Irish Close Out California Swing With Series At No. 20 Cal Poly

March 13, 2013

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#17 Notre Dame
Fighting Irish (10-4)
#20 Cal Poly
Mustangs (14-2)
San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Baggett Stadium (1,734)

Thursday (6 p.m. PT)
RHP Sean Fitzgerald (1-0, 2.84 ERA) vs. RHP Joey Wagman (3-1, 3.38 ERA)

Friday (6 p.m. PT)
RHP Adam Norton (4-0, 1.61 ERA) vs. LHP Matt Imhof (2-0, 1.40 ERA)

Saturday (Noon PT)
RHP David Hearne (0-1, 5.12 ERA) vs. RHP Bryan Granger (3-1, 3.04 ERA)

Live Video: GoPoly.com
Live Audio: WHME 103.1 FM (Chuck Freeby, pbp); UND.com
Live Stats: UND.com

IN THE BATTERS BOX — No. 17 Notre Dame closes its seven-game California trip this weekend with a three-game series at No. 20 Cal Poly. First pitch for both Thursday and Friday is scheduled for 6 p.m. PT with Saturday’s finale to start at noon PT. The Irish (10-4) enter the weekend ranked among the top-25 in all five major polls. Notre Dame is ranked No. 17 by both Perfect Game and Baseball America, No. 21 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 23 by NCBWA and No. 22 by the USA Today Coaches.

LOOKING BACK — Notre Dame played a trio of one-run contests with No. 7 UCLA, USC and No. 10 Oklahoma last weekend at the Dodgertown Classic. The Irish took two of three over the weekend. Notre Dame dropped its opening game of the tournament 2-1 in 10 innings to the host Bruins. The Irish rebounded with back-to-back victories over the Trojans (2-1) and Sooners (6-5, 11 innings). Notre Dame came from behind to win both contests.

  • Notre Dame dropped its first mid-week contest of the season on Tuesday at UC Santa Barbara, 7-2.

PLAYING THE BEST — Notre Dame has already played a trio of top-25 opponents (No. 25 Virginia Tech, No. 7 UCLA and No. 10 Oklahoma). The Irish have captured two of those three meetings. Notre Dame blanked the Hokies, 3-0, and topped the Sooners, 6-5, in 11 innings. The Bruins slipped past the Irish, 2-1, in 10 innings.

  • Notre Dame defeated unranked Florida Gulf Coast, 6-5, in 10 innings earlier this season, but the Eagles have since moved into the top 25.
  • The Irish will play six top-25 foes over their first 17 games of the season when you include this weekend’s series with No. 20 Cal Poly.
  • Notre Dame also travels to No. 5 Louisville later this month.

FAST OUT OF THE GATE — Notre Dame opened 10-3 and had not posted a better record after its first 13 games since 2004 when the Irish opened 12-1. The ’04 campaign is the only in the last 20 years (dating back to the 1993 season) in which Notre Dame has reached the 10-win mark in fewer than 13 games. In fact, only four Irish squads (’04, ’92, 1960 and 1959) over the last 76 years have reached the 10-win plateau faster than the ’13 team.

IRISH TRAVEL TO THE GOLDEN STATE ­– Notre Dame is in the midst of its first trip to the state of California since 2004. The Irish have travelled to a total of 10 different California sites in program history. Notre Dame has played at the University of California, Cal State Fullerton, Fresno State, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, UCLA, USC, UC Riverside, the University of the Pacific and Santa Clara.

  • The Irish make their first ever appearance at UC Santa Barbara and will do the same this weekend at Cal Poly.

HEADING FOR THE LEFT COAST — The Notre Dame baseball team has made a handful of trips to California, posting a 19-23-1 record in those games, including a 14-9-1 mark over the last 24 games in the Golden State.

  • The Irish are now 5-2 in their last seven games played in California. Notre Dame went 2-0 in its last visit to California. The Irish defeated San Diego State (7-1) and USC (3-1) at the 2004 USC Classic.
  • The 2001 spring break trip produced a 7-0-1 record for the Irish, including a 5-0-1 record in wining the prestigious Fresno State Classic (with highlight wins over Fresno State and Illinois).
  • Other recent trips to California include: the first games of the Paul Mainieri era, at the 1995 Anaheim Classic (win over Pepperdine, losses to Texas and host Cal State Fullerton); the 1997 Long Beach State Classic (0-3 vs. LBSU, USC and Mississippi); and the 2003 NCAA Fullerton Regional (wins over Arizona and San Diego, two losses to Cal State Fullerton).
  • Previous Notre Dame visits to the Golden State include the 1961 squad going 4-5 against an assortment of teams throughout California, a rough week at the 1986 UC-Riverside Invitational (0-7) and the 1989 NCAA West II Regional (win over Portland, two losses to host Fresno State).

