April 19, 2016

By Russell Dorn

Midweek Game #8: Michigan State
April 19, 2016
3:05 p.m. (All ET)
McLean Baseball Stadium (East Lansing, Michigan)

Team Information:

Notre Dame: 21-12, 9-7 ACC (37-23, 17-13 ACC In 2015)
2015 Postseason: 1-2 @ ACC Tourney & 1-2 @ NCAA Champaign Regional

Michigan State: 25-7, 7-2 Big Ten (34-23, 14-10 Big Ten In 2015)
2015 Postseason: 1-2 in Big Ten Tournament

Rankings: Michigan State: Between #21 & #30 in 3 polls / Notre Dame: #29 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper

Game Coverage (Links on UND.com/NDBaseball):
Live Video: BTN Plus ($)
Live Audio: WatchND & WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend (Chuck Freeby, pbp)
Live Stats: Gametracker
Twitter Reports: @NDBaseball

Projected Pitching Matchup:
G1: ND LHP Michael Hearne (4-0, 2.72 ERA) vs. MSU LHP Keegan Baar (0-0, 3.31 ERA)

Weather Report (as of Tuesday, April 19):
Tuesday, April 19: 61/60 & Cloudy

Series History:
Michigan State leads 54-79
Aoki vs. Michigan State: 1-4 (All @ ND)
First Meeting: 5/7/1907: W, 1-0 – Home

Last Four Meetings:
4/28/2015: L, 9-6 (12 Innings) – Home
4/24/2013: W, 7-3 – Home
4/10/2012: L, 8-2 – Away
5/17/2011: L, 20-3 – Home

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After a spectacular week on the diamond that moved the Irish back into the national rankings at No. 29 and up to No. 41 in the NCAA’s RPI, the University of Notre Dame baseball team carries a five-game winning streak into a 3:05 p.m. (ET) Tuesday midweek at No. 21 Michigan State.

Notre Dame (21-12) and Michigan State (25-7) both have been playing good baseball as of late, as the Irish have won 13 of their last 15 and the Spartans have claimed 11 of their last 15 contests.

The Irish and Spartans haven’t clashed in East Lansing since 2012 (8-2 MSU win). Last year MSU beat the Irish at in 12 innings at Frank Eck Stadium (9-6).

Here’s what you need to know about today’s Michigan State game:

  1. Irish midweek starter Michael Hearne takes the mound Tuesday against the Spartans ââ’¬¦ the Palo Heights, Illinois native has been such a key to the Irish turnaround, as Notre Dame is 7-0 this year when Hearne is the starting pitcher ââ’¬¦ he sits 4-0 on the year after returning from Tommy John surgery in March 2015 and has a solid 2.72 ERA ââ’¬¦ last week against Valparaiso, Hearne hurled his second career complete game, by allowing one run on four hits and no walks while striking out five ââ’¬¦ he had five 1-2-3 innings, retired 13 batters in a row at one point and totaled six innings with nine pitches or less.
  1. Another key to the recent Irish success has been the return of third baseman Kyle Fiala, who is playing at his 2015 level after missing 13 games with an injured hand ââ’¬¦ in six games back, Fiala is batting .450 with nine hits, a double, three RBI, four walks and seven runs scored ââ’¬¦ he sports a .542 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage in those six games.
  1. Senior Ricky Sanchez has been outstanding this season, leading the team in average (.344) and triples (3), while leading the Irish regulars in slugging percentage (.508) ââ’¬¦ the Miami native has started 14 (10-4) games at catcher, eight (7-1) in left field, two (1-1) in right field and six (2-4) at designated hitter this season and has 12 multi-hit games, six multi-RBI contests and had a team season high 13-game hitting streak earlier this season.
  1. Today’s game marks the 11th against a ranked opponent this season ââ’¬¦ the Irish boast midweek wins over No. 17 Michigan and No. 30 Oregon and an Atlantic Coast Conference win over No. 13 NC State and will play at No. 7 Florida State this weekend for a three-game ACC series ââ’¬¦ the Spartans are ranked between No. 21 and No. 30 in three of the six college baseball polls.

For more information on the Notre Dame baseball team, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).

Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning his master’s degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.