Sophomore Cole Johnson.

Irish Baseball Open BIG EAST Slate With Seton Hall This Weekend

March 19, 2009

Notre Dame vs. Seton Hall
Records: Irish (12-5, 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. Pirates (8-6, 0-0 BIG EAST)
When: Fri., Mar. 20 – 5:05 p.m.
Sat., Mar. 21 – 1:05 p.m.
Sun., Mar. 22 – 1:05 p.m.
Where: Frank Eck Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
Pitching Matchup: ND: RHP Cole Johnson (1-0, 2.25)
SHU: RHP Sean Black (2-1, 3.43)
ND: RHP Brian Dupra (2-2, 7.48)
SHU: RHP Keith Cantwell (2-0, 4.10)
ND: RHP Eric Maust (2-0, 3.30)
SHU: RHP Joe DiRocco (1-1, 2.36)
Game Notes:

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Coverage: Friday:
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IN THE BATTERS BOX — Notre Dame opens its BIG EAST portion of the schedule this weekend with a three-game tilt against Seton Hall. First pitch at Frank Eck Stadium for the series opener on Friday is scheduled for 5:05 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday’s games will each begin at 1:05 p.m. All three games can be heard on WHME 103.1 FM as well as (which will also provide live webcasts).

SETON HALL INSIDER — The Pirates opened their season with two victories in their three games at the BIG EAST Big Ten Challenge. Seton Hall upended Minnesota (11-2) and Michigan State (8-4), but lost its finale to Penn State (6-1, despite taking a 1-0 lead into the top of the ninth inning). Top-ranked North Carolina then swept the Pirates. After splitting a pair of games with Richmond, Seton Hall won five straight, including three straight shutouts over VCU, NJIT and Northeastern. The Pirates split their two mid-week games against Stony Brook (10-4) and Manhattan (4-11).

BIG EAST OPENERS — Notre Dame is opening BIG EAST play at home for just the fourth time in 14 years as a member of the league.The Irish are 9-4 all-time in its BIG EAST season openers, including a 3-0 mark at Frank Eck Stadium.

BIG EAST SEASON OPENERS1996  W 9-0  at Boston College1997  L 4-5  at Seton Hall1998  W 7-6  Georgetown1999  W 4-1  at West Virginia2000  W 4-0  at Villanova2001  W 3-0  at Pittsburgh2002  L 3-4  at Connecticut2003  L 2-3  at Villanova2004  W 5-3  at West Virginia2005  W 6-2  Georgetown2006  L 3-8  at Georgetown2007  W 1-0  South Florida2008  W 25-1 at GeorgetownTotals 9-4 (3-0 at home)

BIG EAST HOME OPENERS — Notre Dame is 25-16 overall in BIG EAST opening weekends, including an 0-3 mark against Seton Hall. The Pirates swept the Irish (5-4, 16-0, 16-10) to open the 1997 season.

BIG EAST OPENING WEEKENDS1996  3-1  at Boston College (2-0), at Providence (1-1)1997  0-3  at Seton Hall1998  3-0  Georgetown1999  2-0  at West Virginia2000  2-1  at Villanova2001  2-2  at Pittsburgh (2-0), at Virginia Tech (0-2)2002  0-3  at Connecticut2003  1-2  at Villanova2004  3-0  at West Virginia2005  3-1  Georgetown (1-1), Seton Hall (2-0)2006  2-1  at Georgetown2007  1-2  South Florida2008  3-0  at GeorgetownTotals 25-16 (0-3 vs. Seton Hall), 7-3 at home

THE STARTING PITCHERS — Notre Dame will start sophomore right-hander Cole Johnson (1-0, 2.25 ERA) in the series opener.The Hudson, Ohio native has made 16 career appearances (four this season with three starts), including five starts for a total of 55.2 innings pitched. He has allowed 56 hits and 20 walks while striking out 43. Johnson has allowed six home runs and opponents are batting .271 against him over his career. He picked up the victory in relief against Illinois on Feb. 21. Johnson tossed 3.0 innings and allowed one earned run on a pair of hits. He struck out two and walked one. In his first start of the season, he tossed 4.0 innings and allowed two earned runs on two hits with three strikeouts and two walks (worked on a pitch count as he continues to build stamina after missing over a month after falling off his bike riding across campus) in a no-decision against Gonzaga, but has been top-notch his last two times out against Oral Roberts and Illinois State. Johnson was not involved in the decision in either contest, but he has allowed just two earned runs on six hits in 13.0 innings. He has fanned 10, walked nine and opponents batted .154 against him.