CALIFORNIA NATIVES ­– Notre Dame’s list of all-time baseball monogram winners includes 901 players who hail from 47 states, Washington, D.C., Panama and Ontario.

  • California is the ninth-most common home state among the all-time letterwinners, with 39 (behind Illinois, New York, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan and Pennsylvania).
  • Twenty six of those players hail from southern/central California (the 13 from Northern California include five from San Francisco, two from Oakland, two from San Jose and one each from Berkley, Napa, Stockton and Scotts Valley)
  • The southern/central California natives include current sophomores RHP Matt Kerrigan (Saugus/Saugus HS) and RHP Cristian Torres (Rancho Palos Verdes/Palos Verdes Peninsula), as well as OF Cody Rizzo (Temecula/Chaparral HS, 2003-06), All-America C Walt Osgood (Compton/St. Anthony’s HS, 1960-62), 2B Greg Layson (La Mesa/Grossmont HS, 1991-94, his .321 with 5 HR, 101 RBI in 700 AB) and C Ed Lund (Pasadena/St. Francis HS, 1988-90, St. Francis HS, .308, 10 HR, 116 RBI, 507 AB).
  • Others of note include two Mission Viejo natives – SS/CF Steve Skupien (Capistrano Valley HS, 1986-88, .272, 8 HR, 53 RBI, 378 AB) and OF/1B Matt Strickroth (Santa Margarita HS, ’99-’02, 9 HR, 45 RBI), LHP Ed Lupton (Ventura, 1963-65; 3.06 ERA, 15-7, 161.2, 135 Ks) and 1B/OF Jim Gillis (Huntington Beach/Union HS, 1949-51), who is actively involved in the area Notre Dame Alumni Club events.
  • Others include: RHP Mike Balicki (Santa Margarita HS, 1995-97), C Michael Dorning, (Claremont/LaVerne Damien HS, 1983-85), C/OF Terry Harsha (Van Nuys, 1965), INF Ryne Intlekofer (Moorpark/Moorpark HS), LHP Dustin Ispas (Rancho Cucamonga/Los Osos HS), C Mike Knecht (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS, 1998), IF Harold “Hi” Lavelle (Compton, 1955-56), IF Thomas MacDonald (Downey/Pius X. HS, 1963), IF Robin Reschan (San Clemente, 1970-72, .336, 7 HR, 32 RBI), RHP Mike Riddell (San Bernadino/Aquinas HS, 1970-73, 3.58, 9-14, 161 IP, 100 K), C Matt Scioscia (Westlake Village/Encino Crespi Carmelite HS), C Dennis Twombley (San Diego/ Patrick Henry HS, 1994, .348, 5 HR, 24 RBI) and OF Howard Wood ( Redondo Beach /Montgomery HS, 1972-73).

AROUND THE BASES — Notre Dame’s bullpen has been nearly flawless in 2013. Irish relievers have collected a 1.40 ERA in 51.1 innings of work. Junior RHP Dan Slania, freshman RHP Nick McCarty, sophomore RHP Cristian Torres, sophomore RHP Matt Ternowchek, junior RHP Donnie Hissa and freshman LHP Zak Kutsulis have limited foes to a .191 batting average. They have struck out 39, walked 12 and allowed just 33 hits (only FOUR extra base hits). They’ve also posted a 5-2 record with three saves and have allowed just five runs after the sixth inning this season.

