Junior Lane Richards has helped the Irish defense post a .976 fielding percentage in 2015.

Irish Return To The Eck For Wednesday Game Against Valpo

April 8, 2015

Midweek Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Midweek Game #5: Valparaiso
April 8, 2015
6:05 p.m. (ET)
Frank Eck Stadium (Notre Dame, Ind.)

Team Information:
Notre Dame: 20-10, 6-9 ACC (22-31, 9-21 ACC In 2014)
2014 Postseason: Did not qualify for postseason

Valparaiso: 10-16, 6-5 Horizon (25-28, 12-12 Horizon In 2014)
2014 Postseason: 2-2 at the Horizon League Tournament

Neither team is ranked

Projected Pitching Matchup:
LHP Scott Tully (2-1, 3.29 ERA) vs. LHP Connor Kaucic (1-2, 7.50 ERA)

Series History:
Notre Dame leads 75-21
First Meeting: W, H, 4-2 (5/14/1918)
Last Meeting: W, H, 11-1 (4/1/2014)
Aoki vs. Valparaiso: 3-1 (all at ND)

Game Coverage:
Live Video: WatchND (Link on UND.com)
Live Audio: WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend (Chuck Freeby, pbp)
Live Stats: Gametracker (Link on UND.com)
Twitter Reports: @NDBaseball / @NDsidRuss

Weather Report (as of Tuesday, April 7):
Wednesday, April 7: 61 Degrees & Mostly Cloudy (20% chance of rain)

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Riding a four-game winning streak, the University of Notre Dame baseball team returns home for the start of an eight-game homestand at 6:05 p.m. (ET) Wednesday, when in-state foe Valparaiso travels East across I-90 to Frank Eck Stadium. The Irish (20-10) and the Crusaders (10-16) are set to play for the 97th time in a series that dates back to 1918 when Notre Dame bested Valpo, 4-2, on May 14.

Last year, Notre Dame beat Valpo twice at Four Winds Field in under a week, claiming game one, 4-1, March 26 before blowing past the Crusaders, 11-1, April 1.

Notre Dame enters the game riding high after shutting out Eastern Michigan (6-0) before claiming a three-game sweep of Pitt last weekend it Pittsburgh to run its winning streak over the Panthers to eight. The road conference sweep was the first for the Irish since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014 and the first in any conference since a sweep of Georgetown in 2012 when the two programs were part of the BIG EAST.

A big reason for the recent success has been an outstanding defense, which is now tied first in the ACC in fielding percentage (.976). The Irish D has the second fewest errors in the league (29) and has turned the most double plays (42) by nine. The Irish have played error-free ball in four consecutive games and in seven out of their last nine contests.On the mound, Notre Dame received three quality starts from its starters during the four-game winning streak, starting with sophomore Ryan Smoyer’s complete-game shutout last Tuesday night against Eastern Michigan. This past Saturday, freshman Brandon Bielak (7.0 IP, 4 H, O R, 2 BB, 8 SO) and junior Nick McCarty (6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 3 SO) both twirled dandies in an impressive doubleheader sweep of the Panthers.

For his efforts in the Tuesday game against the Eagles in addition to his 4.1 scoreless innings in the series finale at Pitt, Smoyer earned ACC Co-Pitcher of the Week honors Monday.The Irish pitching staff is now third in the ACC with a 3.17 team ERA, just .02 behind Miami for second.

At the dish, Notre Dame struggled early in ACC play against the elite pitching staffs of Louisville and Virginia, but really turned in a solid week against the Eagles and the Panthers by plating 28 runs and tallying 41 hits during the 4-0 week.

Meanwhile, Valpo is coming off a series loss at Milwaukee. The Crusaders are batting a solid .275 as a team, but have a 5.51 team ERA. Junior infielder Nolan Lodden has been super steady for the Cruaders this season, batting .360 with nine doubles, two homers, 26 RBI and 26 runs scored. Teammates Spencer Mahoney (.330, 24 BB, 30 R) and Nate Palace (.327, 13 2B, 24 R) are also batting over .300 and have played in almost every Valpo game.

The Cruaders will send LHP Connor Kaucic (1-2, 7.50 ERA) to the hill, while the Irish will counter with LHP Scott Tully (2-1, 3.29 ERA). It will be Tully’s first career start. The Reading, Massachusetts native has made 16 appearances out of the bullpen in his two-year career.

Wednesday’s contest will be streamed live on WatchND. Fans can also tune in to WHME 103.1 FM in South Bend. A link for WatchND is provided on UND.com.

–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director