Sophomore right-handed hurler Brian Dupra (2-2, 7.48 ERA) will take the mound on Saturday. Dupra has made 15 career appearances and 13 career starts (including four this season) for a total of 68.0 innings pitched. The Rochester,N.Y. native has allowed 91 hits and 16 walks with 44 strikeouts. He has allowed three home runs and opponents are batting .323 against him over his career. Dupra started the season opener against Ohio State and pitched very well, but was charged with the loss. He allowed six hits and two earned runs in 6.1 innings of work. Dupra struck out a pair and walked one. He then struck out a career-high six in 5.1 innings last weekend in a victory over Dayton, but struggled mightily against #7 Rice before regrouping against Texas-Pan American last weekend. Dupra was roughed up for seven earned runs on seven hits in 3.0 innings against the Owls. He then allowed four runs over the first two innings against UTPA, but settled down and held the Broncos scoreless over his final five innings. Dupra went 7.0 innings and was charged with four earned runs on eight hits. He fanned four and walked four.

The Irish will turn to junior righty Eric Maust (2-0, 3.33 ERA) for the series finale.The Alpharetta, Georgia native has made 33 career appearances and 17 career starts (both are most on the Irish staff) for a total of 138.1 innings pitched. Maust has allowed 155 hits and 39 walks with 83 strikeouts. He has allowed seven home runs and opponents are batting .281 against him over his career. Maust, who has started four games in 2009, was victimized by a couple errors that resulted in three unearned runs in the first inning of his first start against Illinois, but settled down to retire 11 of the next 12 Illini batters, including nine consecutive at one point before running into trouble with command in the top of the fifth inning.With two outs, Maust proceeded to walk three straight Illinois batters before a three-run triple gave Illinois a 6-3 advantage. He allowed four hits and three earned runs in 5.0 innings of work. Maust struck out one and walked three. He went 5.1 innings and surrendered two earned runs with a strikeout and no walks in a no-decision against Creighton. Maust has regained the form that saw him earned all-BIG EAST honors last year over his last two starts.He is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA. Maust has surrendered four earned runs on 10 hits in 14.0 innings (including a seven-inning complete against UTPA).

SCOUTING SETON HALL — The Pirates, led by sixth year head coach Rob Sheppard, enter the weekend owning a 8-6 overall record. Seton Hall opened its season with two victories in their three games at the BIG EAST Big Ten Challenge.The Pirates upended Minnesota (11-2) and Michigan State (8-4), but lost its finale to Penn State (6-1, despite taking a 1-0 lead into the top of the ninth inning).Top-ranked North Carolina then swept Seton Hall. After splitting a pair of games with Richmond, the Pirates won five straight, including three consecutive shutouts over VCU, NJIT and Northeastern. Seton Hall split their two mid-week games against Stony Brook (10-4) and Manhattan (4-11).

  • The Pirates are averaging 6.5 runs per game and hitting .263 with a .365 on-base percentage. Seton Hall has also totaled 18 stolen bases in 21 attempts.
  • The Pirates have three everyday players that are hitting over .300. Chris Spagnuolo leads the attack with a team-best .383 batting average. He has added a team-best 18 hits, three doubles and nine RBI. Matt Smedberg is hitting .362 with 11 runs scored and nine RBI. Michael Rogers is batting .317 with four doubles, one homer and five RBI. Chris Affinito leads Seton Hall with four doubles and 12 RBI. Ed Brown is 5-for-6 in stolen bases, while Sean Gusrang is the only Pirate with more than one home run (two). Seton Hall has hit six home runs this season as a team and has also struckout 100 times.
  • The pitching staff has a 4.23 ERA and .288 opponents’ batting average along with 80 strikeouts and 56 walks in 123.1 innings pitched. Collin McGowan is 0-0 with a 4.97 ERA in four appearances over 12.2 innings, while HenryWarner (0-2, 5.87), George Fernandez (1-0, 6.48), Matt Singer (2-1, 6.75) and Bendy Mejia (0-1, 11.57) are other options out of the Pirates’ bullpen. Seton Hall has committed 32 errors in 14 games and is fielding only .945.

— ND —