2B) and 2006 alums Matt Bransfield (2-for-5, RBI, 4 R, 3 BB, 2 HBP, SF, SB) and Alex Nettey (4-for-11, RBI, 3 R, 2B). Top hitters for the Gold in the 2005 series included Dressman (4-for-7, 2 RBI, R, 2 BB), former RF/C Cody Rizzo (4-for-10, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 2B) and Barnes (3-for-7, RBI, 2 R, 3 BB).
The 2004 Blue-Gold Series was shortened to one game, with Brezovsky providing the key two-run double in the 8th inning of the Gold's 10-9 win. Former catcher Javi Sanchez (4-for-9, 5 RBI, 3B, 2B) helped the Blue win the 2003 intrasquad series (9-7, 13-10, 1-5) - despite a strong showing from Gold players Bransfield (10 times on-base, 4-for-7, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 6 RBI, 4 R, 2 2B, SB, SF) and Dressman (4-for-11, 5 R, RBI, 2 2B, 3 BB, 2 SB). Bransfield and Rizzo led the victorious Gold in the fall of 2002 (9-1, 7-6, 1-6), with their classmates Nettey (4-for-9, RBI, 2B), Craig Cooper (4-for-10, 2 RBI, 3 R, 3B, BB, SB) and Steve Andres (4-for-10, 3 RBI, R, SB) having strong showings for the Blue in the '02 series.
The most noteworthy Blue-Gold series of the current decade took place in the fall of 2001, featuring a first look at the nation's top-ranked freshman class (a group that included the likes of Chris Niesel, Matt Macri, Grant Johnson and John Axford). The young Gold team won the first (7-4) and third (3-2) games in the 2001 series while the Blue dominated game-2 (19-8). Second baseman Steve Sollmann paced the Blue by hitting 8-for-13 (HR, 3B, 3 2B) while Niesel (R, 3H, 5 Ks) and Axford (5 H, BB, 5 Ks) picked up wins for the Gold in their max. 5-inning stints. Macri batted 5-for-11 as the Gold's starting shortstop, with a triple and linedrive home run in the decisive third game. Macri also closed the 7th inning to save that game, striking out Sollmann and inducing a groundout from Paul O'Toole for the dramatic ending.
Niesel later added an opening win for the Gold in the 2002 series (5 IP, R, 3 H, 7 Ks) while the pitching stars in 2003 included LHP Joe Thaman, a converted first baseman who won game-1 for the Blue (4 IP, 5 H, 3 Ks).
Here are the rosters for the 2007 Blue-Gold Series:
BLUE TEAM (manager: Graham Sikes)
GOLD TEAM (manager: Sherard Clinkscales