May 4, 2017
|und.com/strikeoutALS | Notre Dame Notes | Louisville Notes|
By Michael Scholl
Five Things To Know
- The Notre Dame baseball team (23-23, 10-14 ACC) looks to improve on a 15-5 record at Frank Eck Stadium this season when No. 2 Louisville (39-6, 17-4 ACC) visits for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series. It’s one of two league series remaining for Notre Dame (at Boston College May 18-20) as it currently stands in ninth place in the race for the 12 spots at the ACC Baseball Championship, which will be held May 23-28 in Louisville, Kentucky.
- Louisville and Notre Dame have meet 30 times, with the Cardinals having won 22 of those contests. The teams played just twice before UofL joined the BIG EAST Conference in 2006, with Notre Dame winning in 1922 (13-4) and 1992 (3-2) in Derby City. The Cardinals have dominated the series of late, having won nine-straight dating back to a 2-1 Notre Dame win in Louisville in 2011. Last year, the Cardinals swept a three-game set at Jim Patterson Stadium by scores of 4-3 (11 innings), 8-2 and 1-0. The last series at The Eck came in 2015, when Louisville won 2-0, 6-4 in 18 innings and 3-0. All-time, UofL is 8-1 at Frank Eck Stadium, with the lone Irish victory the first game at The Eck between the two schools, an 11-3 win on May 5, 2006.
- Sean Guenther and Peter Solomon have combined to become a formidable force in the back end of the Irish bullpen. Notre Dame owns a 22-1 record when leading after six innings this season. Entering the Louisville series, Guenther has not allowed an earned run since March 24 against Florida State. In 25 innings and 11 appearances, he has allowed just a pair of unearned runs while racking up six saves, a pair of victories and 30 strikeouts to just four walks. Solomon has not allowed a single run to cross the plate in his last 13.1 innings pitched, dating back to an April 4 contest at No. 18 Michigan. Over his scoreless streak, he has struck out 15 with just five walks and opponents are hitting .180.
- At the plate, Matt Vierling, Ryan Lidge and Kyle Fiala have solidified the middle of the order. Vierling is hitting a team-best .315 in conference play with 11 doubles, two homers and 12 RBI. He saw his 10-game hitting streak come to an end on Tuesday against Northwestern, following an outstanding series against Duke in which he went 10-20 with four extra-base hits and no strikeouts. Since seeing his average bottom out at the end of the Clemson series, Lidge has been as consistent as anyone in the lineup. Over the 32 games since, the backstop is hitting .292 with 32 RBI. He carries a 24-game on-base streak into the Louisville series, looking to match Nick Podkul’s season-best streak of 27 games. Fiala is second to Vierling with a .308 average in conference play with a team-best 16 RBI. In addition, the third baseman has committed the fewest errors of any Irish infielder during league play.
- Improvement continues to be the key word for Notre Dame this season. Since a 1-8 start, the Irish have posted a 22-15 mark and have improved in nearly every category, most notably pitching. Over the first nine games, Irish hurlers had a 7.85 ERA while opponents were batting .316. In the 37 games since, the ERA has been 3.63 with opponents hitting .248. Behind those pitchers, the Notre Dame defense has made 40 errors in the last 37 games after committing 20 miscues in the first nine contests. Things have improved at the plate, as well. After hitting .221 in the opening stretch, the Irish have hit .251 as a team over the last 37, led by Matt Vierling’s .324 mark in that stretch. Notre Dame is 21-3 against unranked teams over the last 37 games, with the three losses all coming to ACC teams during a series the Irish still won (Pitt, NC State & Duke). ND is 1-12 against teams in the D1Baseball.com Top 25 with the victory coming at No. 19 Virginia.
– ND –
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.