Feb. 26, 2015
Feb. 27-28, 2015
2 p.m. / 3 p.m. / 7 p.m. (All ET)
Claude Smith Field (Macon, Ga.)
Notre Dame: 7-1, 0-0 ACC (22-31, 9-21 ACC In 2014)
2014 Postseason: Did not qualify for postseason
Belmont: 2-2, 0-0 Ohio Valley Conference (24-30-1, 13-16-1 OVC In 2014)
2014 Postseason: Did not qualify for postseason
Mercer: 5-4, 0-0 SoCon (38-17, 18-9 Atlantic Sun In 2014)
2014 Postseason: 0-2 A-Sun Tournament
Akron: 4-2, 0-0 MAC (28-29, 12-15 MAC In 2014)
2014 Postseason: 3-1 MAC Tournament
None Of The Teams Are Ranked
Projected Pitching Matchups:
G1 (BU): RHP Scott Kerrigan (1-1) vs. RHP Aaron Quillen (1-0)
G2 (MU): RHP Brandon Bielak (1-0) vs. LHP Connor Herd (1-0)
G3 (UA): RHP Nick McCarty (2-0) vs. LHP Pat Dyer (1-0)
vs. Belmont: First Meeting
Aoki vs. Belmont: 0-1 (all at BC)
vs. Mercer: Mercer leads 4-3
First Meeting: L, A, 13-3 (4/17/1925)
Last Meeting: L, N, 5-4 (2/17/13)
Aoki vs. Mercer: 0-1 (all at ND)
vs. Akron: ND leads 1-0
Only Meeting: W, N, 10-3 (3/17/2000)
Aoki vs. Akron: 0-0
Live Video: None
Live Audio: WHME 103.1 FM (Chuck Freeby, pbp) or
WatchND (Links on UND.com)
Live Stats: UND.com
Twitter Reports: @ND Baseball / @NDsidRuss
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A whirlwind week of uncertainty due to unseasonably cold weather in North Carolina prevented the University of Notre Dame baseball team from knowing exactly where it would be playing this weekend until hours before the team’s flight Thursday.
After the third annual USA Baseball-Irish Classic was canceled early that morning due to inclement weather in the Cary, North Carolina region, the Irish secured a spot at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where they will meet Belmont University (2 p.m. Friday), Mercer (3 p.m. Saturday) and Akron (7 p.m. Saturday) over the course of two days at Claude Smith Field on the Bears’ campus.
Despite the uncertainty, head coach Mik Aoki and his group prepared during the fall and early winter for situations like this, learning to not worry about the uncontrollable, but instead to focus on the figurative and literal next pitch.
That philosophy has certainly seemed to work for the Irish so far this year, as they have jumped out to a 7-1 start, which matches their start in 2013 when they produced a winning record (34-24), advanced to the BIG EAST Tournament final and just missed out on an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
This year’s squad has bigger goals than that, but for now is entirely focused on their next weekend of action. Just one week out from the beginning of Atlantic Coast Conference play at reigning ACC Tournament champion Georgia Tech, Notre Dame is looking to continue its hot start to the 2015 season that sees it atop the ACC’s Atlantic Division and tied with No. 1 Virginia (7-0) for the most victories in the ACC.
The pitching has been more than solid for the second year in a row (2.92 ERA, 4 quality starts), but the offense has been night and day different from 2014. After averaging only 3.8 runs a game in 2014 with splits of .245/.328/.323, the Irish are scoring 7.9 runs a game and boast impressive splits of .300/.386/.411 this year. One of the main reasons for the success is a renewed emphasis on working the count, as Notre Dame is averaging 4.9 walks and 2.25 hit by pitch per game after averaging 3.2 and 0.9 in those categories, respectively, last season.
Leading the charge is sophomore Cavan Biggio, who is the reigning ACC Player of the Week. Entering the weekend, Biggio is in the top six in the league in 10 different categories, including leading the conference in hits (16) and slugging percentage (.839) and tying for the conference lead in doubles (6) and triples (2). The Houston, Texas native is also second in batting average (.516), total bases (26) and on-base percentage (.625) and tied for second in runs (11).
Elsewhere on offense, sophomore catcher Ryan Lidge is batting .400 with a homer and seven RBI, junior shortstop Lane Richards is hitting .385 with four doubles and five RBI and senior outfielder Robert Youngdahl is hitting .313 with six RBI and six runs scored. In the leadoff role, freshman outfielder Jake Johnson is hitting a respectable .273, but sports an impressive .541 on-base percentage on the strength of seven walks and a nation-leading seven hit by pitch.
On the mound, junior Nick McCarty is first in the ACC in innings pitched (14.2) and tied for first in starts (2) and wins (2), while starters Michael Hearne (2.38 ERA, 1-0), Scott Kerrigan (2.92, 1-1) and Brandon Bielak (4.50 ERA, 1-0) have all shown flashes of brilliance. In relief, sophomore Scott Tully hurled six shutout innings last weekend to earn his first career win against Northwestern, while freshman Peter Solomon has only given up three hits and two walks while striking out seven in 5.1 innings of work.
This weekend, the Irish will face off with Belmont (2-2), Mercer (5-4) and Akron (4-2) for one game each.
Belmont has only been able to play four of its eight scheduled games, boasting wins over Toledo (18-5) and Western Kentucky (9-1). They last lost 4-1 to Tennessee.
Mercer opened the year with a win over Virginia Tech, before losing the last two in the series to the Hokies. The Bears lost two more in a row before sweeping Bethune-Cookman in three games and taking a single contest against Florida A&M.
Akron won 2-of-3 from both Furman and Charlotte on the road to open its 2015 campaign.
Hearne is receiving the weekend off with minor arm soreness, so Kerrigan will take the mound for Notre Dame Friday against Belmont. The Bruins will counter with RHP Aaron Quillen (1-0, 0.00 ERA).
Saturday, the Irish will send Bielak to the mound against Mercer and McCarty to the bump versus Akron. The Bears will hurl LHP Connor Herd (1-0, 1.74 ERA), while LHP Pat Dyer (1-0, 3.00 ERA) for the Zips.
Fans can follow all three games through WatchND’s audio broadcast (WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend) in addition to tracking the game through live stats. Links for all three games are on UND.com. Live in-game updates will be available through the program’s Twitter account @NDBaseball.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director