March 11, 2016
By Russell Dorn
ACC Weekend #1: Louisville Series
March 11-12, 2016
3 p.m. / 7 p.m. / 1 p.m. / (All ET)
Jim Patterson Stadium (Louisville, Kentucky)
Notre Dame: 6-5, 0-0 ACC (37-23, 17-13 ACC In 2015)
2015 Postseason: 1-2 @ ACC Tourney & 1-2 @ NCAA Champaign Regional
Louisville: 10-2, 0-0 ACC (47-18, 25-5 ACC In 2015)
2015 Postseason: 1-2 @ ACC Tournament / 3-0 @ NCAA Louisville Regional / 1-2 @ NCAA Louisville Super Regional
Rankings: Louisville – Between #4 & #5 in all 6 major polls
Live Video: ESPN3 (Links On UND.com)
Live Audio: WatchND (Chuck Freeby, pbp)
Live Stats: Gametracker (Links on UND.com)
Twitter Reports: @NDBaseball
Projected Pitching Matchups:
G1: RHP Ryan Smoyer (1-2, 2.75 ERA) vs. RHP Kyle Funkhouser (2-1, 5.74 ERA)
G2: RHP Brandon Bielak (0-0, 5.00 ERA) vs. LHP Brendan McKay (3-0, 0.43 ERA)
G3: LHP Sean Guenther (1-1, 3.71 ERA) vs. LHP Drew Harrington (2-1, 2.08 ERA)
Weather Report (as of Thursday, March 10):
Friday, March 11: 67/54 & Partly Cloudy
Saturday, March 12: 77/60 & Scattered Thunderstorms (50%)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Fresh off their fourth walk-off win in seven games, the University of Notre Dame baseball team kicks off Atlantic Coast Conference action with a bang this weekend, as the Irish begin their third year in the elite conference with a three-game series at No. 4 Louisville.
The Cardinals (10-2) are coming off an ACC Atlantic Division title and NCAA Super Regional appearance in 2015.
Notre Dame (6-5) looks to keep the momentum going that was earned from a Matt Vierling solo homer Sunday that walked off Niagara.
The two teams played an incredibly competitive series just a year ago in South Bend with all three margins of victory at three runs or less. Highlighting the series was an 18-inning marathon Saturday that saw the Cardinals prevail 6-4.
Projected inclement weather in the Louisville area has shifted the weekend series around some. The two teams will now play a Friday doubleheader (3 p.m. / 7 p.m. ET) and a single game at 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday.
Here are five things to know before the Louisville series begins:
- Notre Dame baseball might soon be known as the “Cardiac” Irish after a recent flurry of exciting wins ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ four of Notre Dame’s six victories this year have been by walk off … even more remarkable is the fact that the Irish have allowed their opponent to score first in all four walk offs ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ here are the details on those four victories:
Date & Opponent: February 26, 2016 vs. Texas Southern
The Situation: Down 5-2 entering B9
What Happened: Jake Johnson RBI single
The Result: Won, 6-5
Date & Opponent: February 28, 2016 vs. Gonzaga
The Situation: Tied 6-6 entering B9
What Happened: Ricky Sanchez RBI single
The Result: Won, 7-6
Date & Opponent: March 5, 2016 vs. Brown
The Situation: Down 6-3 entering B9
What Happened: Zak Kutsulis RBI double
The Result: Won, 7-6
Date & Opponent: March 6, 2016 vs. Niagara
The Situation: Tied 4-4 entering B10
What Happened: Matt Vierling leadoff solo HR
The Result: Won, 5-4
- After not recording a single hit in the Santa Clara series to open the year, SR 1B Zak Kutsulis has been borderline unstoppable since then … in the last eight games he is splitting .433/.500/.533 with 13 hits, three doubles, eight RBI, four walks and four runs scored … he also tallied an RBI double to walk off Brown March 5 … he has a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage at first base so far this year.
- Freshman OF Matt Vierling has started all 11 games between right field and designated hitter this season and has been on fire after picking up his first career hit in the third game of the year … over the last eight games the St. Louis native is splitting .382/.462/.588 with two homers, a double, 11 RBI, five walks and four runs scored … he is coming off a wild game against Niagara where he helped his own cause by hitting a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th innings to secure an ND victory and secure his first career victory on the mound ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Vierling threw a scoreless top of the 10th to earn his first career victory on the mound … he carries an 11-game on-base streak to start his career into the Louisville series.
- After missing seven games with an upper leg injury, junior catcher Ryan Lidge is back behind the dish for the Irish ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ recently named to the Johnny Bench Watch List for the second year in a row, Lidge was batting .375 before the injury ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ the Barrington, Illinois native will catch for RHP Ryan Smoyer Friday, RHP Brandon Bielak Saturday and LHP Sean Guenther Sunday ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Smoyer has trotted to the mound for the Irish first in all three weekends so far this year and has two quality starts ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ Bielak is making is second start of the season while Guenther is making his fourth.
- Notre Dame and Louisville first played in the same year that construction on the original Yankee Stadium began (1922), but didn’t meet again until 70 years later in 1992 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ the Irish joined the BIG EAST in 1996 and Louisville joined in 2006 and so began a rivalry that saw the two teams play 22 times between 2006-13 when Notre Dame left for the ACC ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ the Cardinals followed a year later and the two programs renewed their rivalry in South Bend in 2015 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦ the first ACC series between the two teams featured a wild, 18-inning Saturday game that saw the Cardinals pull out a 6-4 victory.
For more information on the Notre Dame baseball, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).
Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning his master’s degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.