March 16, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame will host Ball State on Tuesday, March 17 at 5:05 p.m. at Frank Eck Stadium as the Irish not only celebrate their home opener, but also St. Patrick’s Day.
Notre Dame is 10-5 after taking five of its six games last week against Grambling and at the Irish Classic in San Antonio, Texas. The Irish sport their best record to open a season after 15 games since 2004 (when Notre Dame was 13-2).
Freshman Dustin Ispas (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) will take the mound for Notre Dame on Tuesday. The left-handed hurler (0-0, 0.00 ERA) has made two appearances (one start) for a total of 6.2 innings pitched. He has allowed two hits and four walks while striking out four. Ispas has not allowed a home run and opponents are batting .095 against him. He was excellent in his first career start against Grambling on March 10 surrendering one unearned run on two hits in 6.0 innings of work. Ispas struck out three and walked four.
The Cardinals (9-7) come into the contest following this weekend’s series victory over Chicago State. Ball State took three of the four games against the Bobcats. Ball State is paced offensively by Jeremy Hazelbaker (.463, 1 HR, 12 RBI) and Kory Benbow (.364, 4 HR, 19 RBI).
THE IRISH ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY (March 17)
- This is the fifth consecutive season the Irish have played on St. Patrick’s Day.
- The Irish have a six-game unbeaten streak (5-0-1) on St. Patrick’s Day contests and seven of their last nine (7-1-1).
- This marks the second time since 1986 the Irish are playing at home on St. Patrick’s Day. The only other occasion took place one year ago.
- March 17, 1986: Notre Dame swept an opening day doubleheader with St. Joseph’s (IN) 4-1 and 8-0.
- March 17, 2008: Notre Dame and Central Michigan was halted with the game tied, 2-2, due to snow in last year’s season opener.
Note: This assumes St. Patrick’s Day as being on March 17 and does not take into account years like this where the Pope moved it to avoid Holy Week.
OPENING DAY AT THE ECK
- The Irish are 11-3-1 in their home opener since the opening of Frank Eck Stadium.
- Notre Dame is 2-2-1 in its last five openers after winning nine of the first ten in the stadium.
— ND —