Oct. 26, 2001
A challenging schedule awaits the Notre Dame baseball team in 2002, with the 56-game slate to include several games versus teams that competed in the 2001 NCAA Championship-headlined by matchups with Southern California and Arizona State-in addition to games versus some of the top programs in the Midwest and Northeast.
Notre Dame’s home highlights at Eck Stadium will include two-game series versus perennial national power Arizona State (April 26-27) and 2001 NCAA tournament participant Brigham Young (April 1-2), plus five BIG EAST Conference series-most notably an April 12 doubleheader versus Virginia Tech and a May 4-5 three-game series with conference rival Rutgers. The April 27 ND-ASU game will begin at 3:00 p.m., allowing fans to attend following the annual Notre Dame football blue-gold intrasquad scrimmage.
The first month of Notre Dame’s 2002 season will take the Irish to four tournaments-in New Orleans, Homestead, Fla., the Austin suburb of Round Rock, Texas, and San Antonio, Texas-with other noteworthy road games including an April 20-21 BIG EAST series at Seton Hall.
The University of New Orleans will play host to the four-team Ron Maestri/UNO Classic (Feb. 22-24), with each team-UNO, ND, Missouri and Southern Illinois-coached by former members of the UNO baseball program who played for the Hall of Famer Maestri, now the athletic director at UNO (all four teams also played in a similar tournament at UNO in 1999).
The Irish then will participate in the annual Homestead (Fla.) Challenge, with games from March 1-3 versus Duquesne, Fairfield, Florida International and Savannah State (the ND-FIU game will be a rematch of the 2001 NCAA South Bend Regional title game). The 30-day Homestead Challenge (Feb. 22-March 23) is expected to feature some 100 college baseball and softball teams, with games held at the sparkling $22-million Homestead Sprots Complex (located 30 miles south of Miami).
Notre Dame again will spend Spring Break in the state of Texas, with a total of eight games at two different sites. The 10-team Express College Classic will be held March 8-11 at The Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express (the Houston Astros double-A affiliate, owned by Nolan Ryan). The Irish are slated to face Texas Christian, perennial national power USC, Texas Pan-American and Creighton-with the March 9th ND-USC game to feature a pair of freshman classes that have been ranked among the best in the nation.
The Irish wrap up Spring Break by again playing host to the Irish Classic in San Antonio, with games versus Creighton, Southern Illinois and Arkansas-Little Rock (March 13-15), followed by the March 16 first-place and third-place games.
In addition to the games versus Virginia Tech and Rutgers, Notre Dame also will play host to BIG EAST series versus St. John’s (April 6-7), Pittsburgh (April 11) and Boston College (May 17-18).
Notre Dame will play its first three BIG EAST series on the road, with three games at Connecticut (March 23-24) and doubleheaders at West Virginia (March 28) and Georgetown (March 30), plus other BIG EAST series at SHU and Villanova (May 11-12).
The Irish are scheduled to face five Mid-American Conference teams at Eck Stadium, with games versus Western Michigan (April 9), Central Michigan (April 15), Ball State (April 16), Toledo (April 17) and Bowling Green (April 24). ND also will play home games vs. Mid-Continent Conference teams Valparaiso (April 3), Chicago State (April 23) and Oakland (May 1) while facing former Midwestern Collegiate Conference foe Detroit on May 15.
Notre Dame’s non-conference road schedule includes the annual Michigan game (April 30) at Old Kent Park (just outside of Grand Rapids), home of the West Michigan Whitecaps, and a May 14 game at Purdue.
The four-team BIG EAST Tournament (May 23-25) will return to Bridgewater, N.J., and Somerset Ballpark, home of the independent league Somerset Patriots.
NCAA Championship regional action will be held at campus sites on May 31-June 2, followed by the super-regional round (June 7-9, at campus sites) and the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. (June 14-22).
ND HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI ON THE 2002 SCHEDULE
“This certainly will be another challenging schedule. The opening weekend at New Orleans, with games against teams from the Big XII, Sun Belt and Missouri Valley conferences, will be a big test to see how the BIG EAST stacks up against the other leagues. We’ll have to be ready for some tough games right from the start.
“Our players will look forward to the game with Florida International and it will be tough to keep our guys from looking ahead to the game with USC, which is a team we had hoped to face in the super regionals last year.
“Having an NCAA tournament team such as BYU come in for our opening home games should be a treat for our fans at Eck Stadium.
“Our last three home series should bring great excitement to Eck Stadium. Arizona State’s visit could match the anticipation of having Miami here in 1999. Rutgers will bring another outstanding club and could have the No. 1 pick in next year’s pro draft in Bobby Brownlie. Ending the season with Boston College at home, with potentially a great deal at stake, could make for a great conclusion to the regular season.”