May 28, 2015
May 29-June 1, 2015
1 p.m. Friday / TBA Other Days (All ET)
Illinois Field (Champaign, Ill.)
No. 1 Seed Illinois: 47-8-1, 21-1 Big Ten (2-2 at Big Ten Championship)
32-21, 17-7 Big Ten In 2014
2014 Postseason: 1-2 at Big Ten Tournament
No. 2 Seed Notre Dame: 36-21, 17-13 ACC (1-2 at ACC Championship)
22-31, 9-21 ACC In 2014
2014 Postseason: Did not qualify for postseason
No. 3 Seed Wright St.: 41-15, 21-8 Horizon (Horizon Champs – 3-1)
35-22, 25-4 Horizon In 2014
2014 Postseason: 2-2 in the Horizon League Tournament
No. 4 Seed Ohio: 36-19, 17-10 MAC (MAC Champs – 4-0)
11-40, 7-20 MAC In 2014
2014 Postseason: Did not qualify for postseason
Notre Dame: No. 23 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Top 30
Illinois: Ranked between 3-5 in all six major polls
Projected Pitching Matchups:
G1 (vs. Wright State): RHP Scott Kerrigan (3-5, 3.68 ERA) vs. RHP Luke Mamer (4-2, 2.85 ERA)
G2 (vs. TBA): TBAvs. TBA
Notre Dame trails 25-38
First Meeting: W, H, 8-7 (5/9/1895)
Last Meeting: W, N, 13-12 (2/17/2012)
Aoki vs. Illinois: 1-0 (1-0 at ND)
vs. Wright State
Series is tied 3-3
First Meeting: W, H, 5-2 (5/1/1982)
Last Meeting: L, H, 4-2 (3/21/2006)
Aoki vs. Wright State: 0-0
Notre Dame trails 14-16
First Meeting: L, H, 4-1 (4/17/1950)
Last Meeting: L, A, 13-2 (4/15/1972)
Aoki vs. Ohio: 1-3 (1-3 at Columbia)
Live Video: ESPN3 (Links on UND.com)
Live Audio: WatchND (Links on UND.com) & WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend (Chuck Freeby, pbp)
Live Stats: UND.com
Twitter Reports: @NDBaseball / @NDsidRuss
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The long wait is almost over for the University of Notre Dame baseball team, as the No. 2 seeded Irish begin their first NCAA Regional in nine years at 1 p.m. (ET) Friday when they play Horizon League champion and No. 3 seed Wright State in game one of the Champaign Regional at the University of Illinois’ Illinois Field. No. 1 seeded Illinois (No. 6 national seed) and No. 4 seed Ohio round out the regional.Â
Since a setback to Kentucky at the Lexington Regional in 2006, the Irish program has played the waiting game for their return to NCAA Championship competition. After a near miss in head coach Mik Aoki’s third season (2013) and a tough 2014 campaign as the program transitioned into the elite Atlantic Coast Conference, Notre Dame — under the direction of Aoki — finally put all the pieces together in 2015.
The Irish (36-21) did what it took this year to earn an at-large spot in the field of 64, posting an impressive 17-13 mark in ACC play to place third in the league, while also boasting a 19-8 record in non-conference games and a 21-10 mark away from the friendly confines of Frank Eck Stadium.
Having secured its place at a regional, Notre Dame now gets set for an impressive field that will pose quite a challenge for the Irish in their quest to advance to a Super Regional and ultimately the College World Series.
Up first for the Irish are the Wright State Raiders, who posted an impressive 41-15 mark overall including a 21-8 record in the Horizon League. The Raiders were an almost perfect 21-2 at home. They sport a .294 team average and have a 3.38 team ERA.
RHP Luke Mamer (4-2) will get the start on the mound. The senior has a 2.85 ERA in 72.2 innings of work and has an impressive 5-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (50 SO, 10 BB).
No. 1 Illinois (47-8-1) has put together a remarkable campaign that saw it string together a Big Ten record 27-game winning streak from March 30 to May 20, go 22-2 at home and 21-1 in Big Ten play.
The Illini boast a respectable .294 team batting average but their real bread and butter lies in its pitching staff, which is fourth in Division I in ERA (2.46), WHIP (1.11) and walks allowed per nine innings (2.09) and fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.55).
Ohio (36-19) swept through the MAC Tournament last weekend after going 17-10 in the league during the year. The Bobcats went 14-2 in neutral site games during the year. Ohio bats .282 as a team and has a 4.01 ERA.
The Irish, meanwhile, boast a formidable squad of their own that has found ways to win throughout the year. Eight of the nine regular starters have a .250 batting average or higher, while seven of the nine have at least 53 hits on the year.
Sophomore third team all-ACC performer Kyle Fiala leads the squad in average (.301), hits (68), triples (4) and runs (46), while fellow sophomore Cavan Biggio leads the team in homers (8), stolen bases (14), walks (49) and on-base percentage (.408). Senior third team all-ACC standout Robert Youngdahl leads the team in doubles (19) and slugging percentage (.465).Â Â Â Â
On the mound, the Irish are third in the ACC and 21st nationally in ERA (3.05), while boasting one of the top defenses in the country. Notre Dame sits first in the ACC and eighth nationally in fielding percentage (.978) and is first in Division I in double plays (74) and double plays per game (1.30).
Senior Scott Kerrigan (3-5, 3.68 ERA) is set to get the start Friday against Wright State.
Notre Dame hasn’t met Wright State since 2006, which is coincidentally the last time the Irish made a regional. All-time, the series is tied at three games apiece.
Illinois leads the all-time series with the Irish 38-25 in a series that dates back to 1895, when Notre Dame beat the Illini, 8-7, in South Bend. The Irish and Illinois last met in 2012, when Notre Dame claimed a 13-12 win to start the year at the BIG EAST-Big Ten Challenge.Â
Ohio leads Notre Dame, 16-14, but the two schools haven’t met since April 15, 1972.
The winner of Friday’s game will play the winner of Illinois and Ohio Saturday for the right to play in Sunday’s region championship game, while the loser will play the loser between the Illini and the Bobcats in an elimination game Saturday.
The Champaign Regional can be followed in its entirety through ESPN3 (links on UND.com), while WatchND (103.1 FM in South Bend) will offer audio coverage. Live stats are also available for all games.
–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director