April 23, 2015
ACC Weekend #8: Wake Forest
April 24-26, 2015
6 p.m. / 4 p.m. / 12:30 p.m. (All ET)
Wake Forest Baseball Park (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
Notre Dame: 27-13, 11-10 ACC (22-31, 9-21 ACC In 2014)
2014 Postseason: Did not qualify for postseason
Wake Forest: 23-19, 9-12 ACC (30-26, 15-15 ACC In 2014)
2014 Postseason: 0-1 at ACC Tournament
Notre Dame: No. 26 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Top 30
Projected Pitching Matchups:
G1: RHP Ryan Smoyer (6-0, 2.11 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Pirro (6-2, 3.75 ERA)
G2: RHP Brandon Bielak (4-1, 3.34 ERA) vs. RHP Will Craig (1-3, 7.07 ERA)
G3: RHP Nick McCarty (5-3, 2.78 ERA) vs. RHP Connor Johnstone (2-3, 7.40 ERA)
Notre Dame trails 2-7
First Meeting: L, H, 4-1 (6/17/1949)
Last Meeting: L, H, 7-5 (3/30/2014)
Aoki vs. Wake Forest: 9-7 (0-1 at Columbia, 9-3 at BC, 0-3 at ND)
Game Coverage:Live Video: ESPN3 – Saturday / Sunday (Links on UND.com)
Wake Forest All-Access ($) – Friday (Links on UND.com)
Live Audio: WatchND (Links on UND.com) & WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend (Chuck Freeby, pbp)
Live Stats: UND.com
Twitter Reports: @NDBaseball / @NDsidRuss
Weather Report (as of Thursday, April 23):
Friday, April 24: 68 Degrees and Sunny
Saturday, April 25: 60 Degrees / 90% Chance of Rain
Sunday, April 26: 73 Degrees / 70% Chance of Rain
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Another week bring another tough Atlantic Coast Conference challenge for the University of Notre Dame baseball team, as the red-hot Irish make their first trip to Winston-Salem, North Carolina as ACC members for a three-game set with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
Game times are set for 6 p.m. (ET) Friday, 4 p.m. (ET) Saturday and 12:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday. The final two games of the series will be shown live on ESPN3, while Friday’s contest will be shown through a paid video stream through Wake Forest’s website. WatchND and WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend will have the audio call of all three games. Links for both video and audio are on UND.com.
Notre Dame (27-13, 11-10 ACC) has won eight of its last nine conference games — including sweeps of Pitt and then-No. 7 Florida State — to move from last place in the Atlantic Division barely a month ago to fourth place in the division and fifth overall in the sprint towards May’s 10-team ACC Tournment.
The Irish sit just a game back in the loss column to Clemson in the Atlantic Division, but own a series win over the Tigers from back in mid-March.
Last weekend, the Irish received seven shutout innings from sophomore Ryan Smoyer Friday night to shut out NC State, 2-0, before splitting a Saturday doubleheader, 4-2 (14 innings) and 7-2, to earn the series win.
During this successful nine-game stretch, the Irish are batting .248 as a team with a 1.57 team ERA and a .992 team fielding percentage. Comparatively, in the first 12 games of the ACC season, Notre Dame hit .213, sported a 4.15 team ERA and had a .983 fielding percentage.
There are plenty of success stories to account for the dramatic improvement, but probably none more so than Smoyer and sophomore catcher Ryan Lidge.
After a rough start to the season, Smoyer appeared in only 0.2 innings of the first 12 ACC games, claiming a bloated 13.50 ERA. However, it has been the exact opposite in the last nine games, as the Bowling Green, Ohio native has a 3-0 record with a sterling 0.98 ERA in 18.1 innings of work. He has 11 strikeouts and just three walks during that time period.
Meanwhile, Lidge was last among regular Irish starters in batting average in the first 12 ACC games, hitting .156 to go along with a .244 slugging percentage and a .250 on-base percentage. Since then, he has been on a tear, posting a slash line of .423/.538/.571, which are all tops among Notre Dame regulars. He has nine RBI and seven walks during the winning stretch.
Freshman Saturday starter Brandon Bielak has also been more than impressive as of late, as he has a 2-0 record and 1.29 ERA in his last three appearances, which were all quality starts.
At the back of the bullpen, freshman Sean Guenther has been lights out, boasting a perfect 0.00 ERA with four saves in his last five ACC appearances (9.1 IP). During that stretch he has 13 strikeouts, no hits allowed and just one walk.
This weekend, Notre Dame is expected to send Smoyer, Bielak and junior RHP Nick McCarty to the mound. McCarty (5-3) claims a 2.78 ERA, which puts him 14th in the ACC in the category. He also has a team-high six quality starts.
Wake Forest (23-19, 9-12 ACC) is last in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, but is just a couple of games behind third place Clemson (22-19, 11-9 ACC). The Deacs have claimed series over Virginia Tech (2-1), Clemson (2-1) and Boston College (2-1), but lost series to Florida State (1-2), Miami (1-2), Pitt (1-2) and Louisville (0-3).
The Demon Deacons bring an impressive offense to the series, leading the ACC in average (.303), slugging percentage (.466), hits (448), doubles (102) and homers (44).
Standout two-way player Will Craig leads the conference in a myriad of categories, including average (.401), slugging percentage (.763), total bases (116), RBI (54), doubles (17) and homers (12). He is also near the top of the league in hits (61), runs (46) and on-base percentage (.508).
Meanwhile, teammate Nate Mondou is first in the league in hits (65) and runs scored (46).
On the other end of the spectrum, Wake is last in the league in team ERA (5.71), as opponents are hitting a league-best .282 off Demon Deacon pitching. Wake Forest has given up 234 earned runs this year. As a comparison, Notre Dame pitching, which is second in the league in ERA (2.75), has allowed 114 earned runs in 2015 — a 120 run difference.
The Demon Deacons are expected to send RHP Matt Pirro (6-2, 3.75), Craig (1-3, 7.07 ERA) and RHP Connor Johnstone (2-3, 7.40 ERA) to the bump this weekend.
Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki was 9-3 against Wake at Boston College. Last year, the Deacs swept Notre Dame at Four Winds Field, 1-0, 10-2 and 7-5.
So far this year, the Irish have swept Florida State — after getting swept in 2014 — and taken two of three from NC State — after getting swept a year ago. Notre Dame has won series in both years against Clemson and Pitt.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director