  • Due in large part to its bullpen, Notre Dame has outscored its opponents, 30-9, after the fifth inning. The Irish have yet to surrender a lead after the sixth inning. Notre Dame is 6-0 entering the seventh inning.
  • The Irish are 8-0 when they hit at least one home run.
  • Notre Dame led the BIG EAST in both fewest walks per nine innings (2.81) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.61) in 2012. Both totals ranked fourth in single-season school history. The Irish also led the league in fewest walks per nine innings in 2011.
  • Notre Dame is off to a similar start in both categories in 2013. The Irish not only lead the BIG EAST in fewest walks per nine innings (1.96), but also rank fourth in the NCAA. Notre Dame also ranks second in the league in WHIP (1.05), which ranks 14th in the country. The Irish (3.48), who rank 11th in the nation, trail only Louisville (4.11) in the BIG EAST for the top strikeout-to-walk ratio.
  • Notre Dame committed a season-high five errors in the 4-3 loss to Rhode Island on Mar. 3. The Irish failed to comit a single error over the next three games and actualled went 36.0 consecutive innings without a defensive miscue. Notre Dame did have an error on Tuesday at UC Santa Barbara.
  • Notre Dame ranked 10th in the BIG EAST in fielding percentage in 2012, but the Irish have made major improvements in 2013. Notre Dame leads the league with a sparkling .974 fielding percentage this season.
  • Junior All-American candidates Eric Jagielo and Trey Mancini continue to carry the load offensively for the Irish. Jagielo is batting .360 with two doubles, five home runs and 18 RBI, while Mancini is hitting .333 with two triples, three home runs and 13 RBI.
  • Notre Dame was the only team in the BIG EAST with a pair of players with 10 or more home runs in 2012. Jagielo (13) and Mancini (12) combined for 25 round trippers. Jagielo was second in the BIG EAST, while Mancini ranked tied for third in the league.
  • Jagielo and Mancini form one of the nation’s top power-hitting duos. They are the only returning tandem in the country with 12 or more home runs last year.
  • Sophomore Ryan Bull leads Notre Dame with a .375 batting average and a trio of three-hit games. Bull also added a career-best four hits in the victory over Tulane (added a home run on Feb. 23).

OPPONENTS — Notre Dame has faced 310 opponents over its 120 years of baseball. Recent first-time opponents include: Liberty, Albany, Lehigh, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Buffalo and Mississippi Valley State (2008); Gonzaga and Grambling (2009); Manhattan, Seattle and UAB (2011); Hofstra, Houston Baptist and Kansas (2012); Massachusetts and Rhode Island (2013).

  • Two more first-time foes remain on the ’13 slate: Cal Poly and Quinnipiac. After those games, the program will have faced 201 of 291 current D-I teams (69.1%).
  • Notre Dame’s most common opponents: Western Michigan (133), Northwestern (131), Michigan State (131), Michigan (129), Purdue (121) and Wisconsin (119).
  • Noteworthy teams that Notre Dame has yet to face (pre-2013): Oklahoma State, Maryland, VCU, East Carolina, Southern Mississippi and UNLV.

FAR & WIDE — Notre Dame’s 2013 roster includes 35 players from 17 different home states.

  • The top 10 position players and top three starting pitchers hail from 10 different states, including three from Illinois, two from Ohio and one each from Florida, Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Minnesota, Virginia and Indiana.

ROAD TRIPPERS — Notre Dame will be playing its first 17 games away from home, in six different cities: Sarasota, Fla., New Orleans, Cary, N.C. and Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, Calif.

  • The Irish then will spend virtually all of Apr. (12 of 17 games) in the friendly confines of Eck Stadium, including the first seven games of the month.
  • Notre Dame’s final seven games of the regular season will all take place on the road, including BIG EAST three-game series at St. John’s (May 11-12) and at Cincinnati (May 16-18). The Irish will also travel to Western Michigan on May 14.

WALKING A TIGHTROPE — Notre Dame has already played in a total of eight games decided by one run. The Irish own a 5-3 record in those outings. Each of Notre Dame’s last four games have been decided by one run.

  • The nip-and-tuck battles are nothing new to Notre Dame. The Irish played 18 games decided by one run in 2012. Notre Dame went 11-7 in those outings. In fact, the Irish also played in 20 such games in 2011 as well (going 10-10).
  • In all, Notre Dame has played in 46 different one-run contests since third-year head coach Mik Aoki arrived on campus. That’s 46 of 125 games or just over 37 percent of Aoki’s tenure in an Irish uniform.
  • The 11 wins by a single run in 2012 is tied for the most in single-season school history (1990, 1981).
  • Notre Dame established the school record for most games decided by a single run in 2011. The 2001 squad also played in 18 games decided by the slimmest of margins.

— ND —