May 11, 2017
|Austin Peay Series|
By Michael Scholl
Five Things To Know
- The Notre Dame baseball team returns to action after a week off for final exams with a non-conference series against Austin Peay. It marks the final home series of the season for the Irish. Notre Dame boasts an 8-0 record in home, nonconference games this season, with the most recent example a 3-2 win over Northwestern on May 2. The only other nonconference team Notre Dame has faced multiple times on the campaign is Saint Louis. The Billikens won a pair over Notre Dame during the Alamo Irish Classic the season’s opening weekend in San Antonio.
- Notre Dame and Austin Peay have met one time, with the Governors having won a 6-4 contest in Clarksville, Tennessee, on April 20, 1960. It was part of a long road trip for the Irish, which saw them begin at Arkansas State, then visit Lipscomb, Austin Peay and Vanderbilt on successive days. That season, the loss to the Govs was the only defeat for Notre Dame over its first 12 games. That 1960 club went on to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive year.
- Head coach Mik Aoki and the Irish will honor five senior team members prior to the game in graduate student pitcher and co-captain Michael Hearne, shortstop and co-captain Kyle Fiala, catcher Ryan Lidge and pitchers Scott Tully and Ryan Smoyer. The group has led the Irish program through a period of transition as they embarked upon the ACC era while helping the club qualify for the NCAA Championship in 2015.
- One season after earning Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors, Matt Vierling has continued his development to become one of the best hitters in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Vierling is tied for seventh in the league with 37 hits during conference games, while he leads the conference in doubles (12) and is one of just six players with multiple triples during league games. He is also tied for fifth with 56 total bases in conference play. He leads the Irish in all three slash categories at .324/.398/.546, as well as in RBI with 36. He’s been even better in conference play, posting a .330/.402/. 544 slash line with 13 RBI, trailing only Kyle Fiala (16 RBI) on the Irish roster in that category. Vierling also leads the team in multiple hit games (19) and multiple RBI games (10) and owns the longest hitting streak this year by an Irish player (10 games).
- Notre Dame is one of two teams on its ACC bye this weekend, along with next week’s opponent in the final regular season series, Boston College. Both ND and BC will be keeping an eye on the other teams this weekend as competition for the 12 spots in the ACC Baseball Championship boils down to the end of the season. The Irish currently stand in 11th, mere percentage points behind Georgia Tech and Duke, who are tied for ninth. Pitt currently sits in 12th, tied with Virginia Tech but owning the tiebreaker over the Hokies due to a series sweep. By virtue of series victories, Notre Dame owns tiebreakers over NC State, Georgia Tech, Duke and Pitt.
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Michael Scholl joined Fighting Irish Media in August 2016, coordinating communications for the baseball program and assisting with the football team at his alma mater. The South Bend native earned a degree in political science from the College of Arts & Letters in 2009 before going on to work in athletics communications at Providence College, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati.